STEM Beats - June 2016

STEMtistic on Display: Scarce in Engineering

June 30, 2016

Although African-Americans comprise 12-13 percent of the U.S. population, they are not represented at that rate as engineering degree holders. While electrical engineering is the closest field to full representation at 6 percent, mechanical engineering trails behind at 3 percent.

Source: Georgetown University, African Americans College Majors & Earnings, 2016.

Tags: STEMtistics, science, engineering

Marine Science Careers in Brooklyn?

June 29, 2016

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy offered a stark reminder that New York City is in fact on the sea. According to a fascinating article in Chalkbeat New York, a group of teachers in Brooklyn aims to turn that fact into an asset for schools. Their efforts reveal important insights about the need to give young people pathways to STEM careers.

New York City has more than 560 miles of coastline and offers tens of thousands of jobs related to the sea, one teacher notes, but few students have a clear path to those jobs. Some thirty schools have come together to define a “marine science pipeline that helps guide a student all the way from the first day of elementary school through college or into a career.” Along the way, students can pick up experience in areas as diverse as underwater robotics, biology, and coding.

It’s too early to tell whether the initiative will succeed, but the story offers some lessons worth remembering. Among them:

  • In many communities, there are viable STEM career opportunities hiding in plain sight;
  • Narrow career and technical education programs, like marine science, can teach broad skills, like engineering and computer science, that people can take to the bank no matter what careers they pursue;
  • Every student needs a continuous ladder of STEM opportunities from the earliest grades to careers.

The final lesson is especially important to those of us who promote proven STEM education programs, both in and out of school. If a child is lucky enough to take part in an inspiring STEM program while she is in elementary school, for example, she might find little to inspire her while she is in middle or high school. The effects of that inspiring early experience will probably wear off over time. 

Small STEM oases will have little impact if they are surrounded by a vast STEM desert. The New York City teachers in the Chalkbeat story have the right idea. 

Tags: science, jobs & workforce

Top 10: STEM Job Approved Employers 2016

June 28, 2016

Congratulations to BP, the best STEM Job in 2015-2016In the STEM community, discourse around teachers preparing a diverse range of students for STEM careers occurs often. But what role do the companies play in developing and receiving the students who are eager to orchestrate the next rocket launch? STEM Jobs Approved (SJA) performs a yearly study across multiple industries to discover the corporations most worth aspiring to. And we're pretty proud to congratulate our member companies who made the cut!

When it comes to contributing to diversity in STEM fields, fostering partnerships between classrooms and careers, aiding STEM career development, and ensuring opportunities for STEM students, 10 CTEq member companies rank amongst STEM Jobs Magazine's elite employers. Read further to find out their specialties and which career fields match best with their opportunities.

(1) BP - Ranking: #1 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: geologists, drilling engineers, and procurement supply chain managers

Coming in as this year's best possible place to work, BP dominates in diversity, career focus, STEM opportunity, and partnerships. Highlights include employing more than 16,000 people across the country and enabling another 170,000 additional jobs.

(2) Verizon - Ranking: #13 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: computer scientists

With a workforce of 177,300 worldwide and a balanced emphasis on diversity, career focus, STEM opportunity, and partnerships, it's no real surprise that this technology and telecom giant makes it into the top 20. The best career opportunities exist here for savvy computer scientist.

(3) Lockheed Martin - Ranking: #28 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: n/a*

A leader in the defense industry, Lockheed Martin gets good grades in career focus, STEM opportunity, and partnerships. That means that no one knows student development quite like Lockheed. Just like Lockheed engineers STEM career pipelines by nurturing STEM learning at the K-12 level, it brings that same commitment to its employees once they get there. Lockheed puts time and money into training and development that enables employees to blaze long-lasting career paths.

(4) Northrop Grumman Corporation - Ranking: #37 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: n/a*

As a leading employer in the defense industry, Northrop Grumman knows how to develop employees into industry leaders. Students that end up here can count on a distinguished career in STEM. Northrup Grumman makes the top 50 list because of the well-established career pathways. 

(5) Booz Allen Hamilton - Ranking: #40 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: computer scientists

Are you a budding computer scientist looking for diversity? Then Booz Allen Hamilton might be worth looking into. This company knows the importance of diversity, STEM opportunity, and partnerships. Booz Allen Hamilton places 9th in its industry, diversified services, because of its leadership when it comes to creating STEM career pipelines and access for underrepresented groups.

(6) IBM - Ranking: #50 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: mathematicians

Diversity has long been a focus for IT company IBM. That focus pays off since IBM's ability to add to the diversity in STEM fields earns it a spot on this list. IBM also excels at advancing learning opportunities for STEM students through effective programs.

(7) HP Enterprise - Ranking: #64 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: human resources professionals

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has an expert human resources team that creates relationships with high schools to strengthen pipelines for STEM careers. These types of partnerships empower teachers to prepare career-ready graduates in STEM.

(8) EMC - Ranking: #75 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: computer scientists

This world leader in cloud computing ranks among the top 100 STEM employers for its track record attracting the best and  brightest in computer science.

(9) Deloitte - Ranking: #92 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: economists, accountants

Deloitte makes SJA's list of employer elites because of its outstanding work providing internships or partnerships in the community that allow students to experience STEM careers first-hand.  Enabling those kinds of up close and personal career experiences can make the difference for students from underrepresented groups with limited exposure.

