As you may well know, technology has exploded in the last 20 or so years–really exploded–and that’s led to a lot of shifts in a lot of places. Where we used to have laborers, we have mechanics repairing robots who do the labor. Where we used to use newspapers (and a lot of people still do, mind you) we now have the internet, where news is instantly accessible and visible to even more people. And where we used to have filing cabinets and people to sort the data, we have programmers making computers store and sort our information.
If you’re not getting the general trend, it’s that the world is shifting into technology.
Well there’s a bit of a downside. The education policies in a lot of places haven’t changed to match the new world. So we’re educating people to learn basic math that we can always have calculators do, and we’re not focusing on the big things that really matter: engineering and computer science.
We can be proud to say that Oregon isn’t one of those places. Some of our high schools have really stellar CS programs, and though some are trailing a bit behind, it won’t be long now until they catch up: one of Oregon’s US Senators, Jeff Merkley, has been pushing for legislation to promote science, technology, engineering and math in schools.
What that means is that kids in the next few years, probably after you’re out of high school, might have more access to CS and engineering classes. It means they might have an edge if you don’t get ahead of the game.
Some groups are already aware of this: down in Philomath, a small town near Corvallis, with a population of under 4,000, there is a really great example of how to get a leg up on your future competition. Philomath high school has an engineering group called “Team PHRED,” which has been around for 10 years now. Check out the PHRED website.
A lot of the time, groups like that are the doing of a really cool, dedicated teacher who volunteers their free time to make things happen that haven’t yet happened in legislation (case in point).
But most of the time, the project would flop if that dedicated teacher didn’t know some equally dedicated kids to get the ball rolling. And sometimes, to be frank, the kids have to get the ball rolling by harassing a teacher until he or she gives up and volunteers so said kids can have experience doing the stuff they like and want to do for a living such as engineering or computer science.
Read what I read:
- Salem News article: “Merkley Unveils Legislation to Promote Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics“
- OregonLive article: “Ten years strong, Philomath high school’s “Team PHRED” is an inspiration for budding engineers“
- OregonLive article: “Merkley promotes STEM education“
- Greengineering Bonus: Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce article: “University of Oregon raises bar for green building“