Should STEM Take You Anywhere?

Should STEM Take You Anywhere?

A critique of:
Why STEM can take you anywhere

Published on February 1, 2017
By Judy Marks
CEO, Siemens USA


Judy Marks has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
Judy Marks declared, “Here’s a great example of how we can make things better for the next-generation workforce:

We call it SISchool. It’s a new STEM training program that will expose 200 young people to the latest electrical engineering technology in the classroom.”

A whole 200 kids will be exposed. What is it an elementary school? The girl in the picture looked to be about 10 or 11 years old. I really do not like this. You are trying to coerce the kids into STEM jobs at a very early age. Any career choice ought to be a calling to the kid. Education should not push anything but general knowledge.
Judy Marks stated, “This is a way to help young people establish secure career paths – and in that sense, pursuing STEM is a smart bet. Half of all US job openings through 2022 will be in what we call STEM middle-skill careers such as engineering.”

Engineering is called a high-skill job. These numbers are bogus. For middle-skill level jobs only 7% and another 4% if you count Associate degrees will be required according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is not a big need for these jobs.

Judy Marks professed, “Yet I’m not sure if that’s a motivator for young people. It’s good for parents to know. It’s good for guidance counselors to know. But thinking back to someone asking you what you wanted to do when you grow up, do you ever remember saying … “Well, I think I’ll wait to see the latest labor reports and see what fields are most in-demand”?”

You are right. Kids will not go STEM just because you try and get them interested in STEM. As with anything STEM should be a calling. Nobody should be pushing STEM on anyone. So why do it?

For adults, the labor reports, that is, the federal government still thinks that there is a STEM shortage. There is not! They said that GIS jobs were in demand. They are not. They are few and far between. One of my instructors, in the Fall of 2012, said that he had a hard time getting business which is why he taught part-time. But I went back go to school to get some knowledge of the field and I hoped a job. It did not work out. One GIS Analyst job for the city in which I live had about 80 qualified people apply for the one opening. This tells me that there is a glut of GIS people and a serious lack of GIS jobs.

Judy Marks affirmed, “Young people aren’t into safe career bets. They’re into moonshots and following their passions. As I meet with our new generation entering the workforce, I’m amazed and impressed with their desire to make significant contributions, their energy level and their interest in making a difference at work, in their communities and in society.”

How young? Regardless, they are probably told to do so. These kids will be disappointed when they become adults. Heck even in elementary school they push college onto the kids. The kids do not even know what college is. They just know that they want to go to college. Yeah right.

Judy Marks declared, “So, on one hand, I do want SISchool students to know they’re opening up doors to great entry-level positions in industry. But I also want them to know, based on my own experiences, that the first job is only a starting point. One day any one of these students could be a CEO.”

With what little you show them they are opening up doors to entry-level positions? They will probably need a bachelor’s degree or maybe even more. With only 18% of thejobs out there requiring a bachelor’s degree I suspect that there are not that many STEM openings and especially jobs that require little more than high school diploma.

Judy Marks wrote, “Growing up, I enjoyed math and science. Because of that, I was encouraged to pursue engineering and followed that passion to Lehigh University, graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. I learned important technical fundamentals.”

Yes, you had a calling to Electrical Engineering. You probably were not pushed into it. This is what I wish people like you would do to the kids. I wish you would give them their choice and not yours. For many reasons, over 50% of the people wish they would have chosen another field get into. One of these reasons may be because they were pushed or coerced into it.
But what I really learned – and what STEM really taught me – was how to solve problems.

Judy Marks declared, “For more than 30 years my focus has been launching startup or new businesses within large enterprises. Now, for the first time, I’ve been asked to lead an entire organization, and I’m both honored and humbled by the opportunity. I feel strongly that without my STEM foundation this opportunity might never have come to me.”

You don’t think that solving problems happens in other disciplines to?
Possibly, you would not be running Siemens. But you might have had an opportunity like this with another company, in another field.

Judy Marks avowed, “Technology has changed dramatically throughout my career. When I was a freshman at Lehigh, engineering students used punch cards to program. Today, engineers use software programs to create virtual designs and then have the ability to reduce those designs via additive manufacturing and 3-D printing to physical materials.”

Yes technology has expanded over the past 30-40 years, We have gone from magnetic drums to memory sticks with far more memory on them.
Judy Marks wrote, “For SISchool students, the pace of technological change will be even quicker and more revolutionary during their careers than it’s been during mine. They’ll need to continue being immersed in software far more than earlier generations. They’ll need to understand how the many components of the electrical grid work – but also, as the grid is digitalized, how to navigate operational technologies and optimize industrial internet platforms such as Mindsphere.”

Yes the infamous Internet Cloud (Mindsphere). There are just too many ways a company’s data can be hacked on the Cloud, so, I would suggest that no company put sensitive data out on the cloud. This would include any collaborations and group projects which is more and more of you.

Judy Marks asserted, “Yet I know why they will successfully adapt and drive change. It’s because, when you pursue STEM with real vigor, change also happens from within. You’re more curious and want to learn more than is required – and that learning never ends. You aren’t just amassing knowledge. You aren’t just acquiring a technical skill. You’re setting yourself up to go as far as your work ethic, drive and ambition will take you.”

People tend to forget that humans are the most adaptable creatures on the planet, so STEM itself has little to do with it. Work ethic, drive and ambition can only take you so far. You’ll need a great deal of luck, in order to get ahead.

Judy Marks stated, “So I’ll only leave them with this final thought:
Find something you enjoy doing – and then excel at it. There is no right or wrong answer for what you enjoy doing or what you choose. It’s what you choose. So, whatever it is, pursue it with dedication. Pursue it with it excellence. And be patient. Be willing to work your way up.”

This is true in life. Most will not find it in STEM though. Based on Myers-Briggs personality types maybe 7% of the population will be happy in a STEM career.

You may not be at any company long enough to work your way up. The average job lasts about 4 years. The days of working for only one company are long gone, for most. Judy Marks truly was luck to become CEO, especially with only a bachelor’s degree.

You many not last your whole working life in STEM. I mean that the average job lasts 4 years (or perhaps less) you’ll need, at least 10 jobs. Once you get laid off past the age of 35 you’ll find it increasingly harder and harder to get another job. I am sorry to have to say this but in STEM, there is rampant age discrimination. It may be everywhere.

So, I am sure that we should not be having STEM us anywhere but it may be even impossible to do now.


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