Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Inventer solving STEM

I was lucky enough to go to a conference where Dean Kaman, master inventor of the Segway and others was speaking on his solution to the STEM problem in this country.  Innovators looks at problems from a totally different perspective. The STEM issue is not about supply and demand, it is about demand and supply. Dean assumes that we do not have a total the education crisis in this country so our good schools should produce enough STEM professionals.  His hypothesis is that our STEM crisis is a value crisis.

Students are not focused on STEM as a career. Kids don't think STEM is accessible or attractive and STEM careers/professionals are not seen in a positive light. "In a free society you get what you celebrate and we celebrate sport and entertainment to obsession." We lead the world in sports and entertainment so they have gone from a national pastime to a national obsession.  But obsessing over sports and entertainment will never create national prosperity - leading in technology will.

The STEM problem is about demand and not supply. If the demand is there then everything else falls into place including better resources leading to better teaching leading to more STEM professionals. 

We must change the culture of the United States and we already have the roadmap to do this from sports and entertainment.  So Dean created FIRST.
"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders."
                                                                Dean Kamen, Founder
FIRST's Mission
Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
He made a science competition to compete with the Super Bowl!
He created inspiration and recognition for science and technology because teachers don't create demand. The culture and great companies will. The demand will drive the supply.
When the problem is defined and the free market is allowed to respond, great companies rise to the occasion

The results are staggering and it is great to see someone really look at an innovative solution to STEM.  One that REALLY works!