Fif­teen of the 20 fastest growing pro­fes­sions in 2014 will require a strong under­standing of sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering or math (STEM), according to the U.S. Depart­ment of Labor. But col­lege stu­dents in the United States are grad­u­ating with degrees in these fields at an alarm­ingly low rate.

Two North­eastern Uni­ver­sity math­e­matics pro­fes­sors are com­mitted to doing their part to solve the problem, which is ham­pering the country’s ability to com­pete in an increas­ingly global economy.

Pro­fes­sors Bob Case and Don King have received a National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion (NSF) grant of $600,000 over five years to help more than a dozen women and under-​​represented minori­ties in the Boston Public Schools earn degrees at North­eastern in fields such as math, biology and physics. The grant will focus on minori­ties and women, though any stu­dent with a heavy finan­cial need is eligible.

The grant will sup­port 14 Math and Sci­ence Talent (MST) Scholars:  12 under­grad­u­ates and two grad­uate stu­dents. Each under­grad­uate will receive $40,000 toward a bachelor’s degree, and each grad­uate stu­dent will receive $20,000 toward a master’s or doc­torate degree.

These are some of the best stu­dents in the Boston Public Schools, and they are attracted to many insti­tu­tions,” King said. “The grants we have secured will make North­eastern an attrac­tive choice.”

This NSF grant is the latest step in an ongoing effort by Northeastern’s Depart­ment of Math­e­matics to encourage stu­dents to choose careers in sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and math.

In the last 10 years, for example, Case and King have worked closely with stu­dents and teachers 11 Boston public high schools, including the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Sci­ence, to set up a year-​​round pro­gram called the Bridge to Calculus.

At the heart of all the pro­grams is the goal of bol­stering stu­dents’ con­fi­dence, expe­ri­ence and interest in STEM edu­ca­tion and careers. As King put it, “We hope to have an impact on their aspirations.”

All grant win­ners will be required to par­tic­i­pate in PRISM, an ini­tia­tive that con­nects North­eastern math­e­mati­cians, physi­cists and biol­o­gists with first– and second-​​year stu­dents who want to learn more about research-​​related co-​​ops and intern­ships in math and sci­ence fields.

Case and King hope the focus on STEM edu­ca­tion will lead to an increase in the number of grad­u­ates pur­suing careers in math and sci­ence. “STEM pro­fes­sionals are con­tributing the ideas and the inven­tions that lead to our eco­nomic growth,” King said. “More sci­en­tific and engi­neering activity will lead to more employ­ment and main­tain the United States as an eco­nomic leader in the world.”