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Today's CEO Leader in STEM: Dawne S. Hickton of RTI International Metals, Inc.

The 100 CEO Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new CEO Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development. Learn more and download the whole copy at STEMconnector.org/100CEOs. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #100STEMCEOs. Today's CEO Leader is Dawne S. Hickton of RTI International Metals, Inc.

 

Dawne S. Hickton is Vice Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of RTI International Metals, Inc., one of the world’s largest producers of advanced titanium products used in technologically sophisticated applications in the commercial aerospace, defense, propulsion, medical device, energy, industrial and chemical markets. Ms. Hickton has served as Vice Chair, President and CEO and a member of RTI’s board since 2007.

Ms. Hickton has over 25 years of diversified metals experience, including 10+ years in the titanium industry spanning several business cycles.

She is a director of several industry associations, as well as public, private and educational institutions.

Q&A

How do you believe STEM education can improve a nation's competitiveness?
Technology is evolving faster than ever before. To remain competitive in the global marketplace, U.S.-based companies must continually advance the next great innovation. Doing so requires a workforce with top-notch technical skills and the ability to think critically and creatively. These are the skills that a world class STEM education provides.

Unfortunately, when it comes to STEM preparation, there are gaps and inadequacies in our education system. If schools and businesses commit to finding ways to partner in improving STEM education, we will prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s innovators. A new generation of innovators will be needed to ensure that the U.S. remains competitive in the global marketplace.

What is your advice to those involved in promoting STEM education?
First, I encourage those working to promote STEM education to develop meaningful, long-standing partnerships with businesses in order to understand what types of STEM skill sets are needed in the workplace. For example, RTI has an interest in material science (metallurgy), accounting/finance, engineering and IT professionals.

Once you have a solid understanding of the practical applications of STEM education, seek creative ways to make STEM fields attractive to students. And don’t neglect the importance of STEM teachers. Push for policies that require rigorous math and science curriculums, fully-qualified educators, and regular training to keep teachers’ knowledge base sharp.

Finally, be relentless in your pursuit. We will not overcome the inadequacies in STEM education overnight. However, I believe that your investment of time, talent and resources in the pursuit of STEM excellence will result in a generation of students prepared to meet the technological needs of the future.

What do we need in the US to continue to be at the top of global innovation?
The U.S. needs to produce more technical school and college STEM majors. Top-notch STEM professionals are critical for American businesses to stay at the forefront of global innovation, but our technical schools, colleges and universities are not graduating enough of these professionals to meet the demand.

We’re filling some of that gap by importing STEM talent from other countries. We must also seek ways to make it attractive for U.S. students, especially women and minorities who are underrepresented in the field, to choose STEM careers.

Additionally, we must develop and support rigorous math and science curriculums in all American elementary and secondary schools so that there is a wide and deep pool of graduating seniors that are genuinely prepared for technical school and college-level STEM studies.

How is your company connecting diversity initiatives with STEM initiatives? Is this a part of your comprehensive strategy?
As a business leader and woman in the STEM field, I am passionate about finding ways to increase the number of women and minorities in the field. As a business leader, I’m also passionate about increasing the number of candidates with strong STEM backgrounds because RTI’s reputation as a leader in “Advancing Titanium” depends upon it. We believe that committing early to student education in the STEM fields will build robust pipelines of future STEM employees. For example, we annually sponsor a high school team to compete in the Aerospace Industries Association’s Team America Rocketry Challenge. RTI managers volunteer at local schools and through other STEM-sponsored organizations, and I have personally taken schoolchildren on plant tours.

Diversity initiatives are a core principle of RTI’s strategic plan, and we use that commitment to support and encourage diversity in STEM fields. When we are identifying and selecting viable STEM candidates for anticipated openings, our goal is to identify at least one minority and one female for every open leadership position. Women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields so this is a challenge – but one that we embrace.

