Path Home Shows 2013 Show Archive September 2013 Show 1337 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1337

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1337

This week on Oklahoma Horizon, we take a look at how science, technology, engineering and math education affects the workforce.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1337

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1337

For more information visit these links:

Gordon Cooper Technology Center


Oklahoma FIRST Robotics

Northrop Grumman

GE Global Research

State of Oklahoma

Lockheed Martin

Central Tech

Show Details

Show 1337: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: September 15, 2013



Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.”

Rob McClendon: Over the next 10 years, five out of every eight new jobs and eight out of every 10 of the highest paying positions in the United States will be in careers related to science, technology, engineering and math, commonly referred to as just STEM. Today, we take you to the governor’s inaugural STEM summit and look at the growing push to create STEM-based jobs in Oklahoma. Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Male Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Female Announcer: Oklahoma’s investment in CareerTech provides more than nationally recognized technology education and training, it produces solid financial returns for the state’s economic future. Oklahoma CareerTech, elevating our economy.

Male Announcer: An, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people grow good things. And now, from the CareerTech studios in Stillwater, here’s your host, Rob McClendon.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” It’s called STEM, a simple acronym for subjects that could determine our nation’s future. Science, technology, engineering and math -- they’re all fields that currently do not produce enough employees to fill current job demand, a demand that goes beyond just the needs of industry but impacts our entire way of life, even our national security. Joining me now is our Andy Barth.

Andy Barth: Rob, it seems the STEM fields are here to stay. Employers are now looking for workers who have skills needed to operate in manufacturing and technology jobs. And student organizations are doing their part in getting students excited about STEM. Last week, we left you with the FIRST Robotics competition, which is where we pick up today’s story. From engineering to programming, students involved in the FIRST Robotics competition are learning vital skills needed in today’s workforce.

Preston Warden: When I came to robotics, I knew that this is what I was meant to do, that this is where I was supposed to be. I started the pre-engineering program at Gordon Cooper because I was interested in science and math.

Andy: Preston Warden is a student at Gordon Cooper Technology Center and says STEM classes are preparing him for his future.

Warden: Well, the courses at Gordon Cooper are very college-based. I mean, I take AP courses all the time; I take engineering courses all the time. And they definitely push you to do better than what you are now.

Andy: And Warden’s robotics coach, Roger Farris, says students are directed toward big careers.

Roger Farris: We have students who work in research facilities. We have students who work for manufacturers. We have students who are at Tinker Field. We have students who are at Boeing. We have students who have gone to NASA. The list goes on and on, and the opportunities are almost endless. It’s hard to say where. They go everywhere.

Andy: And it’s those job opportunities that brought both lawmakers and educators together to the first STEM Summit in Oklahoma City because STEM is much more than building robots. It’s preparing students for vital careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Sophia Kim: It has built us to the success that we’re in today.

Andy: Sophia Kim is the strategic relations manager at Northrop Grumman and says engineers are the new popular.

Kim: I think being a geek is a cool thing. You know? I think it’s something that we have to strive towards.

Andy: And Kim says STEM is here to stay.

Kim: I mean, everyone has to understand that STEM education is the infrastructure of the United States’ economy.

Andy: An education that starts well before college.

Kim: I think we need to start as early as possible. I think it’s influenced by the teachers. I think it’s influenced by family members.

Andy: And Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Technology Stephen McKeever says education and industry go hand in hand.

Stephen McKeever: Industry and education need to be together in this game because it’s not a problem that either side can fix by themselves.

Andy: And McKeever says education looks to industry for guidance.

McKeever: In education, we need to know what kind of graduates we need to produce, how many of them we need to produce, and we need their help in energizing those young students into careers in STEM, so it’s got to be a partnership.

Andy: And Michael Ming of GE global research says industry must support education in order to stay globally competitive.