(10) State Farm - Ranking: #128 (of 139)

Suggested for aspiring: communications specialists, managers, marketing professionals

State Farm and its league of 65,000 employees is an expert at recruitment techniques that reach students otherwise ignored, earning it a spot on the elite list. This Fortune 500 company is dedicated to making sure all students have the STEM skills they need at the K-12 level. State Farm knows that in order to have the best and brightest to choose from for employment, it has to do its part to develop the talent pool.

*N/A indicates that did not provide any data regarding the suggested careers at that company.

Tags: jobs & workforce

At Texas Instruments, Equal Access Supports Makers and Innovators

June 23, 2016

National Week of Making is coming to a close, with maker events in communities nationwide, but not without recognizing the contributions that many Change the Equation companies have made to hands-on, STEM-intensive learning opportunities that have helped to ignite the maker movement.

 “Texas Instruments has a remarkable history of empowering tinkerers, designers, inventors and innovators—long before there was a maker movement. TI traces its support of makers all the way back to 1978, when its first Speak and Spell product introduced kids to electronics and technology. Originally an educational game, makers today use this hand-held device to create vocals for songs and sound effects. “This has really been a part of TI’s DNA for a very long time,” says Adrian Fernandez, TI’s microcontroller development experience manager.” 

Fast forward a few decades. TI now puts affordable, professional-grade maker technology, plus free websites, tutorials and lessons, into the hands of young people and teachers. “We enable TI engineers and our customers to build the latest technology, the next big thing,” Fernandez says. “In parallel with that, we are working on lowering the barrier of entry to innovate” for novice makers as well.

Maker experiences thus fit well within TI’s $150 million 5-year investment in education, with a focus on improving student interest and skills, especially among students who are underrepresented in STEM. Maker activities also inspire employee volunteers. Last year, TI employees logged about 130,000 volunteer hours—a 40 percent increase over previous years. Most of those hours were STEM-related community service, including in-school and out-of-school maker programs, such as TI-sponsored FIRST, VEX and BEST robotics competitions.

Maker experiences build skills that students need and companies value. “At TI, we love the word ‘why,’” says Dr. Peter Balyta, president of TI Education Technology. “We want students to never stop asking ‘why’ or ‘how’ or ‘how does this work?’” Inventing, designing and building fire imaginations, spark curiosity, support teamwork and collaboration, and help develop a strong STEM foundation, which students need to advance in the classroom and in STEM fields or any career path.

“The maker movement, really the whole STEM movement, has heated up over the past year or two,” Dr. Balyta says. “I think there is now recognition across all levels of education, whether elementary, middle or high schools and even universities, on the importance of hands-on learning. Everyone’s trying to do something around making and around STEM. We want to fuel those conversations. In the end, we all win. A stronger community makes for stronger economies. It’s critical for the future of our country for our kids to be successful in STEM.”

 The maker movement is great for business as well. “A big reason we love the maker community is the growth of new companies,” Fernandez adds. “There’s a kind of romanticism around the maker movement lately, with shows like Shark Tank and Silicon Valley. The awareness of being able to start something new is growing.” That’s great news for companies like TI. New products and innovations create opportunities to empower and partner with innovators and inventors of products people don’t even know they want yet.

Good for young people, good for communities and good for business. What’s not to like about the maker movement?


Tags: science, technology, engineering, math

Guest Blog: For Cognizant, Every Week Is National Week of Making

June 20, 2016

Calling all dreamers and designers, builders and creators! June 17–23 is National Week of Making, and maker enthusiasts all over the country are planning make-a-thons, maker spaces, clinics, workshops and more in their communities. 

Cognizant is among the Change the Equation companies with a strong track record of supporting maker programs and activities to improve STEM learning. Five years ago, Cognizant launched Making the Future, an initiative to expand and enhance access to STEM education opportunities. When the White House hosted the first-ever Maker Faire and announced its Nation of Makers initiative in 2014, Cognizant made a major commitment to triple its maker efforts and provide 1.5 million hours of maker education programs serving 25,000 children in 200 communities by 2017.

Cognizant is especially focused on providing access to young people who might not otherwise have opportunities to learn by doing and making. “Typically, 96 percent to 98 percent of program grants are for young people who are currently underrepresented in STEM education. Our goal is to help drive interest and passion for STEM subjects across socio-economic barriers and stereotypical gender divides,” says Kathryn Nash, associate director of educational affairs with Cognizant.”

Making engages kids and equips them with skills they need to thrive in virtually every career pursuit. Nash says, “We’re looking for creative problem solving, collaboration, learning how to ask the right questions, learning how to learn, being curious about things, troubleshooting. With making, by asking questions and making with other kids, they’re learning to communicate and collaborate. They’re allowed to take risks. Building these types of essential skills now helps prepare young people for the successful careers ahead, whether in STEM or other fields.”

Maker Faires exemplify what Nash calls the “circle of learning” in making—learning by making, learning by experiencing a Maker Faire, and learning by teaching others how to make something. Cognizant supports maker organizations that give young people the opportunity to go to a Maker Faire. For some, it’s the first time they’ve ever traveled beyond their neighborhoods. “It’s really life transforming to be at one of the flagship Maker Faires in California, which had 150,000 people a couple of weeks ago, or New York, where we’re expecting 100,000 in October,” Nash said.

Now, the company is pushing the frontiers of the maker movement even further. This summer, Cognizant is partnering with New York Hall of Science to pilot a Maker Therapy program at Children’s Hospital of Colorado—a commitment recognized in White House communications this week in conjunction with National Maker Faire.

The White House has proclaimed this week as the National Week of Making.

Along with Cognizant several other companies and organizations have announced their 2016 commitments to Making.  If you are interested in participating in a Making event in your community this week, you can find a listing here

Tags: guest blog