Check out RTI International Metals, Inc.'s Profilehttp://stemconnector.org/rti-metals-inc

NSF grant advances career and educational pathways in geospatial technology

 

The Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University and Mesa Community College have been awarded an $886,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support career and educational pathways in geospatial technology (GST).

With cross-disciplinary applications, the tools and methods that make up GST provide a unique opportunity for teaching 21st century STEM skills to a wide range of students.

Geospatial Connections promoting Advancement to Careers and Higher Education (GEOCACHE), an Advanced Technological Education project, provides sustained professional development in GST skills and project-based instruction. Participants implement STEM-integrated lessons which require students to utilize GST to analyze data and communicate claims with spatial evidence.

Goals of GEOCACHE include improving students’ workforce skills, increasing awareness of GST-related careers, and increasing participation in courses that prepare students for STEM career success.

GEOCACHE is currently recruiting Arizona participants. For more information, please contact Lori Rubino-Hare (Lori.Hare@nau.edu) or Karen Blevins (Karen.Blevins@mesacc.edu). 

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Alcoa Foundation Announces US $1.25 Million Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth

   Alcoa Foundation Announces US$1.25 Million Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth
New York, September 30, 2013 - Today, Alcoa Foundation announced a US$1.25 million internship program for 500 students in eight countries over the next two years. The program is a community-wide initiative involving several manufacturing companies and will be managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The goal is to provide unemployed youth with the experience to start a successful career in manufacturing.
 
The announcement was made at Alcoa’s 125th anniversary celebration in Pittsburgh, PA, by Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld, who stressed the importance of youth receiving work-related experience and information about post-secondary education and technical training options.
 
“To educate and train young people well is fundamental for allowing them to create their own future. This is critically important for the individual as much as it strengthens the communities they live in. We are proud to work with our nonprofit partners around the world in bringing these opportunities to our Alcoa locations and offer attractive opportunities for the youth to explore careers in manufacturing and engineering.”
 
Alcoa (NYSE: AA) leadership in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Jamaica, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States will select nonprofit organizations with job readiness programs to financially support, that will  place students in internships with local manufacturers.
 
“This program will provide student interns with valuable hands-on learning experience and teach the skills necessary for a career in advanced manufacturing,” said Tricia Napor, Vice President, Alcoa Foundation. “In addition, local nonprofits will work with Alcoa locations to arrange volunteers to mentor interns, share manufacturing expertise, and host locations visits for all interns in the program.” 
 
Each nonprofit will receive on average $125,000 to deploy a paid-internship program in the community.
 
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately $460 million. Founded 60 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $570 million since 1952. In 2012, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $21 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the Company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2012, a record 60 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,050 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 450,000 people and 2,050 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit alcoafoundation.comand follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.
 
About Alcoa
Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 125 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 11 consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 30 countries across the world. For more information, visit www.alcoa.com, follow @Alcoa on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Alcoa and follow Alcoa on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Alcoa.
 
About the Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. For more information, visit www.iie.org.
 
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This Week in The Gooru Corner: The Great Apes

 
Are you ready for a family reunion? This week, in the Gooru corner, we'll explore the often complicated relationship between humans and our nearest evolutionary relatives. Can studying the other great apes - chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans - shed light on the nature of our own species? And is it possible to communicate across the species gap?
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Gooru is a free search engine for learning developed by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to honor the human right to education. Visit us at www.goorulearning.org.
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Today's CEO Leader in STEM: Robert L. Parkinson of Baxter

The 100 CEO Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new CEO Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to
support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development. Learn more and download the whole copy at 
STEMconnector.org/100CEOs. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #100STEMCEOs. Today's CEO Leader is Robert L. Parkinson of Baxter
 

Prior to joining Baxter in April 2004, Robert L. Parkinson was dean of Loyola University Chicago’s School of Business Administration and Graduate School of Business. Previously, he had a distinguished 25-year career at Abbott Laboratories, serving in a variety of domestic and international management and leadership positions. Parkinson joined Abbott in 1976 and held a number of marketing and management positions there before being named vice president of European operations in 1990, president of the chemical and agricultural division in 1993 and president of the international division responsible for pharmaceutical, hospital and nutritional products in 1995.

