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College is a Significant Contributor to STEM Workforce Needs

1 November 2013 | 10:26 am By:

The U.S. is becoming increasingly technology dependent, which is causing growth in STEM jobs and wages, along with a projected national shortage of qualified workers. With 345 STEM graduates in 2012, the College of Charleston is a significant contributor to the workforce needs. Sixteen percent of the College’s graduates earn degrees in science or mathematics fields.

In 2011-12, College of Charleston produced a comparable number of science and math (biology/marine biology, chemistry/biochemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, physics, astronomy) graduates as the state’s larger research-oriented universities. Despite having more than double the enrollment, the University of South Carolina produces only 415 graduates in these fields, and Clemson University, also with a significantly larger enrollment than the College, produced 403 graduates in the fields listed.

Recent College of Charleston graduates are doing research at Boeing, working as medical researchers at MUSC, and are K-12 STEM teachers in Charleston area schools. They are also in California working at Pandora and Google, and in New York doing interface design for Time, Inc.

[Related: Computer science students tour Cali. tech giants.]

Despite not offering a degree in engineering, the College still has recent graduates in engineering departments of international construction companies and earning their master’s degrees in nuclear engineering.

Of the STEM fields compared, the overwhelming majority of students across each S.C. institution major in biology, followed by chemistry and computer science. The College leads the number of undergraduates at each school receiving degrees in geology, physics and astronomy, as well as the percentage of all graduates receiving degrees in these STEM fields.

[Related: TIME Magazine: The Next Great Resources Shortage: U.S. Scientists.]

Michael Auerbach, Dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics, is confident that the number of STEM graduates of the College will only grow in the face of a projected national shortage.

“With our location in Charleston, I can’t see interest doing anything but increasing,” Auerbach said, crediting a combination of opportunities in local STEM industries such as digital technology, medicine and marine biology and unique programs offered through partnerships with organizations including NASA and Boeing. The College awards a higher percentage of STEM degrees than Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.

[Related :US News and World Report: Colleges Fight to Retain Interest of STEM Majors]

The greater Charleston area offers a wealth of opportunities for computer science chemistry, biochemistry, biology, marine biology and geology majors, both through field studies and industry experiences.

The Charleston Digital Corridor alone represents a tremendous and growing need for computer science graduates. Auerbach declared the Digital Corridor’s call for more computer science graduates a challenge the School of Science and Mathematics is happy to meet.

[Related: Fast Company: Introducing “Silicon Harbor”: Charleston, SC, Home of TwitPic and Amazon’s CreateSpace]

Nearby beaches like Folly and Sullivan’s Island also serve as field laboratories for many physical science classes, making Charleston a natural choice for students eager for hands-on experience.

[Related: College of Charleston geology program internationally recognized for training ocean surveyors.]

High College of Charleston STEM rankings rivaling those at large research universities like Clemson and the University of South Carolina demonstrate the College’s dedication to providing students and faculty with highly competitive, varied and comprehensive STEM programs.

Dean Mike Auerbach can be reached at


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