The Transformers

Being considered a “nerd” might not be such a bad a thing anymore. Science and technology are standout growth industries for the U.S., with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 22% increase in the number of such jobs from 2004 to 2014, or more than 2.5 million job openings. Those working in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) earn about 70% more in wages than the national average. And the global marketplace is constantly on the prowl for new innovations to change the way we do any–and everything.

On the cusp of change and with the ability to embrace technological advances as fast as they upload, young professionals in the STEM fields–from agricultural and food scientists to computer software engineers to operations research analysts–excel by doing what they do best. They waste no time identifying, crafting, and developing products or processes that could potentially reinvent tomorrow. Operating under the charge of their organizations, or as independent contractors and consultants, they take calculated risk for the purpose of igniting measurable change.

Sure, education, experience, and skill are key components needed to deliver within their respective organizations or for their clients. But becoming a well-respected change-agent doesn’t occur at any age haphazardly. These rising stars are advancing in tandem with the technology of today, influencing their companies, colleagues, and peers.

It’s no longer news that there aren’t nearly enough young professionals, especially minorities, taking on the challenge to innovate the business landscape. Organizations such as the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Tapping America’s Potential, as well as industry-specific colleges and universities, such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute–among other leaders of academia and government–are independently pushing to increase the annual number of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics bachelor’s-level graduates in the coming years. Realizing the potential that stands to be lost, these activists know the urgency of building our nation’s innovation capacity.

Perhaps the best motivation will come from the recent activity in the STEM fields. Here black enterprise takes a look at a group of BE Next business leaders pursuing standout careers in the technical, scientific, and mathematical fields. The backdrop may be different for each, but the passion remains constant. Collectively encompassing initiative, a fresh outlook, and adaptable intellectual capital, the young achievers we’ll introduce to you are hardwired for success.

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