In 1998 he became a member of its board of directors before being named president and chief operating officer of the company in 1999. He retired from Abbott in 2001. Parkinson’s personal commitment to education and life-long learning has been evident throughout his career and involvement in various organizations. Most recently, Parkinson was instrumental in the 2008 establishment of Baxter’s Science@Work: Expanding Minds with Real-World Science education initiative – a multi-year commitment to the Chicago Public Schools to support teacher training and student development in healthcare and biotechnology.

He currently serves on Loyola University Chicago's Board of Trustees, is chairman of the board of Junior Achievement of Chicago and serves on the board of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Parkinson also serves on the board of directors for Chicago-based Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and as chairman of the board of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. He is past chairman of the Executives' Club of Chicago. Parkinson earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University Chicago.

Q&A

Why do you believe STEM Education/workforce development is critical to our nation's future?
Innovation is such an important part of our national fabric that, over the past 250 years, it has made America what it is today. Innovation is the grease that makes America’s free enterprise system operate so effectively and become a model to the world. And no place has innovation played such a role in touching the lives of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, than in healthcare – especially innovation that has originated from the United States. As a healthcare company, we believe that STEM education and work force development initiatives that inspire youth to seek out careers that stimulate innovation and advance patient care are critical to our business and to public health. As the nation's healthcare needs increase, we need to ensure that all students have every opportunity to learn and be inspired by math and science. For example, Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing minority population in the United States, expected to triple by the year 2050 to constitute more than a quarter of the total U.S. population, according to projections from the Pew Research Center. However, Latinos are underrepresented in healthcare careers, with 3 percent of nurses, 3.4 percent of pharmacists, 3.8 percent of physicians and 5.3 percent of physician assistants of Latino descent, according to the 2000 U.S. Census and the Health Resources & Services Administration.

How do you believe STEM education can improve a nation's competitiveness?
Education is the most important issue in our society. We must support STEM education, particularly in math and science, at both the primary and secondary education level if we wish to sustain our track record of innovation. As a science- and technology-based healthcare company, Baxter has a responsibility to help provide current students as well as future generations with opportunities to thrive in these areas. In the biotechnology sector, for instance, the U.S. outpaces every country in the world in overall innovation, market capitalization, efficiency, patents, funding for neglected diseases and approved bio-therapies. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the U.S. files more than twice as many chemistry, biotechnology and pharmaceutical patents as other countries combined. The U.S. also leads the world in Nobel Prizes in Physics, Physiology and Medicine, and Chemistry – more than 88 U.S.-based prize winners in the last 20 years, compared with just 52 from all other nations.

What is the STEM initiative that your company has supported are you most proud?
Baxter’s Science@Work: Expanding Minds with Real-World Science program is a multi-year commitment with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to support teacher training and student development in healthcare and biotechnology. Since 2008, Science@Work-sponsored initiatives reached more than 60,000 students and 720 teachers, representing 45 percent of the 145 high schools throughout the district. More than 450 Baxter volunteers supported 85 real-world events for teachers and students, including several opportunities for students to experience science first-hand through interactions with Baxter professionals.

Additionally, Baxter is a founding member of FIRST® Robotics and has participated in its engineering competition since 1986, and Baxter employees worldwide have taught students the fundamentals of the free market and entrepreneurism through Junior Achievement.

What do we need in the US to continue to be at the top of global innovation?
here are a number of constraints that exist, or are emerging, that will impact the pace of innovation going forward and every country in the world is struggling to find the right mechanisms to manage these constraints. Sustaining our culture of innovation in the U.S. – especially in healthcare -- will require increased collaboration between the private and public sectors. It will require the courage for us, as a country, to deal with the most important underlying social issue of advancing the quality of our education system at all levels.

