Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM, previously SMET) is an acronym that refers to the academic disciplines of science[note 1], technology, engineeringand mathematics. The term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy. Education emphasizing STEM disciplines is considered to be more beneficial to the student than the previous generation of education standards that emphasizes broad “core” disciplines and social skills instead.
The acronym arose in common use shortly after an interagency meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation chaired by the then NSF director Rita Colwell. A director from the Office of Science division of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Dr. Peter Faletra, suggested the change from the older acronym SMET to STEM. Dr. Colwell, expressing some dislike for the older acronym, responded by suggesting NSF to institute the change. One of the first NSF projects to use the acronym was STEMTEC, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Teacher Education Collaborative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which was funded in 1997.