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.

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
● 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.

Spotlight on Carolina Osorio, an Innovator We Admire


Photo Source

Willamette Valley Company was founded on the principal that innovation is truly at its best when it makes our lives better. Sometimes that takes on the form of advancements in the field of medicine or robotics, other times it means making our daily lives more efficient and allowing more time for what is important.

It is this reason that our “Featured Innovator of the Month” is Carolina Osorio, an assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, who wants to help solve the world’s growing traffic problem.

Traffic Jam

An all too familiar sight for anyone living in the city.

As anyone who has spent any time commuting in a city can attest, gridlocks and traffic jams can waste a large percentage of your day and turn a 20 minute drive into several hours. But did you know this problem could be solved with an algorithm and software? That’s exactly what Ms. Osorio is working to do, an endeavor that is built on her study into the traffic patterns of Lausanne, Switzerland.

She says the problem with most existing traffic light software is that it typically looks at the traffic system as a whole as opposed to a collection of individual drivers. “Most signal-timing software looks at current or historical traffic patterns. It doesn’t take into account how travel might change,”says Osorio. “Usually in practice, when you want to time traffic lights, traditionally it’s been done in a local way. You define one intersection, or maybe a set of intersections along an arterial, and you fine-tune or optimize the traffic lights there.”

This is where Osorio’s software promises to shine.  “What is less done, and is more difficult to do, is when you look at a broader scale, in this case the city of Lausanne, and you want to change signal times at intersections distributed across the entire city, with the objective of trying to improve conditions across the entire city.”

In their applied simulations of this new approach to traffic timing, Carolina Osorio and her team found a decrease in commuting time of 22% compared to standardly-used traffic software. Though Ms. Osorio’s system is not yet implemented in traffic software, one can easily see how it can positively influence cities in the future.

Carolina Osorio has received several honors and accolades for her work, including MIT Technology Review EmTech Colombia TR35 Award (2015), MIT CEE Maseeh Excellence in Teaching Award (2014), National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award (NSF CAREER) (2014), NEC Corporation Fund Award for Research in Computers and Communications MIT (2014-2015), and the National Science Foundation Award, (2013-2016). Furthermore she has been an invited Speaker on “The Road to Future Urban Mobility” at the 2016 National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) EU-US Frontiers of Engineering (EU-US FOE) Symposium.

This dedication to finding solutions to the very real problems that hinder society’s efficiency and mobility is why we have named Carolina Osorio as our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish in the future!

Note: Carolina Osorio does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is she affiliated with our company.


MIT – Traffic Lights: There’s a Better Way

Smithsonian Mag – Better Traffic-Light Timing Will Get You There Faster

MIT Innovators Under 35 – Carolina Osorio


photo credit: World Class Traffic Jam: Jersey Turnpike Version via photopin (license)


Pi Day Gives Us an Excuse to Celebrate Mathematics This Month!

Pi Day

Celebrate “Pi Day” March 14th! 

As a company full scientists, engineers and other technological innovators, we value and celebrate mathematics! So you can probably guess that Pi Day, March 14th, is a big deal to us!

Yes, Pi- the mathematical constant.  You know, that “π” symbol thing used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

Since it’s humble beginnings at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988, Pi Day has exploded into a cultural phenomenon celebrated by students, mathematicians, engineers and everyone in between around the world! The day is often commentated with pie eating contests, essays, T-Shirts, poetry, internet memes, math challenges and more!

To understand the fascination of Pi, you must first understand it’s infinite nature. Scientists and mathematicians have calculated Pi to more than a trillion digits, but its exact nature remains a mystery that will never be solved. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.

You may have memorized pi in your High School math class, only to never use it again- but it’s impact on science, technology, engineering and math is astronomical. Steven Strogatz summarizes it’s importance beautifully in this 2015 New York Times article. “The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach,” he writes. “The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi”.

Pi is so much more than a number. Our modern world depends on it. “It lies at the heart of any technology that involves rotation or waves, and that is much of mechanical and electrical engineering,” writes Chris Budd. “In medical imaging using CAT or MRI scanners, the scanning devices move on a ring which has to be manufactured to a tolerance of one part in 1,000,000, requiring an even more precise value of pi”.

We could go on about our excitement over Pi Day, but we’ll leave you with this list of interesting reads on the subject. So, from all of us at WVCO, Happy Pi Day!

photo credit: LEGO happy pi day! 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” –

“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

• 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:

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

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