What would you guess SMET is?

Would you like to do SMET?

What if you got caught looking at SMET?

SMET was the first acronym used by the National Science Foundation to stand for “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics”. There was a re-branding of the name that we owe to the American biologist Judith Ramaley. The STEM acronym sounds much better!

Does a cosmetic change matter? Will more students study STEM than SMET? The US government funds initiatives aimed at encouraging students to study STEM fields, so answering this question is important.

Some of these initiatives date back several decades, such as the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advanced Technological Education program, which was started in 1992 to provide funding for two-year colleges to develop programs that promote STEM education and prepare students for technical careers. The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) was established in 2007 and offers training and support for teachers to improve STEM instruction in K-12 schools. In 2009, the White House launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign, which aimed to improve STEM education in American schools and increase the number of students pursuing STEM careers. Additionally, several federal agencies, including NASA and the Department of Energy, have launched initiatives over the years to promote STEM education and provide opportunities for students to engage in STEM-related research and projects. These efforts reflect a recognition of the importance of STEM fields to the country’s future economic competitiveness and national security, and a commitment to ensuring that all students have access to the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in these fields.

There is something to be said for branding and marketing in relation to science education. However, I see this as an open question: How much does branding matter, as opposed to the fundamentals of the pay and quality of available jobs that students can get in STEM fields?

I’m preparing a public lecture on my “Willingness to Be Paid” paper. Using an experiment, I examined what factors affect a student’s decision to do a computer programming job. I tried out an encouraging message which turned out to not work in the sense that it did not increase participation. I’m planning to open my talk with the SMET affair as an example of what is being tried with messaging and the tech labor supply.  

5 thoughts on “SMET

  1. StickerShockTrooper February 18, 2023 / 8:35 pm

    If marketing, branding, messaging, etc. didn’t work, companies wouldn’t be spending billions of dollars on it…. why shouldn’t the “good guys” be doing the same thing?


  2. Andrew B. Raupp February 19, 2023 / 2:12 am

    I have been researching the historic origins of the modern-day STEM Education Movement for over 10 years and Dr. Charles E. Vela (who worked with the National Science Foundation) has presented verifiable evidence dating back to 1992 substantiating his claims that he was the first person to use the term “STEM”. I have yet to find a single document that used the term “SMET”. The Center for the Advancement of Hispanics in Science and Engineering Education (CAHSEE 1992), City College of New York (1992) and University of Massachusetts Amherst STEM Institute (1994) were all formally utilizing the acronym STEM in the early 1990’s. NASA also listed the term “STEM” in a 1994 grant application. There are many published discrepancies regarding the historic timeline often cited. I encourage you to read my article “STEM Education’s Lost Decade And Tenor” (Forbes & Medium). There are links to articles that cover the early origins. If you have information on SMET, I would be very interested, as I have been searching for such resources. Furthermore, I was unable to ask Dr. Vernon James Ehlers about SMET who founded the STEM Congressional Caucus before his passing in August of 2017. Thank you for sharing your insights.


    • Joy February 19, 2023 / 8:02 am

      Thanks for sharing this. I did not know there was any dispute and I will look into the sources.


      • Andrew B. Raupp February 21, 2023 / 1:59 am

        Thanks for your reply. I reference the Britannica source in my article:

        “STEM Education’s Lost Decade and Tenor”

        View at

        One issue is that Britannica makes reference to a 2001 introduction of the acronym STEM. However, there are 10,000+ pages of documents which can be found dating all the way back to the early 1990’s that use the term STEM.

        For instance, this article “STEM: The Hispanic Way to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” published in Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology dated Autumn 1996 clearly mentions STEM education:

        This is in clear contradiction to the initial claim. I shared my contact information if you would like to discuss the origins of STEM education and my research further.

        Regardless, it is beneficial that we are having a discussion about STEM / SMET and economics has been officially designated as a STEM field / career!


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