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Science, technology investment needed

Scott Meacham: The other day someone asked, what's the most critical element to an innovation economy? Given that I'm an executive whose career has been primarily in finance, my answer may have been a little unexpected.
Published: June 25, 2013
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The other day someone asked me, “What's the most critical element to an innovation economy?”

Given that I'm an executive whose career has been primarily in finance, my answer may have been a little unexpected.

It's the people, of course.

As important as investment capital is, it's the inventors and risk-takers — the curious humans with breakthrough ideas and problem-solving skills — that are the lifeblood successful startups and job creation.

There is enormous demand for this type of talent.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions are expected to add 2.8 million new jobs by 2018. That calls for the U.S. to step up the current rate of STEM graduates by more than 30 percent.

However, once in college, about 60 percent of students planning engineering and science majors either switch to non-STEM majors or fail to earn any degree. After graduation, 43 percent of STEM graduates choose not to work in the field.

Compare those stats with the track record of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM). Of the first 1,000 OSSM graduates, 85 percent have stayed in a technical field for their chosen profession. More than half of OSSM degreed graduates who are in the workforce are working in Oklahoma.

OSSM accepts students from all over Oklahoma and is continually recognized as one of the top public STEM high schools in the U.S. There is no tuition; OSSM accepts applications from any Oklahoma student entering their junior year of high school.

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