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)

Spotlight on Robotics Engineer Rodney Brooks

Rodney Brooks

Photo source csail.mit.edu

As a company that strives to explore new ideas, devices and processes, we admire individuals who exemplify the spirit of innovation. This month our featured innovator is Australian Robotics Engineer, author, entrepreneur and MIT Professor, Rodney Brooks.

His TED Speaker bio describes him as one who “studies and engineers robot intelligence, looking for the holy grail of robotics: the AGI, or artificial general intelligence”.

In this famous TED Talk from 2013, Professor Brooks presents the idea that robots can play an essential role in our future as the number of working-age adults drops and the number of retirees increases. Rather than viewing robots as a replacement for people on the job, perhaps we should see them as helpful collaborators, freeing us up to spend time on less mundane and mechanical challenges. Watch below.

Perhaps he is best known for popularizing the actionist approach to robotics, the belief that actions or behaviors are a more appropriate standard in robotics. This approach focuses on robots that possess an ability to to exhibit complex behaviors by gradually correcting its actions via sensory-motor links- in other words- a robot who can figure things out.

He is changing the field of robotics and argues that in order for robots to accomplish everyday tasks in an environment shared by humans, their higher cognitive abilities need to be based on the action and experience with the environment. He was one of the first scientists to give robots the ability to process data on their own. “Over time there’s been a realization that vision, sound-processing, and early language are maybe the keys to how our brain is organized,” he says in this 2002 article.

Rodney Brooks is a founder of iRobot, makers of the popular Roomba vacuum. He now heads Rethink Robotics, whose mission is to apply advanced robotic intelligence to manufacturing and physical labor. “When I look out in the future, I can’t imagine a world, 500 years from now, where we don’t have robots everywhere,” he says.

In 2014, The Robotics Industries Association presented Professor Brooks was honored the Joseph F. Engelberger Award honoring “persons who have contributed outstandingly to the furtherance of the science and practice of robotics”.

US DOT Unveils Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices

 U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx examines the aging infrasture in our country. Photo via instagram.com/usdot.

In 30 years, how will you travel? That is the question the U.S. Dept. of Transportation wants us to ask ourselves. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined recently by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to unveil US DOT’s 30 Year Framework for the Future, Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices.

Beyond Traffic looks at the latest data and anticipates the trends and choices facing our transportation system over the next three decades. If we do not make significant changes, the US DOT predicts our country will face a grim future which will include extreme gridlock, higher costs, and more devastation to our already aging infrastructure.

Secretary Foxx’s draft framework for the future of transportation encourages us to ask ourselves the tough questions, look at the trends, and – hopefully – inspire some innovative thinkers to come up with solutions. “For too long, our national dialogue about transportation has been focused on recreating the past. Instead, we need to focus on the trends that are shaping our future,” he says.

How will we build a transportation system to accommodate a growing population and changing travel patterns?

How will we move things? By 2045, freight volume will increase 45 percent.

How will we build a transportation system that doesn’t just let a growing population travel – but lets them travel SAFER than ever?

How do we make our infrastructure more resilient for a time when weather events like Hurricane Sandy will occur with increasing frequency?

How can we invest the trillions of dollars our transportation needs in the smartest way possible?

These are the questions the US DOT wants us to tackle. So how can advances in robotics, research, and automation help us overcome the dramatic challenges the American transportation network is facing and change the future transportation?

Be a part of this important conversation and share your ideas at www.dot.gov/beyondtraffic.

More about Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices
Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices is structured in three parts. The first part discusses the major trends shaping our changing transportation system. The second part discusses the implications of these trends for each mode of transportation: highways, transit, pedestrian and bicycle, aviation, intercity and freight rail, maritime and pipeline. The third part presents a description of a possible future scenario based on the trends analyzed in the previous section.