American Society for Engineering Education Promotes STEM Education to Trump Transition Team

TEM experiences help students develop critical-thinking skills, encourage innovative thinking, and foster perseverance.

Story Source: American Society for Engineering Education
photo credit: Lab Science Career In the Laboratory via photopin (license)

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) joined eight organizations in sending a letter to the Trump transition team to highlight the importance of investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

“A quality STEM education is important for the continued prosperity and safety of the United States,” said ASEE Executive Director Norman Fortenberry. “With this letter, ASEE and our peer organizations strongly encourage the Trump administration – and Congress – to continue the momentum that STEM education has gained in the last several years, from funding sources to initiatives and legislation.”

The letter can be read in its entirety below.

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In this era of global competitiveness, it is clear that America’s 21st-century workforce students in classrooms today—will be critical to ensuring that the United States remains a world leader in the years ahead. It is similarly clear that the pervasiveness of technology in our society demands that our students receive a sound education in Computer Science, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM including Computer Science) knowledge and skills.

The nation’s STEM educators are working diligently to prepare this future workforce and the next generation of scientists, engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs critical for future economic growth and prosperity.

Our organizations—National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA),American Chemical Society (ACS), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) and the STEM Education Coalition —representeducators who provide instruction to every student in this country. We therefore believe the federal
government has a responsibility to ensure the following:

● Equitable access to high-quality STEM learning experiences for all students and their
communities;
● The promotion of STEM literacy and competencies for all students;
● Funding for innovation and technologies to implement STEM initiatives;
● Quality leadership and support for STEM in-service teachers and preservice providers (through discipline-specific and integrated STEM programs) that promote innovation and superlative STEM teaching and learning that includes integrated changes in research-based curriculum, technology, teacher professional development, and assessment, as well as strong school leadership;
● School- and state-defined strategies for achieving scale for STEM learning, and STEM school experiences that foster long-term sustainability; and
● Engagement in STEM education by multiple stakeholders from the business, professional, unformal, research, and education communities and from elected officials—all of which are vital to the success of STEM schools.

To achieve these goals, the new Administration must propose—and strongly encourage Congress to provide—the highest possible funding for the STEM-related programs outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act. These programs are primarily in Title II (Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals) and Title IV-A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants), which will provide funds for STEM instruction and supports to high-need students in targeted districts and schools.

We also call upon the new Administration to consider these suggestions during the presidential transition:

1. Appoint a high-profile STEM education coordinator at the White House Domestic Policy Council whose role will be to drive a K–12 STEM agenda across the federal government among the mission federal agencies, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Education, and to work with state stakeholders.

2. Ensure that the President’s Science Advisor (who is also the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy) has a demonstrated public record of commitment to STEM education. We also strongly suggest the creation of a senior-level position in OSTP that deals specifically with K–12 STEM education.

3. Appoint leading STEM educators to a wider range of federal advisory bodies, such as the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Science Board, and to other senior federal agency policymaking positions.

4. Direct the Secretary of Education to implement the STEM Master Teacher Corps to enhance teacher leadership and service to the nation, as authorized in Section 2245 of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

5. Sustain and increase investments in STEM education programs at the mission agencies and STEM-related educational research and innovation at the NSF, and direct NSF to pilot implementation strategies resulting from that research.

6. Direct the Secretary of Education to publish an annual report assessing the degree to which states are using the new authorities provided under the Every Student Succeeds Act to support and prioritize STEM education activities and student success.

7. Publish an online guide of federal resources available to support STEM education that highlights research on best practices in teaching and learning and areas such as STEM competitions, informal learning, and ways to increase the participation of women and minorities in STEM learning.

While the creativity that drives STEM literacy, scientific discovery, engineering design, technological problem solving, and innovation starts at home, it is nurtured in the K–12 STEM classroom. STEM experiences help students develop critical-thinking skills, encourage innovative thinking, and foster perseverance. All stakeholders—including the federal government—must work together to nurture and support the teachers on the frontlines of Computer Science, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and ensure they receive what they need to succeed in the classroom and provide our children with a world-class education.

Self-Healing Concrete May Not Just Be For Sci-Fi

Henk-Jonkers

Professor Henk Jonkers at work. Photo Source: Newscientist.nl

“The problem with cracks in concrete is leakage. If you have cracks, water comes through — in your basements, in a parking garage. Secondly, if this water gets to the steel reinforcements — in concrete we have all these steel rebars — if they corrode, the structure collapses.” – Professor Henk Jonkers, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.

Concrete repair products is a subject we know a lot about!  We’ve seen first hand the problems that slow-building cracks can create. But what if damaged concrete could heal itself? That’s exactly what Professor Henk Jonkers is working towards with his work into bioconcrete — concrete that heals itself using bacteria.

