Why are advances in the STEM field so important? The study and practice of STEM builds critical and creative thinkers, pushing boundaries and coming up with the most cutting-edge technology imaginable. STEM covers a lot of different disciplines.
The Florida Department of Education defines STEM as the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into learning. However, for careers in STEM, the integration isn’t so cut and dried, although the four branches do take inspiration from one another to build new innovations. STEM careers include everything from discovering new technologies to running an engineering company to developing new medications.
If the COVID-19 pandemic drove anything home it was how powerful advances in science can be in the modern century and the impact they have. From developing vaccines and medications to coming up with automated ways to serve consumers from afar, without STEM, the pandemic would have been much more difficult to navigate.
How Will STEM Careers Affect the Future?
Experts point to how vital STEM education is to drive advances in medical research, city infrastructure and developing solutions to problems. In the past, there have been fewer women in the field, so current females in science, technology and engineering must lift up the next round of innovators.
What are some ways advancements are paving the way for the next generation?
1. Opening New Doors
Historically, STEM careers leaned toward research and development in science and technology. However, today’s STEM workers have branched into other areas where their knowledge pays off. You won’t always find a STEM person in a laboratory or behind a computer screen.
One example is CEO STEM workers, such as working as a business unit manager or managing a team of next generation employees. Those who are stretching the boundary today are opening up opportunities for future graduates to do so.
2. Solving Real-World Problems
People are starting to see how effective STEM knowledge is as those in the field solve today’s biggest problems. Probably the most striking example was the race to create vaccines for COVID-19 and stop the rapid pace of the virus’ spread.
However, there are many other areas where STEM careers solve pain points and encourage even more workers to enter the field. For example, more people wish to shop online but inventory systems can’t always handle the volume. With the use of big data and machine learning, developers can come up with programs that do most of the heavy lifting.
3. Pushing Toward Success
When today’s STEM workers push toward a big solution or break through time limitations, they open new doors for future STEM candidates. For example, the speed at which new medical innovations emerge are often unheard of.
If a big project requiring coding and new software becomes a team effort, it spurs others on the project to try harder and do more.
4. Collaborating With Others
Innovation often requires working with people from many different disciplines, even those outside the STEM field. Projections by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics puts STEM growth at 8% by 2029, compared to under 4% for other occupations.
The more brilliant minds bounce ideas off one another, the bigger those ideas become. When the first surgeon finished the first procedure to separate conjoined twins, he opened the door to additional efforts for other pairs.
Collaborating with others helps advance the STEM field like nothing else. Embrace the opportunity to work with all types of people from all career paths. Doing so helps future generations as you drive discovery and innovation.
5. Mentoring Future Leaders
Excellent mentors foster talent and show future leaders how best to spend their time. There are a thousand little tasks you can do more efficiently, but if someone doesn’t share their knowledge, the newbie will never know.
Imagine learning from the success of someone else and avoiding the mistakes they made in the early days of their career. Each new generation has more knowledge than the one before. Make sure you find a mentor in the beginning and become one after you’ve gained experience.
6. Creating for the Sake of It
Those in the STEM field have a lot of passion for what they do. Data, numbers and formulas will never be as effective as someone completely determined to try everything until they find the right solution.
Scientific research isn't easy. Researchers must return to the lab over and over and deal with multiple failures. They might find one component but not the complete solution. Someone else may even take credit for their hours upon hours of hard work.
Passion drives them to continue and also helps inspire younger STEM creators. When others see your passion, they’ll step up to help you break down barriers.
7. Rounding an Education
A focus on STEM education helps make for a better balanced employee. Even if a person goes into business, having a basic understanding of the principles in STEM gives them a chance to set smart goals and work methodically toward an end.
As schools turn more toward a STEM-based education, expect future employees to be far more comfortable with the methods.
There is no cap on advances in technology. Each new generation seems to almost speed up the discoveries. Tomorrow’s innovators will go to heights today’s never imagined. However, they couldn't get there without the inspiration and hard work of those who went before.