Americans need to “get over their fear of math and science,” said Freeman Hrabowski III, a mathematician and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, at the annual Advanced Technological Education (ATE) conference.
Most people can learn math and science, “if given the opportunity, if given the high expectations,” Hrabowski said.
UMBC organizes minority students into support that discuss classwork outside of class. He also urged analyzing student success data and providing financial support to undergraduates.
“We understand a grad student needs support, but we somehow don’t understand that if someone is doing something in biotech or IT (information technology) and they have to work 30 hours on the outside, it is almost impossible to complete the program because … it cannot be a part-time thing,” he said. “You’ve got to be there every night working on it.”
Students and their parents need to see that math and science education leads to high-paying, satisfying careers, Hrabowski said. “It’s very important for families to have a sense of the possibilities,” he said. “Most Americans don’t know how a particular program connects to particular job opportunities.”
In addition to innovative programs at community colleges, ATE activities encompass outreach to high school students, professional development for teachers and college faculty, and research on technician education.
NSF is looking for ways to help community colleges teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Ferrini-Mundy said.