On this Pi Day, an annual celebration of the mathematical concept of Pi, Western Legislative Review is taking the opportunity to highlight WWU’s recent growth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
Western has experienced a surge in STEM enrollment growth and student demand for STEM majors in recent years. Since 2005, the number of STEM majors at Western has more than doubled, growing from approximately 1,300 students in 2005 to more than 2,600 students majoring in STEM today, which also includes a 400 percent increase in computer science majors since 2010.
Growth in STEM majors coincides with industry needs in Washington State, and Western graduates go on to work for top employers throughout the state. According to the Washington Roundtable, approximately 80 percent of unfilled jobs in the state are in highly skilled STEM fields. However, because of significant increases in student demand and limited resources, Western has been forced to cap all but one major within the College of Science and Engineering, limiting students’ ability to pursue STEM majors without increasing their overall time to degree.
To address the rapid rise in student demand for STEM subjects, Western has a legislative request to increase STEM capacity by alleviating bottlenecks in entry-level courses and producing an additional 100 STEM graduates each year. By increasing capacity in Math, Physics and Chemistry courses that are required for STEM majors, this package would assist Western students in their pursuit of STEM degrees, help meet employer demand for STEM graduates, and is estimated to reduce student time to degree by an average of two academic quarters, saving students and families thousands in tuition costs.