Getting down to business with STEM

Business schools are in the conversation about STEM readiness in the U.S. workforce. Michael Goul, associate dean of research at the W. P. Carey School of Business, explains why the business education footprint must expand to include science, technology, engineering, and math. His article on this topic appeared in BizEd magazine.



Experts and policymakers say that a workforce educated in the STEM fields is essential to the innovation and know-how that will build and keep the economy strong. The STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math — have not always been associated with business schools, but that’s no longer the case.

Michael Goul, associate dean of research at the W. P. Carey School of Business, co-authored an article for the special issue of BizEd magazine focused on STEM in business schools. Goul says the companies hiring business students need employees with strong technical skills, and they have made their requirements clear.

Michael Goul: For us, the bottom line is we have an Executive Advisory Board who comes and meets with us and they tell us ‘Here’s what the market demands and you need to produce the students that will fill that market demand,’ and that’s STEM related.

KnowIT: In order to meet industry needs, the Department of Information Systems offers a number of degree programs.

Goul: We have a unique position, in that we have several programs related to STEM. One is our Master in Science and Business Analytics, which was launched only a couple of years ago. It’s proven to be a huge success and recruiters are really paying attention to this degree. We also have a Master of Science and Information Management program that is STEM designated by the Department of Homeland Security, and two undergraduate programs: the Computer Information Systems degree as well as the undergraduate Business Data Analytics degree.

KnowIT: But, those are not the only STEM programs at W. P. Carey.

Goul: There are other programs related (to STEM): actuarial science and some of the supply chain operation management programs are STEM designated, as well. There are a lot more than people are aware of.

KnowIT: As Goul discusses in the BizEd article, the leading business schools are increasingly taking ownership of the need for STEM-educated business professionals.

Goul: You know I think what’s happened is (we’ve become interested in being) able to contribute to the goals and objectives of the state and the Arizona Board of Regents. And realizing that we were designated by the Department of Homeland Security, was a first step. So, when we saw that and noticed it, it took us some work to get through the university to get our programs approved in that regard. And other universities probably haven’t started that process, yet, and that’s one of the reasons that we wrote the article that we did.

KnowIT: Historically, business schools have provided education for technical professionals who needed managerial skills as they advanced in their companies.

Goul: One of the things that we’ve always been aware of is that our MBA programs are tailor-made for people with STEM backgrounds. So, even early on in all of the recruiting that many schools would do, we would be targeting students with mechanical engineering or electrical engineering and other students who wanted to come and get that managerial training to be able to have career advancement.

KnowIT: At W. P. Carey and other schools, however, STEM is being integrated throughout programs, producing students with a sophisticated grasp of the intersection of business and tech.

Goul: Given the complexity of the jobs — the types of things that people are working on — has required STEM designation to be moved into the regular business stream. There’s just many more complexities associated with going into business and working for business these days.

KnowIT: This is a game changer for business people, and not just those working in the information systems department of the company.

Goul: You know, it’s pretty interesting, I was just reading InformationWeek and their brand new article was about the top seven growing STEM fields. And one of them was product management. People would say, ‘Why is product management in there, isn’t that more of a traditional business?’

Well, we’ve got the Internet of Things coming and we’re actually embedding technology into the items and products that we buy. This creates a whole new level of sophistication and expertise that our students will need that is STEM related to be able to communicate with that device and decide what analytics to capture from it. You’re likely to need to use the cloud at some level in that regard. All of these products would likely be facilitating a value added service in the next generation of products. I think it’s very clear that product management, although you wouldn’t expect it, is going to be one of the biggest STEM related fields and that clearly falls within the business school bailiwick.

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