Why STEM Matters: Brian Kelly Interviews ASME
1. Why does STEM matter to your organization? STEM education is important to the future of the engineering workforce, many of whom will discover new, emerging and evolving technologies. With shifting U.S. demographics in the coming years, the engineering community needs to do a better job of attracting and retaining more women and underrepresented minorities into the profession. ASME believes in the critical importance of K-12 STEM teaching as a result: if teachers can succeed, a diverse and competent group of students will allow the profession to thrive, and society as a whole will benefit.
2. What is your organization doing about it? ASME is very active in the STEM education arena. First, we focus our outreach activities on teachers, aiming to systemically affect their teaching and help them overcome their lack of comfort and familiarity with hands-on engineering design-and-build activities to learn how powerful those can be for STEM subject learning. ASME is also working to improve the undergraduate engineering curriculum by encouraging departments to put more hands-on activities in the first two years, which could help retain more students in engineering. ASME is also the engineering co-chair of the STEM Education Coalition, an active coalition of over 500 business, university, and non-profit organizations that work to improve STEM education policy in the U.S. Finally, ASME uses its public awareness activities to help promote the engineering profession through activities such as Engineers Week.
3. Has your organization been successful at reaching its STEM goals? (Please feel free to point to specific programs.) ASME has been successful in reaching its STEM goals, especially in the area of public policy. ASME has helped show the importance of the “E” in STEM on Capitol Hill and with the Administration, including how engineering can be used to provide students with a practical example. By this advocacy, engineering was included as a key concept in the new National Academies’ science framework.
4. If you could have three wishes granted by the STEM genie, what would they be?
(1) All science teachers in K-12 informed about engineering concepts, able to do hands-on design-and-build projects with their students and to connect those experiences to math and science concepts, with the special elements of engineering design – constraints, multiple solutions, the importance of iteration and learning from failure – included. 2) In school and out of school, more groups and individuals using the National Academies’ Changing the Conversation messaging, which has been shown to attract more women and underrepresented minorities to engineering; and (3) As a result, a greater number and diversity of students at all levels aware of engineering as a flexible and satisfying career choice, exposed to experiences that can excite them about STEM futures, and more competent in their STEM skills so that whatever they do contributes to a more technologically literate society.
5. Beyond your organization, what one thing should be done now to help solve the STEM crisis? Better math preparation for all K-12 students, so that fewer are stopped by weakness in key competency areas from pursuing all avenues of STEM careers and study without remediation.
Co-chair Highlight: American Society of Mechanical Engineers
“STEM Solutions 2012 recognizes the need to find innovative and lasting solutions to the STEM crisis in this nation,” said Victoria A. Rockwell, president of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers). “ASME is eager to commit to this collaborative effort.” ASME sponsors a range of programs in STEM education, including programs focused on innovative ways to bring engineering concepts into the K-12 teaching curricula.
Thank you, ASME, for your support in the Summit.