Indiana Humanities Offers ‘Shelfie’ Challenge

I was a little too excited when I saw the Shelfie Challenge from the Indiana Humanities Quantum Leap program. A reading contest where you win a $10 Amazon gift card at the end? Sign me up!

Alas, I skimmed right over the information that the program is only for Hoosier middle schoolers in grades 5-8. So, I can’t participate, but maybe you know a middle schooler who might be looking for some new reading material this summer.

The 10 books in this challenge are all about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). A mix of fiction, non-fiction and graphic novel, but all about women and girls in science.

Here’s why it caught my eye initially: I have a 6-year-old little girl at home who is enthralled in the sciences and math! She’s always been a curious thinker and is a natural questioner of her surroundings, wanting to understand how things work and why.

Recently, we were flipping through the parks and recreation catalog for our hometown and while I encouraged her to look at the sporting options (I’m also always looking for ways to tire her out in the summer), she opted instead for the “All About Birds” STEM program. Of course!

And the other night there was a nature documentary on PBS about hummingbirds, so we had to stop and watch it, naturally.

This is a topic that really hits home for our family and even though I’m too old and she’s too young to participate in this particular challenge, I’m so happy to see a list of books on this topic – and you can bet we’re going to be adding these to our reading list anyway.

To enter the challenge, read at least five books from the list by the end of 2018. Take some notes about what you’re reading or how you feel about it and fill out an online survey and voila – that $10 Amazon gift card is yours!

Defying – Not Glorifying – Stereotypes

Every once in a while, something really fires me up. Today’s trigger is about misconceptions regarding women engineers.

First, there’s the words of wisdom (insert heavy sarcasm) of Nobel Peace Prize winner Tim Hunt. This summer, he declared – at the World Conference of Science Journalists – that labs should be segregated by sex. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” he reportedly mused. “You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry!”

Shameful, indeed. It reminded me of another recent high-profile controversy, this time involving Isis Wenger. The brilliant OneLogin platform engineer unwittingly found herself at the center of a firestorm when she posed for a recruiting photo.

To both the company and Wenger’s surprise, what got people talking about the campaign wasn’t the image of its security engineer wearing a black hat and hackers shirt … Instead, it was the photo of Wenger. TechCrunch reported a taste of what people had to say about it:

“This is some weird haphazard branding. I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes. Perhaps that’s the intention all along. But I’m curious people with brains find this quote (appearing on Wenger’s shirt) remotely plausible if women in particular buy this image of what a female software engineer looks like. Idk. Weird.”

And here’s what another guy said:

“If their intention is to attract more women, then it would have been a better to choose a picture with a warm, friendly smile rather than a sexy smirk. …”

To change the way people think about engineers, Wenger started the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer.

“#ILookLikeAnEngineer is intentionally not gender specific,” Wenger says. “External appearances and the number of X chromosomes a person has is hardly a measure of engineering ability. My goal is to help redefine “what an engineer should look like” because I think that is a step towards eliminating sub-conscious bias towards diversity in tech.”

Wenger’s hashtag has inspired women to post their own photos illustrating that they also “look like an engineer.”

You go, ladies!

Engineering and Business: Collaboration in Education

Brooks G 3047_head_shotThis post from Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., president of Trine University and member of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce board of directors, originally appeared in Inside INdiana Business.

The rapidly changing economic environment illustrates the importance of universities to provide both engineering and business programs with innovative curriculum. Such programs are essential because these students will be responsible for engineering, technology and business initiatives in the 21st century.

With that in mind, Trine University has created the College of Engineering and Business to focus on fast-changing economic needs while harnessing opportunities that exist and providing broader educational options.

It is imperative universities respond to circumstances within the contemporary climate of education. More high school graduates are entering college with college credits already earned, requiring universities to develop nontraditional options. While this can reduce student debt, we think universities should also strive to offer creative and unique curriculum to provide an even broader education. At Trine, students bringing credits can earn a bachelor degree in just three years, or opt to earn a bachelor degree and a master degree in four years in the 3 + 1 program.

