Military on the hunt for STEM talent

June 15, 2015
The U.S Military is struggling to attract top-level scientists and engineers to their ranks.

The military needs to keep up with the growing demands for enough science, technology, engineering and math expertise in the armed forces, according to the Air Force's top scientist.

The military should "appeal to scientists and engineers who don't want to just make the cool app, they want to make something of value," Air Force Chief Scientist Mica Endsley told reporters at the Pentagon. "Something that could save lives. Something that could make us stronger as a country."

"STEM education is a challenge for the entire country. While the Air Force has been more successful than other services in recruiting scientists and engineers, the military as a whole needs to appeal to a sense of service and patriotism to recruit the best talent," Endsley said.

According to Endsley, the U.S. has begun to lag as a leader of science and engineering. She noted a 2000 research published in engineering-related publications that said the U.S. led all countries then, but  by 2007, China had caught up. In 2013, China had twice as many publications.

Although these numbers make no mention of the quality of the research, they show a strong commitment to STEM fields overseas.

China has also increased its defense expenditures 10 percent each year, with the number expected to surpass the U.S. in 2020.

"We need more people who really understand science and engineering to keep us moving along the tracks," Endsley said.