As a former College and Career Specialist at Mount Si High School and now part of Washington FIRST as a Communications Coordinator, Kellie Essig knows first hand the importance of STEM education to the next generation of job seekers.
Kellie said with so many industries across our state having a STEM focus, we must come together and work to train the next generation.
STEM-related jobs in the region have grown three times faster than non-STEM related jobs. Known as a location for opportunity and home to aerospace, healthcare, biopharmaceutical, advanced manufacturing and clean energy industries, Kellie said Washington state business leaders are having trouble finding the local STEM talent needed to stay competitive.
In fact, the State of Washington anticipates in the next two years it will have a STEM field workforce shortage of about 45,000 – because of unqualified candidates.
The Snoqualmie Valley School District is currently working to grow Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational programming in order to provide students with real world, hands-on training opportunities for STEM-related careers.
Washington FIRST is a nonprofit that supports four levels of free after school programming for students ages 6 – 18: FIRST LEGO League Jr., ages 6-9; FIRSTLEGO League, ages 9-14; FIRST Tech Challenge, ages 12-18; FIRST Robotics Competition, ages 14-18. Through its Robotics program, this volunteer driven organization works with over 11,000 young people across the state, aspiring them toward science, technology, engineer and math – all while learning teamwork and leadership skills.
In conjunction, the Snoqualmie Valley School District has three teams – a FIRST Tech Challenge Team at Mount Si High School; a FIRST Tech Challenge Team at Chief Kanim Middle School; and a FIRST LEGO League team at Snoqualmie Elementary.
Washington FIRST would love for all Snoqualmie Valley students to have access to this program. So on Thursday, April 14th, SVSD teacher Kyle Warren will be hosting Washington FIRST Robotics Open House in the Mount Si High School Freshman Campus Library from 4:45PM – 6:15PM.
This Open House is for educators, administrators, PTSA and parents to learn more about the four programs of Wasington FIRST.
Washington State OSPI also recently awarded Washington FIRST Robotics a $75k grant to help drive Computer Science/STEM equity statewide. The grant will help facilitate professional development for elementary and middle school teachers, with the goal of bringing robotics courses to students before they enter high school.