Jonkers was inspired by the human body in his work, which works by adding a limestone-producing bacteria agent to the concrete mix. As air is let in through cracks and damage to the concrete, the bacteria is activated and begins producing limestone and patching out the cracks.”You need bacteria that can survive the harsh environment of concrete. It’s a rock-like, stone-like material, very dry,” says Professor Jonkers.

This process could play a pivotal role during construction, when small imperceptible cracks form as concrete is laid. By self-patching immediately, this bioconcrete could prevent long term damage. You can see some of the self-healing concrete at work below.

To date, bioconcrete has only been able to heal cracks up to a very slim 0.8 mm wide in about three weeks, but it can also be sprayed in cracks of regular concrete to use its mending powers. It will certainly be interesting to hear what the future holds for bioconcrete, and if its European Inventor Award finalist nomination is any indication, we’ll be hearing much more soon!

It’s this ingenuity and forward-thinking approach to finding new unexplored solutions to potentially long-term and expensive problems why we have named Professor Henk Jonkers our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We look forward to hearing more of his work in bioconcrete in the future!

Note: Henk Jonkers does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

CNN 

TUDelft

XPrize

Civil Engineers- The Unsung Heroes of Modern Society

“So why is it that although world has some famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van de Rohe, Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid just to name a few, (it) doesn’t have famous traffic engineers?”

Notable Civil Engineers Highway EngineersBrooklyn Bridge In the spirit of innovation, we have started featuring star innovators on our blog each month- people who embody the ideals of innovation in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. This month, our intention was to feature a prominent Civil Engineer who has made an impact in our daily lives and in public places. What we found is there are countless people who have contributed to the field of civil engineering and deserve accolades, but rarely hear of them.

Though the field of civil engineering has been around for centuries, we know very little about the people who have paved the way (literally in some cases) for us to enjoy the many amenities our modern society has to offer- clean water, railroads, roads, sidewalks, buildings, sewage systems, dams, bridges or airports and so much more.

An Australian Transportation blogger writes in this post,

“So why is it that although world has some famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van de Rohe, Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid just to name a few, doesn’t have famous traffic engineers? Why do we have famous economists like Adam Smith, Karl Marx. John Keynes or Milton Friedman and we don’t know of any transport planners? And if for doctors it is quite reasonable to know so many because of all these diseases named after them why is it that we don’t know who designed the first tram system? Or the inventor of Bus Rapid Transit? Why the bridges aren’t named after their designer?”

It’s hard to imagine our lives without civil engineers.  These unsung heroes are responsible for the design and maintenance of both the small and enormous infrastructure projects all over the world.

Here is our list of notable engineers we’d like to highlight (not listed in any particular order) that are considered by many to be leaders in the field of civil engineering and transportation planning. Who would you add to this list? 

Emily Warren Roebling (1843 –1903)

Known as the “first woman field engineer” and saw out the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.

John Smeaton – (1724 – 1792)

First self proclaimed civil engineer. He is often called the Father of Civil Engineering. His work on waterwheels and windmills contributed to the efficiency of the industrial revolution.

Archie Alphonso Alexander (1888 – 1958)

Prominent transportation engineer recognized for his work on bridges, buildings and utilities. First African American to graduate from the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering.

Benjamin Wright – (1770 – 1842)

The American Society of Civil Engineers declared Benjamin Wright the Father of American Civil Engineering. He was the Chief Engineer during the construction of the Erie Canal and many more notable infrastructure products in the United States.

William Hunter Dammond (1873-1956)

Invented the rail road switching mechanism which enabled trains to change direction. He is also the First African American Graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a Degree in Civil Engineering.

Squire Whipple – (1804 – 1888)

Designed and built a weigh lock scale to weigh canal boats on the Erie Canal. He also designed and built seven short span iron bridges for the New York and Erie Railroad near Newburgh and Binghamton, New York. Whipple also built the first long span trapezoidal railroad bridges for the New York Railroads.

Elsie Eaves- (1898 – 1983)

The first female associate member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a founding member of the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International; the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering)

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859)

Designed tunnels, railway lines, ships and bridges. He is most famous for the network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts he designed for the Great Western Railway. His design methods are still used today in high-speed trains.

Walter Taylor (1872–1955)

Australian visionary and builder of many Brisbane landmarks. His most notable works are the Walter Taylor Bridge and the Graceville Methodist church, both of which are heritage-listed buildings.

Dr. John “Job” Crew Bradfield- (1867-1943)

Prominent Australian engineer who designed and oversaw the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He was also appointed Chief Engineer for the metropolitan railway construction in New South Wales.

