According to the US Department of Education, only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a career in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) field. Even among students who do major in a STEM field, only about half go on to work in a related career.
As an industry, we have a responsibility to not only prepare today’s students for careers in STEM fields but also to excite and engage them in the sciences so that they continue in these fields. Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of leading global pharmaceutical company, Sanofi, and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, are addressing this challenge head on through the BioGENEius Challenge.
Our companies are taking an active role in changing and shaping the future of the life sciences industry through our sponsorship of this unique competition, which is being showcased here at the 2014 BIO International Convention. The BioGENEius Challenge recognizes outstanding research in biotechnology by high school students. It provides young STEM innovators and entrepreneurs a venue to showcase their research and helps to build a long-term support system for converting their dreams
Why is it important for companies like ours to become involved in STEM education?
People with strong science and technology backgrounds can be a scarce resource in today’s workforce. There are too few university students graduating in STEM fields to fill the positions required for the companies represented here at the BIO International Convention. The demand far outweighs the supply.
One thing is clear: the future of our industry depends on STEM education and exciting students about the sciences. Given the tremendous job growth that we are seeing – and expect to see – in order for the US to maintain our position as a global leader in biotechnology, businesses like ours must invest in our future scientists.
Through the BioGENEius Challenge, Sanofi Pasteur and Janssen are helping to cultivate young and innovative scientists as they seek to address global challenges in human health, food, and the environment using biotechnology. By bringing these students to the Convention, the BioGENEius Challenge offers a venue where exceptional biotech students are cheered on and celebrated by an entire industry.
That motivation and support has powered past BioGENEius competitors to take home prizes in Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair, the prestigious Science Talent Search, and the White House Science Fair. Winners and finalists are now researchers at top-tier universities and CEOs of their own companies.
There is a huge opportunity and need for life science companies to get involved in STEM education. Together, we can turn the tide and foster tomorrow’s life science workforce. Visit their display in the Sails Pavilion.