The recent months mark the first anniversary of ASQ’s Influential Voices program and my View from the Q blog. The goal of this effort is to help raise the voice of quality and extend the reach of the quality community. For years, ASQ assumed it was our job to tell the story of quality and we’ve had great success by some measures. But there’s more work to do and ASQ can’t do it alone. We’re creatively looking for ways to encourage more people to raise their voice. Among the folks who’ve taken on this challenge are the Influential Voices bloggers.
A bit of history: The Influential Voices blogging program launched in late 2010, and is continuing into 2012 with 16 new bloggers (13 original Influential Voices are also continuing into this year). These bloggers are digitally active quality professionals from around the world who have agreed to blog at least once a month on behalf of ASQ on their personal blogs. Of course, many blog on all things quality and more throughout the month! You can see a complete list of all participants on the blogroll at right. I’m one voice getting the ball rolling with a monthly blog topic for discussion on View From the Q. While I don’t think I’m in the best position to speak for quality, I concede that being the CEO of ASQ gives me a stream of information that’s pretty unique.
So, thank you to the 2011 Influential Voices, and welcome to the 2012 Influential Voices! The global community is growing, and we have much to do.
Part of that “to-do” is making sure there will be a generation of engineers and scientists to carry on the work of advancing the field. This hits close to home for me. I have an 18-year-old who wants to be a civil engineer and I spent last weekend with him in Bozeman, Montana, looking at a university. I think they set the hook, and he’s excited about studying engineering. The associate dean was an articulate spokesperson for the opportunities in engineering. She referenced the startling statistic of the U.S. Federal Government’s expectation that 30% of the workforce will retire in the next four to six years. That’s going to create one heck of a demand for new talent. And I’ve been in enough places around the world to know that demand is rising steeply, whether it’s through an aging workforce or growing economies.
Having been trained long ago as an engineer, I have a deep appreciation for the skills of a good engineer. The need for talented scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians is an important ingredient in the advancement of civilization, and the solution to the problems a growing population creates. Yet how under-recognized, and perhaps under-rewarded, our engineering community is! I’m going to find an engineer, a scientist, and a mathematician to thank today. Thank them for all they do to make the world safer and more enjoyable.
Here in the U.S., National Engineers Week will be observed February 19-25. In observance of the week, ASQ commissioned some research on teens’ pursuit of STEM careers. The good news is that teens understand that engineering will be second only to medicine for available jobs. However, teens are a bit reluctant to pursue STEM fields because they perceive the programs will be costly and demanding. There is a lot of fear when it comes to math, which was reinforced in my university tour last weekend.
Now, I’m amongst the small percent of the population who loved math. Did then, still do. Don’t know that I ever used calculus but loved the mental discipline to learn it. I don’t know if enjoying math was something I was born to, or was the gift of remarkable teachers. As a parent, I tried to show and involve our children in using math to solve our problems and make decisions. It made math relevant, and sometimes even exciting.
How do we do more of this? How can we, those who understand, use, and love science and technology, pass it along? I invite your thoughts! For those outside the U.S., how is STEM taught and encouraged in your county?