The increased need for engineers has sharpened the focus on how South Carolina teaches math.
Clemson assistant engineering and science education professor Eliza Gallagher told South Carolina Radio Network that students who want to get an engineering degree need to enter college with a math background in calculus from high school. “We know right away it has a huge impact on how many of those students actually finish the degree,” said Gallagher. But South Carolina high schools struggle with math.
Gallagher is part of a research team that is gathering data that could help create new ways of teaching math, not only in South Carolina but across the country.
Gallagher said it is critical for students in high school who want to enter an engineering degree program to have the proper level of math before entering college. “If students start in calculus or higher, they’re much more likely, they’re twice as likely to finish the engineering degree as if they start placed below calculus,” Gallagher said.
The study comes as advanced manufacturing’s growth in the state drives up demand for engineers and others with engineering backgrounds. Before the study began, Gallagher said the researchers knew South Carolina has five metro areas either completely or partially in the state are rated among the nation’s top 100 metro areas for science, technology engineering and math (STEM) workers.