Michael Ming: Well, industry has a, I mean, a clearly vested interest. And so, you know, they’re going to be supporting universities, they’re going to be supporting specific STEM activities. I think you’ll see in order to maintain the innovative edge that corporations are going to reach out to support STEM because it’s their lifeblood if you’re in the technology business.

Kim: We have to be inclusive. We have to bring in women, especially in these engineering fields. I think women bring a different perspective that I think brings a fresh, new face on some of the problems that we have, some of the programs that we have.

Andy: Helping grow a workforce to fill the job demands for both today and tomorrow. Now women who work in STEM careers earn an average of 33 percent more than their counterparts in other fields, yet they currently only make up only 24 percent of the overall STEM workforce.

Rob: So it stands to reason if we want to increase the number of people going into the STEM fields, a good place to start is with that half of our population that is female.

Andy: Absolutely, Rob. Women are less likely to enter the STEM work fields and then more likely to leave earlier than their male counterparts. It’s a problem that experts attribute to a cultural stereotype, which, while still subtle, still exists today.

: All right. Thank you so much, Andy. Now, next week, we are going to meet some Oklahomans who have taken the road less traveled, trailblazing their own path to success. But when we return, I sit down with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to talk about closing a skills gap in today’s workforce.

Male Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon,” featuring some of the good things that are happening in the great state of Oklahoma.

Rob McClendon: Fifty years ago, a high school diploma would qualify you for about three of every four jobs. Today, that number has dropped to four out of every 10. And while 40 percent is still a significant percentage of the job market, only a third of those jobs pays more than $25,000 annually, just not enough to live a middle-class lifestyle. That’s why as the new chair of the National Governors Association, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is working with the governors in all 50 states to begin an initiative to align educational outcomes with workforce needs. I sat down with Gov. Fallin at this year’s STEM conference in Oklahoma City.

Gov. Mary Fallin: Well, as chair of the National Governors Association, we have the ability to set an agenda for the nation that’s bipartisan and both Republican and Democrat governors can support. And I’ve chosen my focus to be on America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs. Because, once again, if we don’t close that skills gap, if we don’t align education in the types of courses and certificates that are being awarded and degrees with what’s needed in the private sector, we’re not going to be competitive as a nation. So we’ve been working in Oklahoma to close that gap, to align education with business and industry. And we think as a nation it’s important for all of our states to do that. And so I have the great opportunity to work with our fellow governors to realign education so we can have a, what I call a pipeline to prosperity of our workforce.

Rob: Now we’re visiting today here at the, your inaugural STEM conference. Why is STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- why is that so important for the state?

Fallin: Well, STEM is very important for Oklahoma because it’s our future. If you look at manufacturing, for an example, you know the old days, if you wanted to get a manufacturing job, you basically showed up with a high school degree, maybe even less. But today, the manufacturing industry has changed tremendously. If you go into a modern-day manufacturing facility, you see there’s all kinds of technical computer equipment, machines that you run. So, you know, things have changed in our nation. But STEM is also very important for the types of jobs we want to attract, the higher-paying type of jobs, in our state. The aerospace industry, defense industry, you know, the energy sector, which is key industries in our state. Agriculture is certainly very key. You know, we have to have those who have skills in science and math and technology and engineering to be able to keep up these industries in our state. And so today our STEM Summit is focusing on how do we develop a road map for Oklahoma so that we can reach those educational attainment levels in the right types of educational fields required by industry.

Rob: Yeah, and honestly this comes at a time when we are seeing record college debt for our graduates, young people, and a fairly high dropout rate, something, what, over 40 percent. How do we get those two to match up?

Fallin: Well, we’re going to reach down further into our school systems into basically middle school and certainly into high school and start talking to our students about the types of courses that they need to take to find things that they are interested in, in the future, whether they get a career technology certificate to go into some type of profession or whether they go into some type of college degree program, and what types of professions they might find interesting. There’s a lot of students who may not know that if you took a little bit of math and science you could develop robots like we’re seeing here at the STEM Summit. That’s something exciting that kids like to do. Now, they like their computer programs, they like their phone applications. You know, those are things our students can identify with but we’ve got to reach deep down into, say, the middle school and start talking to our children about the professions, the skill sets that they would need to find a job that would be interesting for them in the future.

