Increasing access to STEM education and internship opportunities can help students in rural communities avoid the dreaded 'brain drain' like these students in a science lab doing an experiment.

How the tech community can minimize brain drain in rural communities


Increasing access to STEM education and internship opportunities can help students in rural communities avoid the dreaded 'brain drain'

[Editor’s note: Today’s stories take a two-pronged look at rural brain drain. This story examines the issue from the tech community’s perspective. Look at the issue from an educator’s perspective here.]

As an educator with a background in computer science, I have always been passionate about teaching STEM skills to the next generation, particularly students in rural areas who may not have as much exposure. For the past several years, I have been doing just that for high school students in Alabama, most recently in Lawrence County.

In 2013 our county faced the closing of the paper mill, our largest employer and number one corporate citizen – greatly impacting an area where jobs and career options were already very limited. Since then, I’ve witnessed the proliferation of what many now call the “brain drain”–a problem particularly pervasive in rural areas, referring to how students are forced to look for careers outside of their hometowns due to limited career options in their fields of interest.

Related content: Where will STEM education be in 5 years?

With the increase in STEM careers and promise for students interested in pursuing this path, rural communities without access to these jobs feel the impact of rural brain drain particularly hard.

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