We welcome this trend in New Jersey and know that higher education will play an important role in honing the skills of our workforce, which is already one of the best-educated labor talent pools in the country. STEM careers are changing the future, from extending and saving lives to revolutionizing business and industry. Integrating STEM with other disciplines encourages creativity, imagination, problem solving and other critical skills needed in the workplace and in life.
I was already aware of an array of cutting-edge STEM initiatives in New Jersey. But it wasn't until my office recently formed the STEM Pathways Network that I learned how many STEM initiatives are already underway in our State. There are more than 200. To prosper as a State, we need to work together to leverage resources for sustainable, systemic impact.
I was very pleased that Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno attended a meeting of our new STEM Pathways Network earlier this month. The Network consists of three dozen of the State's leaders in academia, industry and philanthropy who are all working to build bridges among agencies, foundations, higher education and businesses. The goal is to help connect students with jobs, to make them aware of opportunities that exist, and to coordinate curriculum with the current and future needs of industry.
In addition to the new STEM Pathways Network, New Jersey is showing real commitment to STEM education by building new laboratories and other critical facilities. As Secretary of Higher Education, I celebrated STEM Week in March by visiting new laboratories at Union County's Elizabeth college campus, where more than 1,500 students are declared Nursing majors. I also celebrated the opening of the Health Sciences Nursing Simulation Lab at Essex County College in Newark, where 34 percent of last year's graduating class earned their degrees in STEM fields.
The State is also providing $46 million for a nursing school to be constructed by Rutgers-Camden. The New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, Thomas Edison State College and The College of New Jersey are all building impressive new STEM facilities. A complete list of 176 projects approved for construction can be found here.
As I write today for our 6th e-letter, I know it is being delivered to about 600,000 lawmakers, industry leaders, philanthropists, business and commerce groups -- and college students, faculty, presidents and staff throughout New Jersey. The message I am sending to all is clear: We are committed to improving STEM education. I am grateful to the members of the STEM Pathways Network for volunteering their time to help improve communication and collaboration -- and to help spark new ideas that will keep us moving forward together."
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