USA Science and Engineering FestivalWhat can the U.S. do to prepare today's students to take on STEM jobs in the future? To help answer that question, U.S. News and Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has launched the STEM Index to measure just that. It's the first comprehensive index measuring the key factors related to STEM jobs and education.

Read: We’re Not Out of Engineers Yet

The Index finds that although we are making strides in some areas, the U.S. continues to fall short in preparing today's students for tomorrow's innovation workforce. Student aptitude and interest has been mostly flat for more than a decade even as the need for STEM skills continues to grow. The pipeline of talent needed to fill current and future jobs requiring STEM skills is not adequate to meet the demand.

This week, Raytheon joins industry, government and education leaders in our nation's capital to address this workforce challenge head on. Kicking off "STEM Week" is the U.S. News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference, a  three-day event focused on addressing the shortage of STEM skills in the American workforce. On Friday, Raytheon's Chairman William H. Swanson will be inducted into the U.S. News STEM Hall of Fame, recognized for his leadership in advancing STEM education and preparing the next generation of engineers and scientists. Swanson and the other three honorees were chosen from a group of industry, academic and nonprofit leaders.

Closing out the week is the three-day USA Science & Engineering Festival, April 25-27 in Washington, D.C. - the largest and only national festival of its kind. Raytheon will be among 750 STEM-focused organizations to exhibit at the festival. Visitors to the exhibit will get a rare behind-the-scenes look at how Raytheon processes the mountain of data that becomes part of every weather forecast in the country. Called the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, this product plays a critical role in the ability of U.S. forecasters to make weather predictions that can save lives and safeguard property. Visitors will also be guided in building and testing rockets with help from the company's engineers.

Attracting bright students who are pursuing STEM degrees as potential future employees is another important mission for Raytheon. One way the company is doing this is by sponsoring the nation's largest cyber defense competition for undergraduate and graduate students, April 25-27 in San Antonio, Texas. During the Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition students from across the country compete to defend their own "commercial" network against an onslaught of cyber attacks.

Raytheon has hired former NCCDC competitors, and as the need for cyber security solutions continues to increase, there will be more jobs to fill. In the U.S., the Pentagon committed last month to hiring 6,000 new cyber professionals by 2016. At the same time, government and industry are increasing their demand for cyber experts at an annual rate of more than 11 percent in the next few years. A recent Raytheon study shed light on the need to educate today's students about the growing demand for cyber expertise - as 82 percent of high school-aged respondents said they had never heard about cyber security opportunities from their teachers or guidance counselors.