Stories about being a young black male strong in STEM studies, Chinese hackers in Happy Valley, and “London Mums” encouraging engineering for their daughters highlight a rich range of engineering-related items in this week’s round-up.
"Racialized and gendered narratives"
On the diversity beat, stories about African-Americans and women caught our eye. It becomes painfully clear, reading these pieces, how important are the stories we tell ourselves about who “belongs” in science and engineering fields. And who doesn’t.
- This piece tells the powerful story of the internal conflicts one student felt trying to balance his intellectual interests in science and engineering with the social pressures of being a young black male. Essential, difficult reading about the “racialized and gendered narratives that black male adolescents live with in urban areas.”
- In their ongoing, informative STEM series, US News provides a useful review of the factors behind declining numbers of African-American men in STEM fields.
- Megan Smith, the federal government’s Chief Technology Officer, sat down with Charlie Rose to discuss the “erasure” of women from engineering and technology narratives, such as the Steve Jobs biopic and history of the Apollo space program.
- CNET headlines the story of Carol Bartz, former Autodesk and Yahoo CEO, in their “Solving for XX” series about women in technology. Read it for, um, blunt, bracing language on the topic.
A global context
From various angles, the next set of pieces illustrates the great importance people attach to both engineering activities and accomplishments.
- Most dramatically, the College of Engineering at Penn State University cut off its own Internet access after Chinese hackers broke into its systems, possibly looking for information about research projects connected with the Department of Defense.
- Beautiful photography marks this sequence of the “most daring” engineering projects in the world.
- The CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Australia opines about his country’s urgent need for boosting its 16% STEM graduation rate, as he sees nearly half of all jobs threatened by automation technologies over the next five years.
The pathways into engineering are many
Approaches to getting more students interested in engineering and science fields ranged from the personal to the programmatic.
- The pleasingly named “London Mums” magazine features this mother’s reasons for encouraging her daughter to go into engineering, with a bonus video to boot.
- In their “Ideas” project, Time recently looked at why girls bail out of STEM pathways, a piece notable for giving high visibility to the issue and providing well-chosen links for further reading.
- Stevens Institute of Technology recently won a $632,000 award from the National Science Foundation to launch a program helping liberal arts grads transition into software engineering fields via a master’s degree program. Does beat, "fries with that?"
- The Boy Scouts of America are launching “STEM Scouts” to get students interested in STEM fields through scouting. Best thing: it’s actually co-ed.
Light on the black classroom box
Understanding what’s really going in a classroom can prove tricky. These pieces try to shed some light from various angles.
- The distance between engineering school and engineering work comes through clearly here, where learning and doing seem almost entirely separate realms.
- Specialized “STEM” programs in schools have become widely popular. Figuring out which ones merit the label is easier with these insights in mind.
- Belying claims that new learning standards wreak havoc on what teachers are doing now, this survey shows that STEM educators view Next Generation Science Standards as requiring little change to current materials and pedagogies.
- A companion piece intelligently discusses the move from standards to performance expectations accompanying implementation of Next Generation Science Standards.
That’s all for now. Please feel free to share with any interested friends or colleagues.
If you have any items of interest to pass along or thoughts on these, please add a comment or contact us directly.
Eric Iversen is VP for Learning and Communications at Start Engineering. He has written and spoken widely on engineering education in the K-12 arena. You can write to him about this topic, especially when he gets stuff wrong, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow along on Twitter @StartEngNow.