EDUCATION

Stevens Institute President: Science and Technology Skills Give College Grads Advantage

The White House projects that — come graduation — more than 1.2 million people in New Jersey will owe a collective $30 billion in federal student loans. It’s unveiled a Student Aid Bill of Rights saying every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education at a college that’s cutting costs and increasing learning. The Department of Education reports New Jersey’s public four year colleges are among the most expensive in the country. A National Association of Colleges and Employers survey shows students with engineering and computer science degrees earn top starting salaries and out-produce their counterparts in economic growth. And when it comes to return on investment in a college education, a company that tracks employee compensation, Payscale, ranks Stevens Institute of Technology in the top five. Stevens Institute of Technology President Nariman Farvardin told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that fields within computer science and engineering are generating significant salaries.

“If you want to look the short term, the future, computer science and engineering disciplines are the most attractive. They’re generating significant starting salaries,” said Farvardin. “But as you probably know science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors as a field, they constitute only a small portion of our workforce — about 5 percent — but they have been responsible for a significant part of economic growth.”

Farvardin said that anything that is STEM related — technology, engineering, computer science — or in the music and social sciences are likely to have a significant advantage. He said he includes music and social sciences because the workforce has a diverse set of needs. He also said that a bit of technology adds to the marketability of college graduates.

As for student preparedness for the workforce, Farvardin said that employers look for solid grounding in disciplinary fields. He said that employers are also interested in graduates who have strong communication skills, as well as analytical skills and problem solving capabilities. Farvardin also includes the ability to work in a diverse team with interdisciplinary interests and expertise.

When asked if colleges that are not providing education in these areas for students are not doing their job, Farvardin said, “In my opinion, yes, because if this is what the workforce needs we have a responsibility to respond.”

Farvardin said that it is difficult to say what programs students should consider to position themselves for a good job because programs change over time. He also said that solid grounding in engineering and sciences paves the way for a successful career along with good communication skills and the ability to work in a team environment.