On the other side of the Atlantic we also suffer from this, engineering is associated with 'blue collar' dirty hands on work. Being a school govenor, attached to the science dept. and working in scientific research for a living I can understand why so many don't want to do STEM subjects, it's hard work and the end results really don't pay very well compared with middle (mis) management and 'clean hands'...
That's a point. I've heard a lot of "duelling statistics" that claim to prove that the "STEM Crisis" is real, or that it's a myth. A lot of the "myth" crowd argue that the *real* crisis is pay rates for qualified STEM workers, and that the STEM shortfall is a myth promulgated by employers who want more H1B visas issued so they can get STEM talent at lower pay rates. At this point, finding a clear, unbiased opinion on the issue is almost as hard as finding an unbiased set of statistics on global warming -- I don't know who to believe.
.... or companies could just pay for STEM jobs. What else would draw students into the field? Cool tech doesn't pay the iphone bill any more than banking or flipping houses. Why bother learning all those equations? A person who has the skills and the discipline to be a good engineer knows that they can make a lot more money doing something else (and usually does).
Giving students Autodesk products will teach them how to use Autodesk products. It will not assist them (much) in learning mechanics of materials, or even that drilling a 1/4" diameter hole (sorry, 6.35 mm hole) through 300mm of steel is a non-trivial exercise.
Autodesk products will make portions of STEM education more fun, easier, etc. They will not eliminate the need for a solid grounding in physics, mechanics, materials, etc.
Good comments, Thom. There seems to be a disconnect between young people's love of technology products and their interest in participating in that technology as a career. The programming merit badge for Boy Scouts is a tiny move toward connecting tech products with tech activity. Additional programs that make the connection between the tech products kids love and the education to participate in developing those products need to be created.
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