Trine created three-year bachelor programs and went a step further to offer a one-year master’s degree program for both engineering and business students who choose to enter the 3 + 1 program. These students may earn a bachelor degree in any engineering major in three years and earn a Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) in one year. Business concepts are the nucleus of the MSEM curriculum.

In comparison, students may earn a bachelor degree in any business major in three years and a Master of Business Administration in one year. The MBA curriculum includes engineering fundamentals. Both programs promote the cross-education model of preparing business and engineering students to collaborate and understand each other’s responsibilities for the success of the companies they serve.

Employers tell us there is a gap in the educations of engineering and business students entering the workforce. By responding to this concern, universities can better prepare their students for successful careers.

Engineers are excellent at developing devices and creating technology to advance their employers’ products and/or services, but often they are not equally adept at understanding business processes. Changes in the economic environment demand engineers possess business skills too. Engineering professionals of tomorrow must be self-sufficient business units, regardless of their position. The blending of engineering and business studies should foster this vision.

Traditionally, universities teach engineering knowledge and skills around manufacturing, technology support and product design. In Trine’s College of Engineering and Business, we teach these methods with the additional curriculum to build entrepreneurial skills crucial to develop economically relevant opportunities for business and technology. For example, engineering students of all disciplines can minor in business, preparing them for roles in engineering management, cost accounting, resource acquisition and leveraging, and financial risk management.

Similarly, business students must understand how engineering operations work and how successful engineering and technology companies operate. The curriculum for business students is enhanced by engineering-based courses on innovation, technology planning, development processes and patents. They must also understand the engineers’ perspective along with their problem-solving process and technical limitations they encounter. Businesses cannot sell goods engineers cannot produce and engineers should not produce goods businesses cannot sell.

Universities with a business school model that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit can promote initiatives and experiences to benefit business and engineering students. In Trine’s case, the Rhoads Center for Entrepreneurship along with Innovation One, an innovative service delivery framework within Trine, give business and engineering students the ability to work and learn together. Students team in a collaborative, hands-on environment to develop ideas and concepts along with business plans and more through private-sector projects secured by Innovation One.

Forging relationships between higher education and business and industry benefits students and employers. Such partnerships pave the way for internships, cooperative education and full-time employment. These opportunities enhance experiential learning, raise awareness of employers’ needs and expectations, and expand employment options for graduates.

Keeping pace with today’s fast-moving technologies and economy is the primary motivator in combining engineering and business studies. It is the educator’s responsibility to use a holistic approach to prepare students to be career-ready so they can make an immediate impact.

A ‘Goliath’ Example of an Exciting Engineering Career

Think engineering jobs are mundane? Think again!

Check out this Chicago Tribune story about Goliath, the new roller coaster at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., set to open this Saturday. It will set three records for wooden roller coasters, and it will be the steepest and fastest wooden coaster in the world.

The road to construction of this roller coaster involved engineering innovation. The article details the work of the engineers, bringing this structure to life.

STEM Jobs Becoming Larger Emphasis in Indiana

Hannah Rozow is the student representative on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. An undergraduate at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is pursuing a double major in economics and political science with a minor in Spanish.

Indiana needs more workers educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

According to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the demand for STEM jobs in Indiana will rise to 4% of the total workforce by 2018. Of those 115,570 jobs, 90% will require some postsecondary education, and 43% will require at least a bachelor’s degree. So what are colleges and universities doing about it?