Olive Dennis- (1885-1957)

The second woman to obtain a Civil Engineering degree from Cornell. She was hired that year as a draftsman by the B & O Railroad to design bridges, eventually changed the nature of railway travel.

Duff A. Abrams- (1880 – 1965)

A researcher in the area of organization and properties of concrete, he was responsible for coming up with the necessary methods for testing concrete characteristics that we still use. President of the American Concrete Association for a year, he discovered the concept of fineness modulus and the definition of water-cement ratio.

Charles Duke

a structural engineer and architect, made distinguished contributions to the development of churches and railroads. irst African American to earn a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1913.

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney- (1883 – 1971)

Famous American civil engineer and architect, the first woman to earn a degree in any type of engineering in the United States; her degree was in civil engineering. In the same year, she was accepted as a junior member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Henry Randall Grooms (1944-n/a)

Served on the DC Highway Department as a highway engineer and on the engineering team at Rockwell International where he was awarded Engineer of the Year Award the company’s space division in 1980.

Othmar Hermann Ammann- (1879 – 1965)

A Swiss-born American structural engineer, he designed the Bayonne Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the famous George Washington Bridge. He also designed more than half of the 11 bridges that attach New York City to the rest of the country. As well as his work on bridges, he planned the construction and directed the building of the Lincoln Tunnel.

We urge to continue to learn about these famous civil engineers and what their inventions have brought to the world by visiting the following resources-
www.facebook.com/notes/structural-engineering-forum-of-india
science.howstuffworks.com/engineering
www.wikiengineer.com/Transportation
www.thefamouspeople.com/civil-engineers
www.i-studentglobal.com/civil-engineering
mobilitymanagementaustralia.blogspot.com.au

photo credit: kumiyama00 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Highway via photopin (license)
photo credit: New York City – Brooklyn Bridge via photopin (license)

Why We Need More Women in STEM Careers

Women In STEM

Source: “Mentors Help Create A Sustainable Pipeline For Women In STEM” – Forbes.com

“One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.” – President Barack Obama

In last month’s blog spotlight on STEM Education Coalition, we shared some ideas about the effect STEM education will have on the future of our nation’s workforce and economy. WVCO is comprised of numerous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics innovators and we value the growth of STEM education and training in this country and around the world.

It is widely believed an increase of skilled workers are needed in the STEM fields for our economy to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Yet, for some reason, women and other minority groups are underrepresnted in these fields.

An Executive Summary by the Economics and Statistics Administration states that:

• Nearly half of the US workforce are women, yet they’ve held less than 25% of STEM jobs consistently over the last decade.

• Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs.

• Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in
Engineering.

• Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM
occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.

Source: Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation

“Supporting women STEM students and researchers is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world; it is also important to women themselves,” states the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “And STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation”.

Science and Engineering fields are in need strong innovators regardless of gender, background and nationality. However, there is little doubt that attracting more women and girls — as well as other underrepresented groups into STEM programs will help to make our workforce even stronger and more prepared for the future.

STEM Education Coalition is Working Towards a Better Future

STEM Education

“Effective policies and practices that improve student performance in STEM subjects, increase diversity in these fields, and ensure a well-educated STEM workforce are critical to our nation’s future.” -STEM Education Coalition

You have probably noticed the conversation about STEM, the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is growing in this country. As a company that innovates and is continually producing custom solutions, we understand the value of a strong education in the STEM fields.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says employment in occupations related to STEM is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels. – Source: stemedcoalition.org

Many feel that a deeper emphasis on STEM education is necessary for our country to continue to remain an economic and technological leader of the global marketplace. To do that, we must inspire our students to excel the areas of science, mathematics, technology and engineering while maintaining a deep appreciation of the arts and humanities.

Renowned physicist Dr. James Gates echoed the need for a better STEM foundation in a recent speech to a group of high school students in Arkansas. “There are half a million jobs that can’t find Americans to hire because they don’t have the skills level,” he says according to this in this article.”These are the jobs you most want to have in the future.”

Organizations like The STEM Education Coalition, a 501c4 non-profit organization, are working to raise awareness with federal and state policymakers along with members of education community about the critical role that STEM education plays in the future of our global economy.  “The future of the economy is in STEM,” says James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C. “That’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.”

Some would argue that focusing only on a STEM education could possibly open the door to neglecting the arts and humanities, however this is not the goal of the STEM Education Coalition. “We always want to make the point that a policy focus on ‘STEM’ isn’t really just about four rigid subjects, it’s about ensuring that students have the skills they need to succeed in the modern world,” it states on their website. “Arts and humanities are certainly a part of that equation.”

To learn more about STEM Education Coalition and how to join, visit stemedcoalition.org.

photo credit: Teen scientist Alexa Dantzler in the lab via photopin (license)