What counsel would you provide around "collaboration to achieve success" in STEM Education and work force development?
According to the 2011 Nation’s Report Card, only 35 percent of eighth-graders perform at or above proficiency for their grade level in math and 32 percent of eighth-graders perform on par for their grade level in science. Advancing elementary and high school math and science education today sets the foundation for biotech discoveries for years to come. The schools can’t do this alone: collaboration will be critical. Corporations today – particularly global corporations – have a much greater role to play, and a greater responsibility than ever before, to help ensure a sustainable world. Social concerns such as education are too big for any individual, private organization or single company to tackle. We all must share responsibility – academia, corporations, governments, foundations and NGOs – and work together to find and implement practical solutions. Collaborations among sectors are

Check out Baxter's STEMconnector Profile: STEMconnector.org/baxterinternational

The Gooru Corner: Visualizing Special Relativity

 
In our day-to-day activities, the laws of special relativity don't seem very apparent; time seems to continue at the same speed regardless of where we stand. How, then, can we grasp a branch of physics that seems to defy all of our common observations? This week's Gooru collection brings together an all-star set of resources that together seek to demystify special relativity through visuals, interactive simulations, and clever analogies. 
 
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Gooru is a free search engine for learning developed by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to honor the human right to education. Visit us at www.goorulearning.org.  

 

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$2M Up for Grabs with Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow Contest!

Are you interested in winning a share of $2,000,000 in technology and prizes for your school? This fall, Samsung is giving public schools nationwide the opportunity to discover the power of technology by participating in its annual Solve for Tomorrow contest. 
 
Are you and your students innovative? Do you think you can use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) to help solve an environmental challenge in your local community? Apply for Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow contest and become eligible for the Environmental Sustainability Innovation Award, in which your school can win an additional $50,000 in Samsung technology! 
 
Note: By filling out the application, you will be entered in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. Up to 255 teachers will be chosen to create their vision for this program, and then 51 teachers will be chosen to have their classes create videos addressing the challenge, "Show how STEM can be applied to help your local community." All 51 chosen teachers will receive a video creation kit to help complete the task. These 51 teachers' schools will win a minimum of $20,000*  in technology grants and be eligible to win the Environmental Sustainability Innovation Award which is valued at $50,000.  (*Estimated Retail Value)
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100 CEO’s Top Five Commitments to Bridge U.S. STEM Skills Gap

Tata Consultancy Services Reveals Key Cross-Sector STEM Insights as ‘Voice of Corporate America’ 

Washington, D.C. September 26, 2013 | Tata Consultancy Services (BSE: 532540, NSE: TCS), a leading IT services, consulting and business solutions organization, today announced the results of its mapping analysis of STEMconnector®’s recent ‘100 CEO Leaders in STEM’ publication, a first-of-its-kind survey of 100 American CEOs reflecting the corporate voice of America on important STEM issues. During a live CEO panel organized by STEMconnector® on September 25, Balaji Ganapathy, Head of Workforce Effectiveness, TCS North America, unveiled that the top focus areas for most CEOs were technology and innovation as key growth drivers, diversity and women in STEM fields, and the importance of these factors for the U.S. economy and competitiveness as a nation.  

“There is no doubt that a nation that is technologically savvy will inevitably have a competitive edge.” Said N Chandrasekaran, CEO and Managing Director, TCS. “As we become more ‘digital’ as a society, not only does STEM education lead to technology-led innovations, but also increased competitiveness and productivity of a country. Future job growth will be in STEM disciplines, and a nation aspiring to be a global leader can use STEM education as a perfect platform for economic growth and prosperity.”
 
TCS’ Connected Marketing Solutions team analyzed and mined the most emphasized CEO responses in STEMconnector’s report to reveal further insightful trends, challenges and recommended solutions. Across numerous industries, the top three areas of cross-sector CEO consensus were: 41 percent feel it is important to train young students and professionals in STEM education to meet critical future U.S. workforce needs; 40 percent strongly support STEM education of women and underrepresented minorities; and 35 percent feel technical training innovation is essential for economic growth and competitive advantage in the global marketplace. 
 
