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Study predicts poor chances of success for STEM programs

The number of scientists in training vastly exceeds the number that will successfully land a faculty position at an academic institution.
Credit: Mira Chendler Usage Restrictions: Credit Required

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program is probably going to see a large number of scientists that cannot find a job in the future. David van Dijk of the Weizmann Institute of Science investigated then potential for new graduates in the sciences for achieving academic notoriety and longevity and found the future bleak. The study was published in the June 2, 2014, edition of the journal Current Biology.

The probability for success in academia is directly dependent on a person’s success in publication. Publication of a person’s work in a high-profile and widely read publication was found to be mandatory for academic success in the sciences by the researchers. The study notes that many of the most important scientific achievements of the last century received little notice in major publications. The researchers note that luck plays a significant role in becoming a famous scientist.

While academia is not the only path to success for scientists and engineers, schools do get a majority of research funding. The projected funding for scientific research according to the International Business Times will be flat for 2015. This does not bode well for employment for new grads in the sciences.

The STEM program was first initiated by the Bush administration and has had continued support by the Obama administration. Sequestration and budget cuts have diminished funding for most science related government organizations and schools. The heavy stress on medical research funding reduces funding for pure science.

Science majors seek academic positions because the income is reasonably good and after two years and tenure you have a position for life. Scientists look to government agencies for similar employment opportunities that will last and have great benefits. Industry produces a large number of science jobs but you actually have to compete and perform with no guarantees.