MADISON, Wis. — As demand for STEM workers is slated to grow, college programming has to grow as well.
There are over 20 STEM programs at Madison College. The heart of some of those programs is the STEM Center.
Angela Yang is the center’s senior coordinator. She doesn’t have an official STEM background, but loved technology growing up.
“I was like, ‘oh, the VCR is not working. Let’s take it apart, let’s put it together,’” she laughed.
When she took on the coordinator role at the STEM center, she set out to learn as much as she could. One of her favorite projects was making earrings.
“I was like, ‘ooh, can I engrave a Hmong design?' Because that’s my ethnicity,’” Yang said.
Now, she wears them often with pride.
Students in the Ingenuity Wing at the Truax campus have access to all kinds of technology.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM fields has grown 79% over the last 30 years. It’s supposed to grow another 11% between 2020 and 2030.
“We both would like to get design positions somewhere,” said Madison College student Ryan Wesemann, referring to himself and his friend Carlo Agbulos. “I know we’re both motor sports fans, so designing cars or racecars would be wonderful.”
The National Science Foundation reported that STEM fields have become more diverse over the last decade or so. In 2011, 26% of people in STEM positions were racial or ethnic minorities. In 2021, that number rose to 36%. Women are also underrepresented in the field, only making up approximately 35% of the workforce.
“I come from an underrepresented background as a Hmong-American woman,” Yang said. “I didn’t even know what STEM was until I went to college. And that was only 10 years ago!”
She said the more programs they provide, the more opportunities students have to explore, the more diverse the workforce will be in the future.
“It’s not just for white men,” Yang said. “It’s for everyone.”