The top five commitments from the 100 CEOs – representing a combined revenue of more than $3.27 trillion and 7.6 million employees – to increase STEM participation were:
1. Understand and train for critical STEM skills and experiences their organizations need to succeed. 
2. Invest in STEM education with public and private organizations, establishing mentorships and apprenticeships. 
3. Increase employees’ awareness of STEM challenges and establish cross-departmental alignment on STEM company initiatives. 
4. Encourage them to get involved with STEM initiatives outside of work to help motivate future STEM employees. 
5. Change perceptions within their communities by educating students, teachers, career counselors, and parents about the various and promising career opportunities requiring STEM skills. 
 
“The role of technology and innovation as a prime driver of U.S. growth in STEM was a powerful insight, validating our prior outlook,” said Surya Kant, President, North America, UK & Europe, TCS. “The commitment of the 100 CEOs and the cross-sector consensus shows how deeply they feel about the issue of educating our youth, and inclusion of women and minorities in STEM. We need several corporate leaders to answer the call-to-action, identify existing best practices for in-school and out-of-school programs, and make the commitment to use their core competencies and resources to bridge the US STEM gap.” 
 
“It is all about CEO commitment. We are collectively humbled by the caliber of the thoughtful insight. We must all take a collective action to ensure America’s youth and workforce are equipped with the STEM skills needed to compete in the global market economy” said Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector®.
 
TCS put its Connected Marketing Solution’s ‘Voice of Customer Analytics’ (VoCA) platform to work, using text-mining algorithms to analyze each of the 100 CEO’s responses, categorize them and extract key phrases, themes and opinions. Patterns, metrics and graphical summaries were identified to provide clear views of the CEO’s perspectives, sentiment, satisfaction, expectations, and potential actions. In partnership with STEMconnector®, TCS has published these insights and analysis in a white paper on its website at www.tcs.com/STEM100CEOTalk.    
 
In September, TCS summarized the key issues and potential solutions to address STEM workforce issues, following the ‘Computer Science Executive Round Table’ that it hosted in partnership with STEMconnector®. This dynamic event held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. brought together executives, government officials and thought leaders sharing a common cause: increasing students’ interest and participation in computer science (CS), advocating for stronger educational policy, and implementing programs that will effectively excite and prepare students for computer science careers. The event was designed to assess the current status of computer science education and careers at a national and state level, and then create a blueprint for addressing the key issues through cross-sector collaboration. 
 
TCS also recently completed the fifth year of TCS goIT, its own multi-tiered program engaging students, parents, universities, and local government in competitions to increase excitement in STEM and technology related careers. The program is now expanding to cover 10 cities in the U.S. and Toronto, Canada.
 
 
About Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS)
Tata Consultancy Services is an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization that delivers real results to global business, ensuring a level of certainty no other firm can match. TCS offers a consulting-led, integrated portfolio of IT, BPS, infrastructure, engineering and assurance services. This is delivered through its unique Global Network Delivery Model™, recognized as the benchmark of excellence in software development. A part of the Tata group, India’s largest industrial conglomerate, TCS has over 277,000 of the world’s best-trained consultants in 44 countries. The company generated consolidated revenues of US $11.6 billion for year ended March 31, 2013 and is listed on the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange in India. For more information, visit us at www.tcs.com.
 
About STEMconnector®
STEMconnector® is “the one-stop-shop” for STEM information. With several products and services, STEMconnector® supports its members design, implement and measure their STEM strategies. Since its launch in 2011, STEMconnector® has been the leader in leveraging a network of STEM stakeholders and “making things happen.” STEMconnector®’s charge is to identify, inform and connect entities working in STEM Education/Careers to assess smart STEM investments and results. For information on how to become a sponsor, contact: Lorena.Fimbres@STEMconnector.org.
 
