Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with a few political and academic leaders to discuss the energy industry. Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, Barry Smitherman and Chancellor Cheryl Schrader from Missouri University of Science and Technologyto discuss the economic and educational opportunities and challenges we face.
Next week I'm headed to Chicago to speak to 250 women engineers at an energy leadership conference. As I prepared myself about what I will speak about, it had me thinking about my engagements with both the Chairman and Chancellor on what I consider the greatest opportunity of our lifetime.
I've been hearing a lot about the decline of America. Yep, we are living it. The USA is in a decline and if we don't stop talking about it, bickering and start leading, our kids are going to lose. Sixteen years ago I graduated from college amidst the greatest revolution in our time: the rise of the connected economy, internet and e-boom! And I've been blessed again in my career to come across another transformational opportunity: the race to develop, and secure a promising energy future for America, and potentially becoming a large exporter to other nations.
I don't have a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) degree however I've come to appreciate there is no better place work on meaningful things and drive a future than working in energy. My father is an Engineer and my mother chose medicine, but after the oil and gas bust in the 1980s, I remember thinking STEM wasn't an option because it was "too hard" and there were no jobs.
STEM is fascinating, so vitally important, yet so misunderstood and sadly untapped.
According to the National Math & Science Initiative, consider these sobering statistics:
- 45 percent of 2011 U.S. high school graduates are ready for college-level math with 30 percent ready for college-level science.
- U.S. students recently finished 25th in math and 17th in science in the world compared to 31 other countries.
- The prestigious World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. as No. 48 in quality of math and science education.
- In 2008, 4 percent of U.S. bachelor’s degrees were awarded in engineering.Compared to 31 percent in China.
- In 2008, 31 percent of U.S. bachelor’s degrees were awarded in science and engineering fields. Compared to 61 percent in Japan and 51 percent in China.
- And the list goes...
My daughter Ally is nearly 3 and I'm teaching her to say these four magical words: "Science", "Technology", "Engineering", and "Math". I found out last night from Dr. Schrader, an avid tweeter, that kids are starting early in getting educated around STEM. We don't need to wait...the opportunity knock-knock is here. We need to open that door and our kids minds and do something about it. Talk to your children and learn with them! We need to begin to change the conversation around STEM and energy in particular, to create our future, rather than accept it.
In a career where you are looking to make a switch? Energy needs you and it takes a village of STEM and non STEM skills. Connect with me offline. And please, if you aren't teaching your kids (especially your daughters) about STEM, it's time to start.
Some resources to consider:
- National Science & Math Initiative
- Missouri University of Science and Technology Summer Camps
- Global Energy Management Institute - University of Houston
- Energy Day Festival
- Energy Jobs
- Department of Energy Literacy Initiative
- Energy Education Council
- Young Professionals in Energy
- Women's Energy Network
- Association for Women in Energy