Institutions across the state have launched initiatives to meet projected demand. Many of these efforts aim to meet the needs of a particular region, while some serve the state as a whole. Here are some of the projects underway in Indiana:

  • Purdue University College of Engineering introduced a plan to increase undergraduate enrollment by 10% and graduate enrollment by 25% to 30% over the next 5 years.
  • Ivy Tech Community College received a $3.1 million grant from North Central Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) to train 44,000 people of the North Central region for STEM-based careers over the next 5 years.
  • The University of Notre Dame’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program in Indiana (AP-TIP IN) works to increase enrollment in AP courses – math, science and English – and increase the number of qualifying scores on AP exams at 33 Indiana public high schools.
  • In an effort to attract students at an earlier age, Ivy Tech-Northeast hosts Adventure and Imagination Summer STEM Camp for students ages 11 to 14. Similarly, Indiana University-Bloomington hosts Adventures in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math summer camp for middle school students.
  • Southwestern Indiana STEM (SwISTEM), through a partnership between the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech-Southwest, aims to increase the number of students in STEM majors and educate those students in a hands-on, team oriented way.
  • The state funding formula for 2013-2015 includes a high-impact degree metric, meaning a portion of public research institutions’ funding will be tied to the number of STEM degrees produced.

While institutional initiatives are an integral part to increasing the number of STEM-qualified workers, their efforts are only part of the equation. Involvement from the business community is vital. By offering job-shadowing opportunities and school presentations to local students, businesses can incite student interest in STEM education at an earlier age. Additionally, businesses should partner with local colleges and universities to ensure that students graduate not only with a STEM degree but with the professional skills needed to be a good employee.

The state needs more STEM-educated workers, and if there is a collaborative effort between colleges, universities and businesses, demand will be met.

IUPUI Helping to Fill Green Jobs

We’ve documented the forward thinking going on at Indiana’s colleges and universities on this blog many times. Today’s offering includes Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) new program to help future workers be more educated about green technology.

The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI is happy to announce a new “Sustainable Technologies Certificate” available to help students prepare for the changing green job market. This certificate is designed to address a growing need for professionals who can contribute to the green workforce with knowledge in sustainable practices in current technologies. The Sustainable Technologies Certificate is useful to students who want to have knowledge in areas of green building, renewable energies and sustainable design.

In the United States, sustainability has gained importance in business, industry, government, higher education, and in the general public’s consciousness. The goal of meeting today’s needs without harming future generations’ ability to realize their potential is a hallmark of sustainable practices. There is widespread interest from many disciplines and sectors in developing, enhancing, and integrating sustainability into all aspects of products, services and solutions. Thus, the need to equip students with the knowledge, skills and perspectives to make contributions to sustainable initiatives has never been greater.

Green jobs are rapidly being created as the economy begins embracing sustainable, energy- efficient and low-carbon practices. The Sustainable Technologies Certificate is designed to help guide future professionals who can contribute to the green global workforce. For more information on the certificate, contact Professor Pat Fox at [email protected].

IUPUI/Purdue Gets Major Award for Renewable Energy

Good news for the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, and its efforts to educate tomorrow’s leaders about renewable energy. Westcommonline explains the school is the only one in the state to be selected to take part in the Department of Education industrial efficiency training program:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI has been selected to receive a $1.3 million Department of Energy award to train undergraduate- and graduate-level engineering students in manufacturing efficiency to help them become the nation’s next generation of industrial energy efficiency experts. The award will help the university provide practical training on core energy management concepts through the DOE’s Industrial Assessment Center Program. IUPUI is the only university in Indiana selected to receive this award.

“This industrial efficiency training program opens the door to good jobs in a growing, global sector for thousands of energy-savvy students while promoting real, boots-on-the-ground progress toward our transition to a clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “The Centers will provide a boost to the next-generation of American workers as well as to the businesses with which they work.”

Through these university-based Industrial Assessment Centers, engineering students will receive extensive training in industrial processes, energy assessment procedures and energy management principles, which will be put to use working directly with small and medium-sized industrial and manufacturing facilities in the surrounding communities. Under the program, the School of Engineering and Technology will train at least 10 to 15 students per year, conduct approximately 20 energy assessments annually and perform extensive follow-on reporting, tracking, implementation, and management-improvement activities.

“The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI is making significant investments in energy engineering education and research,” said Dr. David J. Russomanno, Dean of the School. “Our new B.S. degree in energy engineering, recent additions of experienced faculty members and our Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy are investments that will enable us to significantly contribute to the goals of the DOE’s Industrial Assessment Center program.”

