Getting an early start on a STEM career

By: Del Costy, senior vice president and managing director, Americas

Household chores helped me realize I should be an engineer. Yes, really. I took a school survey, and my results indicated I wasn’t the kid who just took out the trash like they were told. I was the kid who wouldn’t just do it, I would try to find a way to automate it or make it as efficient as possible.

I share this example because it shows how simple those first steps to discovering a STEM career can be. Sometimes we’re already thinking like an engineer, scientist, or computer programmer would. We just need to 1) realize it and 2) be inspired.

I hope today’s students are inspired after hearing Ashley Kimbel’s story. A student from Huntsville Alabama, Ashley used Siemens’ Solid Edge software to help a veteran in her hometown. She challenged the status quo, even though she’s still in high school.

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Ashley joins other engineers who are using Siemens’ product lifecycle software to solve problems and overcome obstacles. Here are two other examples.

Those who win races. Engineers are essential to NASCAR. They work behind the scenes, and they start the race long before the flag drops on the track. In fact, there are more than 600 people at Hendrick Motorsports working to get the team’s four drivers across the finish line before everyone else.

Their engineers are using technology and innovation as their fuel to continuously redesign their cars to be faster and safer using Siemens software. The partnership between Hendrick Motorsports and PLM Software has led to 10 championships.

Those who save lives. At Zipline, engineers are using our software to design drones that can deliver life-saving medical supplies to remote locations. They are giving people who don’t have healthcare access a way to get the assistance they need.

It may seem surreal that we can now cross vast geographic barriers efficiently and economically, but engineers made it possible. They did what Ashley did when she built a lighter prosthetic for Kendall Bane: They are figuring out a way to do things better.

So how does someone still in school today realize they could embark on a career in a STEM field? The good news is that they don’t have to take a survey like I did. They can try things out firsthand. One way is to download the Solid Edge software that Ashley used. It’s an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use portfolio of professional engineering tools that gives students a chance to start developing their engineering skills today. Solid Edge, as well as other resources and software, are available to students and schools across the United States for free.

And if students want to connect with other students to learn more about engineering and STEM careers, there are many ways to do that, for example joining a First Robotics team, or other project-based learning experiences such as Greenpower, or joining a math and science club at your school. Innovation, after all, rarely happens in a vacuum. Think of what a few kids getting together and working on a problem can achieve.

When schools can take the theory to the shop floor, they give students more than just a theoretical understanding, but also real-world experience. By accessing these tools, systems and programs like Solid Edge, high schools and universities can empower tomorrow’s engineers and encourage STEM-minded students to think and use the programs that today’s leading innovators use.

The digital revolution and its advances in software, technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence may give the impression that automation will have replaced jobs by the time today’s students are ready to enter the workforce. That isn’t true. The digital revolution should be an inspiration to dream up new innovations and make a difference leveraging news technologies that can help us do more than we ever thought was humanly possible. Who knows, it may even include finding a better way to take out the trash.

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