You’re driving your old classic car with a partner on your way to work, through a hot, barren desert. The commute is ridiculously long; lately it has stretched to more than an hour each way, in part because the ancient car can go only 40 miles an hour. What’s worse, it lacks an air conditioner. You both roll down the windows, but that barely helps. By the time you get to work each day, you’re dripping with sweat. Your trip back home is even hotter. You could stand it if the breeze were stronger or the commute weren’t as long. “We need air conditioning,” your partner says. Here’s a classic illustration of the failure to think systematically.Read More
Despite the large growth in STEM jobs, few American students are receiving the education and inspiration they need to fill these jobs. Only 16% of American high school students are interested in a STEM career and proficient in math. Of the students who pursue a college major in a STEM discipline, only about half decide to work in a STEM career. The United States ranks a dismal 34th among industrialized nations in math, and 27th in science.
The picture gets even worse with women. While females make up about 48% of the total workforce, they comprise just 24% of STEM workers—even while women attend college at a higher rate than men. When women do study STEM, their education often fails to lead to a STEM career. Women with a college degree in a STEM discipline are less likely to work in a STEM occupation than their male counterparts; these women are more likely to work in education and healthcare. The Department of Commerce lists “a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields” as possible factors contributing to the gender gap. Providing more opportunities for women to work in STEM is widely seen as one of the most effective ways for the United States to remain competitive in the global market. Less than 45% of STEM college degrees are received by woman and minorities, though they comprise 70% of college students. And STEM jobs not requiring a college degree, such as aerospace technicians, also are going unfilled.
All of this adds up to too few Americans preparing for, and taking, STEM jobs. The White House projects that by 2018 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs in the United States. While an estimated 1.4 million U.S. science-related jobs will exist by 2020, American college graduates are expected to fill less than a third of them.
While additional funding would help push more young Americans into STEM, especially where they lack the opportunity for study, the most efficient kind of injection for the federal government to make isn’t money. It’s something else.Read More
The response to being beaten in space was as profound as the shock, and not just in increased defense spending on technology. For the first time, the nation saw technological education as a form of defense.Read More
Non-Americans earn 57% of engineering doctoral degrees, 53% of computer and information sciences doctoral degrees, 50% of mathematics and statistics doctoral degrees, 49% of engineering-tech and engineering-related doctoral degrees, and 40% of doctorates in physical sciences and science technologies.Read More
Another important reason to fund, and share, the adventure of human space flight is similar to what we offered Russian technologists in the Nineties: an opportunity for employment. A trained engineer or chemist without hope is ripe for work producing technology in the cause of terrorism.Read More
A new tool leads to new knowledge, which leads to a new tool. Over time, the cycle speeds up, first with a burst of creativity in Asia; then with the Enlightenment and the Industrial Age in Europe; leading up to the twentieth century and the invention of the airplane, transistor, and silicon chip. All of these inventions depended on the work of scientists. In turn, the scientists depended on increasingly sophisticated laboratory and field equipment. Throughout the 1900s, as the cycle spun faster and faster, the demand grew for ever more sophisticated equipment.Read More