As an engineer and educator, I believe that we have not done a good job of educating our youth in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM fields. These skills are vital to create a foundation for our future workforce.
So this week, I was happy to be invited to be a panelist at the California STEM Summit on our campus. Educators and business and government leaders gathered here to share ideas on how we can better educate our youth in STEM fields. The lively discussion focused on the importance of STEM education, particularly for K-12 students. I was pleased to be joined by fellow panelists Roberta Gotfried, director of technology, Raytheon; Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges; and Leroy Trippett, corporate external affairs manager, Intel Corp.
Roberta told of the auto mechanics that we know today and how, with the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles, their jobs will require STEM skills in the future. We must strive to teach our youth early – even before they enter school. Exposure to engineering, for example, can be as simple as a parent showing their child how to make a kite. This process is fun, and in turn, the child is learning valuable skills that can later translate into him or her becoming an aerospace engineer.
Budgetary constraints that often hinder teaching STEM was also something that came up and, quite frankly, some of the most enjoyable engineering projects do not require a lot of money. I share the view of many of the panelists that we need to effectively train teachers to engage students in interactive learning that is fun and incorporates science, math and engineering to better prepare our future innovators to improve quality of life.
I invite you to see more of the panel discussion – “STEM Education is Job One” – and share your thoughts.