About this Project

The NSF-funded E-STEM project (Grant #1540559) was designed "to engage a diverse cohort of Environmental-STEM (E-STEM) at 4-year colleges and universities (4YCUs) and community colleges (2YCs) in hands-on career-applicable experiences that will launch students into the geoscience workforce." (Walker et al, 2015) Preparing a future workforce in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines is vital to the economic prosperity of our nation. In light of an aging geoscience workforce that exhibits a lack of ethnic diversity when compared with other STEM fields, the geoscience community must develop new models of mentorship for pre-career and early career personnel to build and sustain the skills, diversity, and size of the workforce. Existing STEM retention and diversity programs have recognized access to field and professional experiences as critical to helping students identify as scientists, form networks, and gain important skills necessary for employment in a variety of public and private sectors.

This project had three primary goals:

  1. Expand student awareness of traditional and nontraditional geoscience career options and the skills and content knowledge beneficial in preparing for these careers
  2. Facilitate student development of professional networks in the geoscience community prior to their transition to 4YCUs and/or the workforce
  3. Develop a system for documenting and archiving student career preparation and skills acquisition
Read more about the E-STEM student experience in this article by Ngawang Chhoedron at the College of the Atlantic.
To achieve these goals, we engaged geoscience professionals from academia, public agencies, consulting firms, and non-profit organizations (the stakeholders) to identify key geoscience and environmental geoscience career skills and content knowledge students should learn before entering the workforce. We used this information to develop a field course experience followed by post-field post-field career activities to provide students with opportunities to learn and demonstrate the skills needed in the workforce. Furthermore, we developed an E-STEM Badge System to recognize mastery of these skills and concepts.

Project Evaluation » People and Institutions » Presentations and Publications »

Work Cited

Walker, B., Hall, S., and Schmidt, C., 2015, ESTEM Proposal Summary