STEM Education in Florida: What You Need to Know

STEM Education in Florida: What You Need to Know

What is STEM education?

STEM education focuses on the cross-discipline teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In recent years, universities have experienced an increase in the number of students enrolled in STEM-focused degrees, as the demand for STEM workers is on a steady rise. Emerging trends in technology and the job market require an advanced understanding of science and technology.

Future economic growth in Florida and across the nation is projected to be driven by the workforce’s ability to design, implement, test and generate innovative ideas, products and services that involve science and technology. Students who earn a degree in a STEM discipline and attend a STEM-focused school in Florida will be job ready to join the knowledge-based workforce.

STEM schools in Florida enable students to accelerate their careers by offering courses, internship opportunities and learning environments that foster creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. STEM education in Florida is focused on generating new ideas, concepts and theories that address real-world challenges and spur scientific breakthroughs.

Florida Polytechnic University, a top engineering school in Florida, prides itself on offering a rigorous curriculum, small class sizes and faculty with experience in the classroom and in industry. The traditional academic experience combined with a hands-on applied learning approach enables students to hit their stride as soon as they graduate and enter the job market. Florida Poly distinguishes itself from other STEM schools in Florida by offering six degrees across 19 areas of concentration. Florida Poly graduates have the skills, education and confidence to be lifetime employable in the fast-evolving global labor market.

Why study STEM education in Florida?

STEM educational institutions in Florida offer degrees and concentrations that give students the skills and knowledge to be competitive in the job market.

Florida’s economy is driven by constant innovation and an entrepreneurial culture. Florida’s economic growth is expected to be driven by the rising demand for knowledge workers in the expanding information society. This workforce is innovative, dynamic and well-educated. In today’s society, graduates must have an understanding of advanced science, mathematical principles and problem-solving skills. Graduates with a STEM education are helping to solve the complex problems of Florida’s future.

STEM education is a pressing need as the number of jobs grows but there are not enough trained workers to fill them. Receiving a STEM education in Florida allows students to gain employment and lead the nation’s advanced technology sectors.

By 2018, Florida will need to fill an estimated 411,000 STEM jobs. With six specialized undergraduate degrees, two master’s degrees and 19 concentrations, graduates from Florida Polytechnic University are prepared to enter Florida’s STEM fields and embark on their career paths.

Graduates with a STEM education in Florida will provide the state and the nation with intellectual capital and the resources to solve real-world challenges. Scientists, technologists and engineers will research, test and develop innovative ideas that are central to Florida’s economic growth. Workers proficient in computer skills and advanced technology will meet the ever-changing demands of the evolving technology sector. In addition, research and development from STEM industry leaders helps everyday citizens in Florida and across the nation lead better lives. STEM workers make contributions in most aspects of the economy, including energy sustainability, health care and manufacturing.

Can you describe the difference between a STEM-focused education and the type of education received at a traditional university?

A STEM-focused education molds today’s students into tomorrow’s advanced technology leaders. A STEM education is more focused and effective compared to an education gained at a traditional university or a tech school in Florida, because the hands-on teaching model equips students with the knowledge, experience and skill set to transition into careers in engineering and advanced technology.

The average student today is familiar with emerging technologies and trends, making this generation more adaptable to assume positions in advanced high-tech fields. A new breed of learners has emerged, and those studying STEM disciplines are able to take full advantage of a hands-on teaching approach and applied learning.

Traditional education tends to allow students to gain a broad overview and understanding of concepts through book learning and memorization. Conversely, universities and STEM schools in Florida and across the nation offer classes and degrees that are specialized, focused and build skill sets. Student coursework within STEM disciplines allow them to focus on the practical use of applications. For example, Florida Polytechnic University has innovation labs dedicated to research in robotics, data visualization, media and entrepreneurship. Students are not just learning, they are doing. Classrooms are equipped with the latest interactive technologies and experiential learning that is the hallmark of the educational experience. Florida Poly offers students the same technology that they will be using on the job. Many traditional education platforms are not able to offer these types of degrees and concentrations. That is why Florida Poly grads are ahead of the curve.

What are the average salaries that students can expect when graduating with a STEM education degree in Florida?

The rising demand to hire STEM graduates encourages students to pursue a career in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Salaries within STEM disciplines depend on a variety of factors such as industry, location, company size, years of work experience and level of education. Students should be knowledgeable about the entry-level salaries in these fields as well as potential earnings. According to, students can expect to make between $40,000-$75,000 when graduating with a STEM degree from a Florida college or university.

What should a student look for in a STEM university in Florida?

Students seeking to obtain an engineering degree in Florida should be knowledgeable about the university’s curriculum, post-graduation opportunities, faculty and facility. The educational experience that a university offers during a student’s undergraduate career is imperative to future success. Students should look for universities that provide them with skills for employment upon graduation. Universities that offer several degrees and concentrations will provide students with the advanced knowledge and experience in the field while positioning themselves as hirable candidates post-graduation.

In addition, students should look for universities that offer opportunities to work with advanced technology and support them in their educational endeavor. Students working with the same tools and resources that they will after graduation are ahead of their peers looking for work. For example, Florida Poly allows students use tools such the University’s supercomputer, cyber security lab, 3D printing systems and other technologies as they pursue a mechanical and industrial engineering degree.

Students with the opportunity to learn from technology leaders gain insightful knowledge and experience in the field. Advanced knowledge in STEM disciplines will help students gain employment and set them apart from other graduates entering the workforce. Universities that foster scientific research and motivate students to think like entrepreneurs are schools that position their graduates as leaders in STEM fields.

Universities that prepare students for employment after graduation are critical to their success. Students who look for universities that offer internship and research opportunities before graduation will help them build a professional network and land a job quickly post graduation.

What are the top STEM industries in Florida?

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has outlined the top ten industries (by major occupational group) that are in demand in the state of Florida. The second most in-demand industries are in computer science and mathematics. These cover careers as computer systems analysts and computer user support specialists. Ranking fourth were careers in architecture and engineering with careers like industrial and mechanical engineering.

What types of careers can students expect upon graduating from a STEM school in Florida?

“The future of the economy is in STEM,” says James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C. “That’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.” Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics supports this statement. STEM occupations are expected to grow to more than nine million between 2012 and 2022.

Students graduating from a STEM school in Florida can expect to hit the ground running with employment opportunities across various industries. Depending on the type of degree and concentration, students can expect employment in manufacturing, healthcare, technical services, transportation, energy and telecommunications, among others.

Students can apply their degree concentrations to solve today’s world challenges in fields such as architectural engineering, web development, computer system analysis, biomedical engineering, sales and teaching. For example, a student who earned a nanotechnology degree concentration can apply skillsets to improve the efficiency of fuel cells and reduce the cost of fuel cell production. Or a graduate who earned a big data analytics degree concentration would have experience working with huge data sets and computing models to predict behavior and trends across a range of fields that include healthcare and the retail sector.

STEM graduates in Florida can solve the state’s challenging problems, collaborate with industry professionals and work on projects that will impact tomorrow’s world.