CHLI Highlights the Growing Importance of Developing the Next Generation of STEM Professionals
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) Highlights the Growing Importance of Developing the Next Generation of Hispanic STEM Professionals
Congressional Members and Expert Panel focus on the Dire Need to Promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics careers within the U.S. Hispanic Community.
Washington, DC (October 29, 2009) –The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) today hosted an insightful Congressional briefing on the theme: “STEM: How the U.S. Hispanic Community will Define the Future of U.S. Competitiveness.” This standing room only briefing centered on the growing importance Americans of Hispanic descent will have in the future innovation capacity, economic competitiveness, as well as the national security of the United States of America.
As part of its ongoing commitment of highlighting important public policy initiatives, the CHLI Congressional Briefing Series today brought together Members of Congress from both parties and a diverse group of expert panelists who are committed to building a greater awareness and consensus to increase the graduation rates of Americans of Hispanic descent in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in the coming years.
“As the Hispanic community in the U.S. becomes the fastest growing minority in our nation, our role in these fields will be increasingly important,” said Diaz-Balart. “Hispanics should be prepared to be leaders in STEM research, development and implementation. We have come a long way in education reform but more must be done to close the achievement gap for Hispanic students,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Member, House Science and Technology Committee.
Considering the demand in the coming years for a knowledge-based workforce and the growing demographics of the Hispanic community, the United States will potentially lose its competitive edge if the nation does not reduce the disparity in the drop-out rates within the Hispanic community. Americans of Hispanic descent account for approximately 16% of the US population and nearly 50% of the population growth making this not only a Hispanic challenge but also a national challenge of the highest priority.
In the next twenty years, studies show that between seventy to eighty million Americans will retire. While only five percent of the American workforce is currently employed in STEM-related jobs, Americans of Hispanic descent only comprise two percent of all STEM professionals.
Additionally, less than 40% of students intending to major in STEM fields upon college entrance actually complete a degree in these fields. For underrepresented minorities the rate is below 25%. With these numbers and the explosion of the Hispanic population throughout the country, this is alarming, discouraging, and a very serious threat to the competitiveness and prosperity of the United States.
“Today's CHLI Congressional Briefing is a call to action for all stakeholders to inspire a new generation of Hispanic STEM professionals to lead our nation in innovation, in creativity, and to ensure we have the needed skills to meet the yet unknown challenges awaiting us in the 21st Century,” said Octavio A. Hinojosa Mier, CHLI Executive Director. “If we, as a society, fail to awaken the passion for STEM careers, especially within today's K-12 students, our national security is serious risk.'
“As a country we have traditionally been very innovative but innovation needs to be continuously nurtured. This country needs a change of attitude towards invention and innovation and it starts with a renewed respect and understanding of science and the diversity of people who make great things,” said Dr. Alicia Abella, Executive Director, Network and IP Services Research Lab AT&T Labs.
Other featured speakers and panelists for today's briefing included Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-29), CHLI Vice-Chair; Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), Member, House Committee on Education and Labor; Victor Torres, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Frank Flores, Sector Vice President, Engineering, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
As one of the nation's leading Hispanic non-profit organization, CHLI also announced its participation in a growing coalition to help drive and increase the amount of Hispanics pursuing and graduating in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The CHLI Congressional Briefing Series is made possible with the generous support of Altria Client Services.
The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI, pronounced “chili”) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, based in Washington, D.C., that advances the diversity of thought in U.S. Hispanic community in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, as well as in the international community. For more information, please visit http://www.chli.org/. You may also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.