STEM Education Act Becomes Law

By Renee Dopplick, ACM Director of Public Policy

Computer science education got a boost when President Obama signed the STEM Education Act into law. It includes computer science in the definition of STEM, strengthens formal and informal STEM education activities at specified federal agencies, and expands STEM teaching fellowship programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

An accompanying Senate report explains that the inclusion of computer science is due, in part, to the growing need for talent in computer science-related fields. As cited by the report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that more than 50 percent of STEM jobs in 2020 will be in computer science and computing-related fields. The report indicates that many new STEM-related career fields, such as cybersecurity, will continue to emerge and grow over time.

“We must prepare our students for degrees in STEM subjects to ensure that they have the ability to thrive in today’s technology-based economy,” said House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith. The bill’s other co-sponsor, Rep. Elizabeth Betsy, said, “This bill strengthens our efforts at the federal level and ensures that critical computer science skills are included among STEM subjects.”

For educators, the NSF Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship program now allows teachers with bachelor’s degrees who are pursuing master’s degrees to participate in the program.