Southeast Partners with Cape Central High School to Promote STEM Opportunities


Southeast Missouri State University’s Economic and Business Engagement Center and the Office of Dual Credit are partnering with Cape Central High School to host SEMO Days, a series of presentations to educate high school student about job opportunities in STEM fields.

SEMO Days includes presentations from Southeast faculty and staff each third Thursday of the month throughout the academic year.

The ongoing partnership is part of an effort to increase the STEM workforce in rural Missouri, an important factor to the overall economy, said Crystal Jones, director of Southeast’s Economic and Business Engagement Center.

“According to a report completed by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, occupations in the STEM fields are expected to increase by approximately 40,000 jobs by 2024, with an average wage well above those of non-STEM opportunities,” she said. “We want to encourage youth to consider these occupations when making their career decisions so that we have a prepared STEM workforce with higher than average wages in southeast Missouri.”

Andy Chronister, agriculture technology coordinator at Southeast’s Economic and Business Engagement Center, demonstrates the various types of UAVs to Cape Central High School students.

The series launched Sept. 21 with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) presentation by Andy Chronister, agriculture technology coordinator at Southeast’s Economic and Business Engagement Center.

“People often think drones are just about flying and having fun, but it’s so much more than that,” Chronister told the Central students.

The students learned about the types of UAVs, the pros and cons of each type, UAV components, as well as real-world uses and Federal Aviation Association regulations for private and commercial flying.

“Today we focused on aerial drones, but there are so many options available. You shouldn’t limit yourself,” Chronister said.

The SEMO Days presentations are an important opportunity for the high school students, said Chris Kase, principal of Cape Central High School.

“It gives them an opportunity to explore careers they may not have otherwise had access to,” he said. “It also allows us to help recruit students into STEM fields that are in high demand.”

Cape Central High School students watch a streamed live-video from a camera recording on a UAV flown by Andy Chronister during the first SEMO Days presentation.

Southeast is prepared to meet the demand for students skilled in next generation technologies with several new innovative academic programs it launched this fall, including in unmanned aircraft systems, Geographic Information Science and industrial and systems engineering.

The University also leads the way with its cybersecurity program. Cybersecurity graduates are in high demand among employers seeking tech-savvy employees who rely on cyber-infrastructure for their operations.

Southeast also offers STEM degree programs in physics and engineering physics and a biomedical scholars program for pre-med majors. For post-graduates, Southeast also now offers the only Master of Natural Science in STEM Education program in Missouri. With it comes new coursework to appeal to teachers of mathematics and polytechnic studies alongside teachers of biology, chemistry, earth science and physics.

SEMO Days will continue in October with a presentation from faculty in Southeast’s Department of Computer Science.