The School will be utilizing the resources of its energy engineering experts and the Lugar Center for Renewable Energy to form industry partnerships in the Indianapolis community. These partnerships will lead to increased research and scholarship support for undergraduate and graduate students.

Indiana Schools Making an Impact at the Brickyard

As I wrote recently in BizVoice magazine, Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis (IUPUI) has an incredibly unique offering in its Motorsports Engineering bachelor’s program. Now, the school is once again partnering with Sarah Fisher Racing in this year’s Indianapolis 500, in which SFR driver Ed Carpenter hopes to parlay an eighth position start into a delicious bottle of milk at the finish line:

As Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) proudly debuts its new driver Ed Carpenter at the famed 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, there’s another relationship the team is happy to continue developing—namely, a partnership with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

“We so appreciate the support IUPUI has shown throughout our team’s history,” said Sarah Fisher, team owner. “IUPUI has been a loyal sponsor of our team since I started as driver/owner in 2008, and I’m thrilled to have them backing us as Ed takes the wheel this season.”

Beyond a traditional sponsorship, this relationship is truly something special.

Once a student herself in the Engineering Dual Degree Program through the Purdue School of Engineering & Technology at IUPUI and Butler University, Fisher has continued to give back to the school by visiting campus to talk with undergraduate students about her experiences in the motorsports industry. And students in IUPUI’s Motorsports Engineering Program – the only program in the nation to offer a Bachelor’s of Science in Motorsports Engineering – continue to sharpen their engineering skills and motorsports savvy through internships with the team each year.

Purdue University is also a factor in this year’s race, showcasing the school’s engineering prowess by partnering with HVM Racing.

Purdue University and HVM Racing have partnered for the Indianapolis 500. The relationship will bring the HVM team advanced engineering technologies in aerodynamics, manufacturing and advanced materials, providing opportunities for Purdue students and faculty to participate in motorsports with HVM.

“HVM Racing is one of IndyCar’s leading competitors with 2010 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year driver Simona de Silvestro and one of her premier teams in the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said James Caruthers, the Reilly Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Keith Wiggins, president of HVM Racing, said, “This relationship with Purdue enables HVM to work with one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S. to exploit the latest technological innovations in aerodynamics, advanced materials and manufacturing, as well as being able to interact with bright, fresh-thinking Purdue students in a variety of ways for the future.”
 

‘Cheers’ for Ratzenberger’s Take on Skills Shortage

As a man who continues to make more than a few dollars from his acting career (think mail carrier Cliff Clavin on Cheers and a character voice in every Pixar movie since Toy Story), John Ratzenberger said many are surprised when he calls for turning off the television (video games, etc.) and sending kids outside to learn how to make things.

John Ratzenberger’s Made in America on the Travel Channel has celebrated the American worker but also highlighted the pending skills crisis in America. A documentary, Industrial Tsunami, to be released in early 2011 will illustrate the threats of this skills shortage to our economy and way of life.

A few of Ratzenberger’s key points during his most interesting presentation this week to the Chamber board of directors:

  • The importance of kids playing and learning with their hands — everything from utilizing the box that contained the new appliance to building the treehouse in the backyard. Ratzenberger was a carpenter (he helped build the stage at Woodstock) and deck hand on a ship, among other jobs, during his younger days.
  • The demise of shop and auto classes in the education system. A member of the board of trustees at Pepperdine and Sacred Heart universities, he says he has advised university presidents that in addition to their areas of study, students should be required to know how to change a tire before they graduate.
  • There is a deficit of 500,000 welders in the U.S. and colleges awarded twice as many degrees a year ago in sports management than engineering.
  • "Blue collar" has almost become a dirty phrase, including in portrayals on television and in the movies.
  • The harm of the entitlement mentality among many today. "You don’t get self-esteem by being handed things; you get self-esteem by making things, by your accomplishments."
  • High standards are a must — in education and all aspects of life. Ratzenberger continues his 15-year relationship with Pixar because it refuses to lower its standards when producing its movies.
  • His top piece of advice for business men and women: get involved in your schools and make a difference.