If you're interested in studying Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics then you better become familiar with the term "STEM." Get it...? It's a term I've been seeing more and more, partially because these fields - which have always been crucial to society - are becoming more and more important to our global community. There are more people on the planet, less resources and emerging economies - oh, and don't forget fun things like smart phones and computers! Because of this, governments and schools are encouraging students to pursue education in these fields. For instance, the Brazilian government started a program Science Without Borders/Ciência sem Fronteiras, where talented Brazilian undergraduate students are given scholarships to study a STEM field for one year in the United States. Not wanting to hinder talented international students in STEM fields, the Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it was expanding the "list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension." That means that international students can extend their OPT program to up 29 months. Just in case you haven't heard of OPT, optional practical training is a special program in which a student can work in their field of study for a professional company which has partnered with their university. The additional benefit to international students is that OPT is a paid position, therefore they are gaining valuable work experience and earning money.
Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation's economic, scientific and technological competitiveness, said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.