Rob: What role do skills and skill certifications and vocational skills, what role will they play in this new 21st century economy?

Fallin: Well, if we look at the United States and where we fall within the 34 industrialized nations in the world, America is falling behind. We’re 14th in reading, we’re 25th in math, 17th in science. We’ve got to do a better job in the United States in getting our skill sets up so we can be competitive as a nation.

Rob: All right. Certainly some exciting times here in the state and in the country. Thank you so much Madam Governor.

Fallin: Thank you. I appreciate you.

Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” finding a better future fighting cancer. But first, living the American dream.

Rob McClendon: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the future of our economy is tied to today’s educational outcomes. But my next guest says it doesn’t hurt being one either. Norm Augustine is a one-time rocket scientist who went on to become the CEO of the aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and says what happens in today’s classrooms will determine our country’s future from the boardroom all the way to the factory floor.

Norman Augustine: You know, if you visit a classroom in America, it’ll look very much like it looked when I went to school or when my parents went to school. There are desks, blackboards, chalk and so on. Technology is beginning, just beginning to have an impact, finally. But our, by world standards, we’re losing ground, and that’s really important because our educational level is going to determine whether we can compete for jobs around the world. And our young people, if they don’t have the education of a young man or woman in Korea or China, the jobs will go to Korea or China. It’s so easy today to move work abroad. And it’s not just in the factories, it’s in most fields. There are accounting firms now who move their accounting abroad, tax firms move their tax preparation abroad. If you have a CAT scan read today in America, there’s a good chance that it will be read by a physician in either Australia or in India. And U.S. companies have software written in Bangalore, India. And they write their daytime, which is our nighttime, transmit it here in a millisecond, and it could be tested here and sent back there at the beginning of their work the next day. So the world is flat, it absolutely is, and in that world, Oklahoma doesn’t compete with Ohio, as I said in my remarks. It competes with Osaka and other places like that.

Rob: Are the STEM skills you have been talking about today, and we’ve been talking about, are they just as important on say, the factory floor? Because Lockheed produces a lot of things as they are, say, in the design room for the engineers.

Augustine: Yeah, I think that the STEM skills are inherent in most of the jobs that are going to be available in the years ahead. And today as we sit here there are 3 million jobs open in the United States, most of which require STEM capabilities, and most of the people who applied don’t have STEM capabilities. And that’s the STEM gap. That’s the dilemma we face.

Rob: So as a rocket scientist, what is your formula for 21st century jobs for the U.S.?

Augustine: You know if we’re going to have jobs in the 21st century, I think there are two things we’ve got to do much better at among many others, but two stand out. One is to improve our K-12 education system, particularly in STEM, and the second is to increase our investment in basic research because that’s where ideas come from, knowledge. And the reason this is so hard to get across is education takes a long time, research takes a long time, and as a nation, we’re focused on solving problems right now. We’re not good at solving problems that take 10 years to solve. And we’ve got to learn to do that because if we don’t educate our young people in STEM, if we don’t invest in basic research, the jobs are going to just keep going out of this country. In one recent period, there were U.S. companies created 2.9 million new jobs. But they got rid of 2.4 million jobs in the U.S. at the same time. The 2.9 million were abroad, and so that’s the world we’re headed for if we don’t start doing things differently. And by doing differently I mean we’ve got to bring the free enterprise system to education in this country.

Rob: And I want you to talk more about that. What do you mean by bringing the free enterprise system into education?

