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Welcome to the SIM STEM Outreach Program!
SIM STEM Outreach – A History and Transformation
In 2005, the Society for Information Management (SIM) published a paper entitled "Trends and Implications for the IT Workforce." Academics engaged in teaching Computing courses all over the country were interviewed to gauge the current and future state of IT workforce development. One of the most startling findings, borne out by enrollment statistics, was that enrollment in Computing programs in U.S. colleges and universities was falling at alarming rates. In some programs enrollment had declined as much as 75%. Other programs had ceased to exist. The implication was that the U.S. was falling behind the rest of the world in developing a Technology workforce and would continue to do so unless something was done to reverse the trend.
As a result SIM developed the Future Potential in IT program to reach out to college students to encourage them to pursue degrees and careers in Information Technology. For the last several years, with the encouragement of SIM International, Future Potential in IT and similar IT Career Days have been conducted on a regional basis by SIM chapters at area colleges and universities. As originally envisioned Future Potential in IT was a half-day program conducted on college campuses. Chapters have had the freedom to design their local versions. A typical program would consist of refreshments, the opportunity to network with current IT professionals, and one or more speakers. Speakers are usually IT executives from local companies the students recognize. The program might also include a panel consisting of graduates of that institution who have successful careers in technology, complete with a "question and answer" period allowing the students to quiz senior IT professionals about their career choices.
Students have enthusiastically received these programs and have even helped organize and present them. At an event held at Northeastern University, all the seats were filled and many students resorted to sitting on windowsills. At every institution where a Future Potential in IT or IT Career Day event has been held, enrollments have increased.
SIM and its Chapters continue to recognize the importance of reaching out to influence college students’ choice of major. But they have also recognized the need to engage students much earlier in their education. SIM Chapters have begun to participate and sponsor STEM initiatives across the K – College level spectrum. This has included Chapter partnerships with YearUp, donations nearing $200,000 annually in college scholarships and a mix of locally designed and national programs such as: "IT for Girls," "icStars," "NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing," "CyberGirlz Technology Camp," and various other Teen Tech Camps.
The 2012 Chapter Leadership Summit, held in St. Louis, was attended by the top leaders from SIM Chapters across the country. At that Summit Chapters approved a proposal to expand the boundaries of the FPIT program to encompass all present STEM-related initiatives and to serve as a vehicle to encourage the identification and exploration of such programs at the Chapter level. The goal is for STEM initiatives which succeed in one chapter to be shared with other Chapters. We believe synergy among the Chapters will leverage our STEM Outreach.Beyond that goal, SIM and its Chapters will be involved in both helping teachers to introduce the broad variety of Computing degrees and career choices and influencing the curriculum employed to prepare the next generation of IT workers.
A recent analysis shows that involvement in STEM Outreach is central to most existing Chapter Community Outreach programs. Chapter Outreach will continue to support other philanthropic efforts, but STEM initiatives are expected to expand. This "transformed” Future Potential in IT program, re-branded STEM Outreach, will help SIM fulfill a key part of our mission, promoting careers in IT. STEM Outreach serves the best interests of our Society, our members and the organizations --- for-profit, non-profit, government and academic --- which employ them. SIM featured discussion of STEM initiatives at SIMposium 2012 in Dallas and will continue to focus on the topic at future SIMposium events and regional CIO forums.