Follow TCS on Twitter @TCS_News
Subscribe to an RSS Feed of TCS Press Releases
 
Follow STEMconnector® on Twitter @STEMconnector.

 

Jonathan J Kaufman: STEM and The Power of Difference

The Power of Difference: How Inclusion Will Help Spark the STEM Revolution for the 21st Century is a monthly blog feature by Jonathan J. Kaufman that explores how the diversity of human capital will impact STEM companies’ ability to stay competitive on a global landscape. With an emphasis on the growth of select communities like those on the autism spectrum, wounded warriors and others, the feature will focus on both trends and solutions that are critical for the growth of STEM work in the digital age.
 
When I started thinking about this essay I thought long and hard about why I would be writing about STEM work. The truth is I am a social scientist and a practicing member of what is so often referred to as the “soft sciences.” What in my background would give me any credence to write about STEM in any capacity?  Then, it suddenly hit me; my life has been enhanced significantly by those in the STEM fields. As a person living with Cerebral Palsy I would not be where I am today without those amazing men and women in the STEM fields who have allowed me the possibility that I wouldn’t have had without their contribution to my life personally. Though it may have been indirectly it was their skills that have given me continued opportunities starting with my ability to walk! 
 
As a social scientist, I have learned a lot about the STEM fields through the lens of studying and working with those on the autism spectrum. It is this experience that has certainly led me to feel I have something to contribute to the STEM Connector and offer companies a greater insight to the value that the autism community can have across the STEM disciplines. Though just as important, is the power of difference which offers new avenues to help find innovative solutions in the STEM arena presenting company’s new competitive vistas to climb for the future. My goal for this monthly Op-Ed is to delve deeper into this area and offer Senior Level Managers and C-Suite Level Executives tools on how to best leverage these opportunities going forward.
 
Over the past decade I have spent a lot of time working with the autism community.  One of the most important things I have seen and continue to discover is how diverse our minds are and infact, that some people are better “wired” to be in STEM work than others. One of the most profound arguments for the power of difference is Temple Grandin’s TED Talk “The World Need All Kinds of Minds” where she makes the case that people on the autism spectrum are vital for STEM work and are part of the fabric and future of “smart geeky kids.” She explains that those on the spectrum are wired differently than “neurotypicals” and see the world in a different way whether it be through patterns, verbally or pictures as she does. Grandin offers insight into how these types of thinkers can solve problems others may miss.
 
One of my arguments for the power of difference is that it constantly offers new insights and perspectives which can only be a value add. This argument has been reiterated by John Elder Robison in his book Be different: Adventures of a Free Range Aspergian where he writes “The path we choose is influenced by who we are and our environment. The more different you are from other people, the more likely you are to solve problems in a unique way…. that maybe a handicap in school, where they expect you to do things the teacher’s way. Once you get out of school, though your difference can become a powerful competitive advantage.” 
 
As we walk further into the power of difference we will look deeper into not only some of the nuances of those on the autism spectrum but how this community can be best leveraged to meet the needs of major companies and add innovative value in areas ranging from human capital to new product and services. We will also explore deeper the notion of difference as it pertains to what Professor Howard Gardner referrers to as the “Five Minds of the Future” and present companies new alternatives for growth in the 21st Century giving them a foundation to compete on a global stage.
 
See you next month, but in the meantime if you have any questions feel free to connect with me anytime at jonathan@jkaufmanconsulting.com
 
Jonathan J Kaufman is the Founder of J Kaufman Companies and J Kaufman Consulting. Follow him on Twitter @jkaufmanconsult
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Autism activist Temple Grandin talks about how her mind works- sharing her ability to "think in pictures"

Today's CEO Leader in STEM: Sajan Pillai of UST Global

The 100 CEO Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new CEO Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development. Learn more and download the whole copy at STEMconnector.org/100CEOs. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #100STEMCEOs. Today's CEO Leader is Sajan Pillai of UST Global

As CEO, Sajan Pillai provides leadership to all of UST Global’s professionals while heading up the company's global business operations. His responsibilities include acquisitions, client development, global operations, and service delivery.

