This year in the US alone, there are more than 600,000 unfilled tech jobs. STEM employment grew by 24.4% as compared to 4.0% growth in non-STEM employment over the last decade. So what exactly is “STEM”?
STEM is an acronym for the collective study of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. According to the NSF, STEM courses includes study in the fields of chemistry, computer and information technology science, engineering, geosciences, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physics and astronomy, social sciences (anthropology, economics, psychology and sociology), and STEM education and learning research. Arts, finance, nursing, accounting and business are some examples of Non-STEM courses.
STEM is an interdisciplinary teaching approach used by educators in US schools. It started as a campaign by the US government to get students interested in STEM from an early age. It concentrates on teaching kids these courses in a coherent manner instead of teaching them separately.
Colleges and universities use the NSF definition to segment these courses. The approach still remains the same and requires a lot of interdisciplinary learning. It focuses on problem solving and innovation compared to just learning from text books.
To understand this better, let’s take an interesting real-world example of how different STEM fields work in collaboration.
When Apple engineers started with the idea of an iPhone, they needed scienctists to develop the touch screen technology. The materials that allowed for a conductive or a resistive touch, were developed in laboratories. The touch completes the complicated circuitry. Next, they needed extremely light aluminum body, which is also developed in a metallurgist’s laboratory. Then, the team needed to build a compressed circuitry to keep the phone as compact as possible.
This is where engineers come-in, in design roles. Different types of engineers can help with all these functions including mechanical, industrial, electrical engineers and more. Finally to make the phone work they needed technology, that’s built primarily by computer science/IT/electrical engineers.
Mathematics is the common thread through the process. You need mathematics to calculate the strength of the materials, analysis the composition of it. Also, to find efficient ways to mass produce it and finally to write complex computer codes. Hence STEM as an integrated discipline is very important for the future of the mankind.
As we continue to invent and built newer devices, cars, airplanes and applications (APPs). We need more people who can use these disciplines in sync and in parallel. In today’s fast paced world, one doesn’t have to wait for the scientists to develop something. It’s a pull mechanism, because of the industry’s demand the researchers are heavily funded for most quickest solutions. While the design and technology teams around the world work in parallel to develop the other pieces of the product. Collaboration is the essence of all STEM fields and their progress.
Instead of developing or building things in SILOs, they all work very closely to come up with the best possible solutions to the most intricate problems. That’s how everything around you is built. Like electric cars (Tesla), satellites that make communication channels like GPS possible. Your ever changing smart phones and your smart home devices like “Alexa”. Thanks to the “Interdisciplinary use of STEM fields” we are finally in the “JETSONS” age. The good news is we are just getting started!
STEM NEEDS YOU
According to the Department of labor, in the US the occupations related to STEM are expected to grow up to 9 million between 2012-2022. Grants in STEM fields are also at an all time high, with both federal and state governments taking extreme interest in filling the expected employment gap.
Recently President Trump granted a $200 million support to STEM education for women and minorities. Tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Facebook support similar clubs and grants throughout America. Without a doubt, this is the most glorious time to be in STEM, so get ready to be a part of the most lucrative careers of our times.
There are multiple resources both at K-12 and collegiate level to learn more about STEM course work. To mention a few:
- www. changetheequation.org
- www.lincs.ed.gov (Adult Literacy STEM resource)
Ask your school for more information about STEM opportunities! Write to us if you need to talk to a STEM professional or if you have any questions.
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