Augustine: To me, bringing the free enterprise system to education is to bring the strategy, if you will, that’s worked so well in every other area including our higher education system. And what it means is to introduce competition into education. It means to pay a physics teacher whatever it takes to get a physicist to teach physics, not to ask the phys ed teacher to teach physics. It means paying a great teacher more than a good teacher and to helping a poor teacher find something else for a career. It means giving the parents options of where their kids go to school. It’s all those things that have made the free enterprise system so effective. And I think if it comes down to one word, it’s competition. We all excel under competition. And we all tend to find the things that we’re good at, and that’s true of education as well.

Rob: And we’ve talked mostly about younger students, but what is the role in this ever-evolving economy of retraining and skills?

Augustine: Great question. In my remarks that I just made, I referred to the fact that the first trajectory I ever calculated, being a space engineer of sorts, I did it with a slide rule, and it was a trajectory from Earth to Mars, and that’s in my lifetime, and today a computer cranks that out in a nanosecond. And if you don’t keep up with going from slide rules to computers, from going to standard biology to microbiology, from going conventional oil recovery to fracking, if you don’t keep up, your career will be dead-ended and you’ll be middle age by the time you’re 30, professionally. And keeping up, I think, requires a great support for community colleges. Also our great universities, but I think community colleges have a particularly important role in keeping a workforce that’s current.

Rob McClendon: Want to share something you’ve seen here today? Well, all of our episodes are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV, or you can subscribe to our weekly free podcast on iTunes.

Rob McClendon: Well, when people think of high-tech jobs, they typically think of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Ivy League Ph.D.s. But according to a new definition of STEM jobs, those requiring skills in science, technology, engineering or math, half of all high-tech positions are held by employees without a bachelor's degree. Joining me now is Oklahoma’s Secretary of Education and the Director of Oklahoma CareerTech Dr. Bob Sommers. So give us a little bit of background. The numbers we are talking about come from a study by the Brookings institute.

Bob Sommers: Yes, Brookings took a look at the actual jobs that were out there and which ones really require a lot of science, technology, engineering and math. And what they found is the initial studies had narrowly defined STEM to about 5 percent of the workforce, which about 75 percent of those require a bachelor’s degree or higher. They broadened it slightly and said all those high-tech careers that require a lot of science and math and engineering actually accounted for 20 percent of the workforce, a significant part of the workforce. And when we define it in those terms, about 40-45 percent of the jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher. The vast majority of those jobs are actually with industry credentials, associate degrees and a few with high school diplomas.

Rob: So what does that tell you in terms of Oklahoma’s educational outcomes? What do we need to be thinking about?

Sommers: Well, we first of all need to double down on what we’re already doing. We’re ramping up math and science in the high schools. We’re adding technology and engineering through Project Lead The Way and a lot of other initiatives that will expose young people to the entire STEM concept. We have CareerTech that’s delivering industry credentials while you’re still in high school, but also as adults. And we’ve got a great community college system and higher ed system to finish out the process.

Rob: Now, I think it’s probably important to point out though that this isn’t an either-or proposition. We’re not talking just bachelor degrees or just industry credentials.

Sommers: That’s correct. In fact, a Georgetown study in reviewing the economic productivity of adults found that if you have an industry credential first and then you earn an associate or bachelor’s degree, you actually make more money than those folks that went straight to an associate degree or bachelor’s degree. So this is great news. If I’m in high school or I’m recently graduated from high school, go to CareerTech, earn an industry credential, get a good paying job, I immediately become productive, I can take care of myself. I can earn enough money to pay for college without going into debt, and when I’m all done with the entire series, I’m making more money than the people that just ignored the industry credential and went straight to higher ed.

Rob: Now, one of the things we kept on hearing at the STEM conference, and it’s almost a recurring theme, is that we need to have more investment in STEM. Does that mean reinvestment in what we’re doing or does it mean investment into something new?