Mr. Pillai brings us his extensive background in the offshore IT industry, having served as co-founder of Softek Systems in India and as an engineer in one of top three consulting services companies in India. He has also architected and managed several large software systems for MCI Telecommunications in the United States and subsequently held senior management positions in Tanning Systems, a U.S.-based software solutions company.

Mr. Pillai graduated with a degree in computer science and engineering from the College of Engineering, Trivandrum, India.

Q&A

Why do you believe STEM Education/workforce development are critical to our nation's future?

STEM creates the basic skill sets needed for innovation. Nations and humanity at large depend on innovation to solve increasingly complex problems in healthcare, resource constraints (food, water and air), energy and shelter. 15 out of 20 growth jobs of this decade require significant STEM skills; yet less than a third of the population has any exposure to core STEM education and significantly less are proficient at STEM to be able to specialize in jobs. The US is significantly behind the world leaders in STEM education at the primary and secondary level. We need an active collaboration agenda between government, public agencies, non- profit organizations and associations and private sector to drive STEM education themes forward.

How do you believe STEM education can improve a nation's competitiveness?

In this era of increasing global competition, with the advent hyper connectivity and a flatter world, human capital specifically in STEM will become the single biggest asset of a nation. Without STEM talent, our nation would slip further in innovation, which would be significantly detrimental to the economic development of our nation in spite of our natural resources. We are staggeringly behind in STEM education. We only produce 60,000 top engineering graduates, which in absolute numbers is 23rd in the world. Less than 17% of the entire student population is proficient at Math or science yet the STEM related job opportunities are growing 300% faster than NON STEM related jobs. Already, the average STEM job pays 75% more than average NON STEM jobs and that difference is increasing. We as a nation have declared STEM education as a national priority. However, we need an active education agenda with the collaboration of academicians, government agencies and private sector to make the difference.

What traits do corporate leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM education today?

Corporate leaders have several key and vital roles to play in STEM education. The most vital of them is being the advocate for standards at the national and regional level. Corporate leaders also can activate parents to be active in the communities in STEM education. Corporate giving is another area where with clear and specific focus on ROI, we can redirect fairly substantial resources to STEM education agenda. Corporate leaders can also inspire the power and potential of volunteerism of their employee base to be effectively engaged in STEM education. They can also leverage their existing relationships and networks like community colleges to focus on STEM education with the 3 point agenda 1) Make STEM interesting 2) Educate the STEM educators 3) Make STEM Hands On!

How can we can we do a better job to strategically coordinate all those engaged in STEM across the company?

Corporations often have a diverse workforce with multi region (multi country focus) with several departments. STEM support is often executed regionally with a central STEM support strategy. To do this, the pieces are to 1) evolve a central strategy that ties STEM education to the corporate workforce needs b) create a list of regional projects that focuses on innovative approaches to STEM education c) Create corporate wide metrics to build and monitor STEM progress d) Provide support structures like “Assets and expertise Maps” available within the corporation. With a head coordinator at the central level with clear regional projects, you can create a corporate model for sustained STEM support and success.

How is your company connecting diversity initiatives with STEM initiatives? Is this a part of your comprehensive strategy?

Diversity in STEM education is a current problem and a future opportunity. Today women and minorities are 28% of the workforce yet only 7% of it is STEM workforce. The earning potential of the population that is STEM trained is significantly higher (by 75%) than NON STEM jobs, which would give us opportunity for social inclusion at regional and national levels. Also in corporate environments, diversity in STEM is crucial for the “innovation pipeline”. Innovation is critically dependent on diverse human experiences and a diverse STEM trained work force can be the significant competitive asset of the corporation. It is therefore important to connect the diversity initiatives of the corporations with ongoing STEM initiatives.

Check out UST Global's STEM Profile: STEMconnector.org/ust-global
 

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