"Given the demands of today’s global economy, it is more important than ever before that our students leave our schools with a solid education in both math and science."
"Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation."
The two quotes above came from President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but which came from which?
The real answer is it doesn't matter. Cast politics aside, because everyone can agree the jobs of the future will take a direct route through the science classroom. That begins in middle and high school, continues into the university, and doesn't even need to stop there.
Burlington County College has staked the same claim, offering an ever-broadening variety of science-based curricula and degree programs. Several associate degrees are offered to let ambitious students dive straight into our nation's energy and sustainability issues.
And at the heart of each: creating employment opportunities.
From the introduction on the Alternative Energy Technologies degree: "Job market research shows that approximately 85% of green jobs in New Jersey are in two areas—Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, including solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels/biomass."
That, combined with the degrees in Sustainable Energy Studies and Energy Management, round out a leading-edge and first-class education, and it's found at BCC's campuses in Pemberton and Mount Laurel. Many choose to take these degrees and enter the workforce, while others transfer to a four-year university for further study.
A fourth degree, Sustainability—Policy & Management, is slated for the fall semester.
It all shows a commitment to an unequivocal trend: Employers are in need of skilled, educated individuals with a background in energy-related sciences. That means getting hands-on as energy auditors, utility specialists and recycling technicians, but also engineers, legal practitioners, and finance professionals, each pertinent to the fast-advancing green industries.
Could graduates of these programs go on to break records of the efficiency of solar cells? Or help move us to a smart grid? Crack the energy storage riddle? Or maybe just launch job-producing startups performing energy audits? They're all critical functions for a 21st-century superpower faced with coming resource shortages.
Younger students would be well-served to focus on the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). BCC has programs in place for them as well.
Through a generous $180,000 grant from Inductotherm Corp., a Rancocas, NJ-headquartered leader in materials melting and thermal processing, BCC is also launching a multi-faceted initiative that includes jobs training programs, but also summer camps for 7th and 8th graders. Starting in June, the weeklong camps' subject matter focuses on either NASA, environmental issues, or marine science and technology.
When taught properly, any school curriculum spills right out of the classroom and continues seamlessly into the real world. But no other subject is currently as critical to our nation's future, or to a soon-to-come generation of job-seekers, as are the core sciences. At every level of education, we should be aggressively promoting it. That includes adulthood; after all, science isn't all about degrees.
That will wrap up my time contributing to Moorestown Patch. Thank you readers and commenters alike, and if the subjects I've covered—clean energy tech, resource conservation and self-sufficient, sustainable living—interest you outside of Patch, take a look at my recently published ebook, The Good Green Fight, available on Amazon. It's a compilation of fascinating accounts and essays from leading minds across the wide world of sustainability. Feel free to stay in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.