Sommers: I think it’s probably more of a readjustment of resources. We need first of all to begin with young people and expose them to all the career options including STEM so that they pick their passion or purpose in life and are excited about it. That starts in the early grades. Make a much better job, and if you’ll remember at the STEM conference, they talked about needing to get people excited earlier in their education. So we excite kids. We have them get excited about career options, and then we move them through high school, we expect more of them in the high school. So that’s not a new investment as much as it is really making good use of the existing investment. And then the big thing is if I’ve got industry credential, I’m a taxpaying citizen instead of a reliant person that’s not generating taxes, and then I can move on to higher ed. We need to invest at all levels of that educational experience. But we can get more out of each level. We can get more done. And it goes back to the both-and -- college prep and technical at the same time. I have more choices coming out of high school, I have more likelihood of continuing my career and my education, and I make more money. The state of Oklahoma is better off.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Secretary Sommers. Now, if you would like to see the complete list of the STEM jobs that do require a certification, but not a degree, we do have a link to that list on our website that details both the demand and the pay for these jobs. Just go to

Rob McClendon: Well, you can keep up with us throughout the week. Just head to, where you can see more of any of our stories, read our reporters’ behind-the-scenes blogs, see what others are saying about us on Twitter and face the facts with our regular updates. So reach out and touch us anywhere and anytime.

Rob McClendon: Well, like most issues we examine here on “Horizon,” we focus today on the economic impact of STEM jobs, but there are also some very real social benefits as well. With the story of a young man entering the biosciences field for the love of family, joining me now is our Alisa Hines.

Alisa Hines: Rob, here is a number for you, 1.6 million. That is how many Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. And of those, roughly a third will eventually die from it. Sobering statistics that become all too real when a cancer victim is someone you love. Ricky Shriner loves science.

Ricky Shriner: Pretty much ever since I was little, I always said I wanted to do something in the science field just growing up. And kinda with my grandma, she helped me with it all the time. It was kinda always did all kinds of different card games and everything, but it was always related to animals.

Alisa: But after Grandma developed ovarian and breast cancer --

Shriner: Had to go through chemo three, four times or so and radiation treatments about the same. And she’s not just doing the lower level chemo, it’s always the high end, the harshest you can get. And from her recovery time, you’re literally almost having to carry her everywhere she goes. And for the first week it’s OK, but as soon as it’s done, everything catches up, and everything in the body starts, it’s just killing everything. And that’s the best way that we have to kill cancer currently. And it’s not right to put somebody through that.

Alisa: So Ricky’s love of science is now focused on one thing, striking back at cancer.

Shriner: I wanted to work on a way to help fight cancer that wasn’t going to completely destroy your entire system and put her through like what she had to go through. At Central Tech, in probably my junior year, I found something that, they did a nanotech program all summer, and one of them was with nanoshells. And with that I started looking more at it, and there was a possibility that they would use that to help with a cancer treatment. For my senior year there, as a biomedical program, you have to do an end of the year senior project, and that’s what I decided to work on.

Alisa: And using what he learned at Central Tech, Ricky is furthering his education at OSU.

Shriner: My professor, the first day, he was already naming off like different types of lab equipment, how to use it and everything. And he said I was probably one of the best students he had coming in, more than even his graduate students, on how to use lab equipment and different techniques to go with it. So they really teach you a lot of everything you have there. Right now, I plan on getting a degree in plant bioengineering. And with that, I want to go into medical research and do something more with cancer.

Alisa: A head start on the road to finding a cure. And who knows? Maybe someday it will be Ricky or someone like Ricky whose discoveries lessen both the human and financial costs of cancer.

Rob: And we wish him well. Thank you so much, Alisa.

Alisa: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob McClendon: Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we meet some Oklahomans who have taken the road less traveled. And as poet Robert Frost wrote, that has made all the difference.

I don’t think we planned on it, in any way, shape or form. When it comes to diversifying, it’s just kind of happened. You get one thing done, and we continually have a project that we need to do.

Rob: Choosing your own path, on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Rob McClendon: Looks like we are out of time. I’m Rob McClendon. Thanks for watching.

Male Announcer: “Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. Thank you for watching “Oklahoma Horizon.”