Sat. 10:19 p.m.: STEM called the future, but Valley lags in related jobs

COMING SUNDAY: Jada Cosby wasn’t thinking about all of the resources that have gone into building local STEM programs – or what local job prospects she might have if she continues pursuing her love of science, technology, engineering and math.

This week, the 11-year-old Youngstown girl poured all her focus into perfecting the design she created last week and making it a 3D printing reality.

“I like that you can design something, plan it out and then make it real by printing it,” the student from Lewis School in Youngstown said.

Jada was among a group of girls who participated in a 3D printing STEM summer camp at the Lewis School – a specialty program of Valley Christian Schools for gifted learners in grades 3 to 8.

Ashley Martof, camp facilitator, said the weeklong program was part of an ongoing effort to give area youth learning opportunities they’ll need in their STEM job-related pursuits.

“STEM opportunities can open up a whole world for a student,” she said. “It’s valuable. It’s the present, but it’s also the future.”

But what remains unclear is whether the local job market will keep pace with national trends.

Earlier this year, social media / research company Wallet Hub analyzed the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. across 11 key metrics including job openings per capita for STEM graduates, annual median wage growth for STEM jobs and the projected number of STEM jobs needed in 2018.

The regional area that includes Warren, Youngstown and Boardman ranked No. 71 for 2015’s Best and Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals.

Martof of Mineral Ridge said she’s not surprised by the findings. “I know people who have graduated then moved out of the area for jobs. That’s the way it’s been for some people at this point. But I also realize it’s changing. I can see more and more businesses evolving into areas of production or even manufacturing that will rely on STEM-related training and education.

Read more in the Sunday Tribune Chronicle.