Geek for America

Apr 3, 2014 | Posted by: Sherry Hess

Teach for America is a non-profit organization that recruits recent college graduates and professionals to teach for two years in educationally challenged rural and urban communities throughout the U.S. The goal is for its members to make an impact by helping their students to reach their full potential and become lifelong leaders for educational equality. Participants benefit by receiving a fully paid teaching position and receiving a voucher that can be used to pay for credentialing courses, cover student loads, or fund further education.

Having been an active member in the IEEE MTT-Society and also the IEEE WIE/WIM (Women in Engineering/Women in Micorwave Engineering) group for a few years now, and having listened to both men and women, young and young at heart, I think it’s time we consider a similar program.  For lack of a better campaign title, I’m coining it “Geek for America.” 

At a recent ECEDHA (Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association) conference in wonderful Napa Valley, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) was on the agenda.  Ray Almgren, an impassioned guest speaker from my parent company of NI, spoke to the need to attract more talent into STEM disciplines.  I’ve written a few blogs on this topic already but the idea of formalizing a program is perhaps what we need to do to bring more young minds and talent into STEM and in particular the microwave/RF domain. 

America needs good engineers as much as it needs good teachers.  And we really need more diversity in general to bring a more balanced perspective and different leadership methods to the table.  What can we do to make the future brighter? I believe the key to changing attitudes and encouraging men and women to choose STEM professions is with a constructive and energetic community outreach and education program.

My theory is that in order to encourage more young minds to become engineers and scientists we need to work towards inspiring them (here both men and women can help) through both a concerted communications program to foster awareness and camaraderie as well as focus on programs that tap into the “wonderment” of our career choice. Like Teach for America, we geeks, through a combination of communication, outreach, and education, can change attitudes, perceptions and more.