Saturday, November 22, 2014

SC14: Looking back, but forward thinking

As I reflect on SC14, I wanted to share some observations that are bugging me. I’d love to hear your thoughts (

1. Several colleagues who worked ten or more years for public universities have left academia for the commercial sector. Sadly, their intellectual contributions will no longer shape student futures. For this reason, I think everyone should volunteer to support STEM in their local schools.

2. With fewer academics funded to attend SC, has anyone noticed an impact to the technical track offerings? How will federal and university employees keep their skills fresh if they can’t attend conferences? How soon will this skill gap impact the global workforce pipeline? Let’s use this to help frame the case for greater federal travel and conferencing support for STEM activities.

3. When they saw my program committee badge, two vendors complained to me that they swiped fewer badges on the floor this year. One said he captured 2,000 in 2013, but only 1,200 this year. He was worried his company wouldn’t send him to SC15. We need to do whatever we can to bring people into the show floor next year. Open it up to the public, if necessary. Admit local business owners, educators, school groups, and STEM clubs for free.

4. Would the natural competitive element that’s essential (and inherent) to those who function in sales roles erode the platform of collegiality and cross-cultural collaboration that SC is well known for? I’ve worked in sales—I know how they roll.

5. I fear a profit-driven culture will obfuscate the learning process. It’s one thing if a scholar prefers one solution over another, but vendors are paid to support their stuff.

6. There’s an emphasis on entrepreneurship, which is great, but I fear students are ill prepared to market themselves and their innovation. Not everyone is capable of running a business. Maybe it would be helpful to form a Rotarian chapter for STEM entrepreneurs?

7. And last, but never least, we must continue to develop a systemic effort to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups and regions so that innovation is driven by a STEM community that understands the grandest challenges faced by the world we share.

OK, time to pack. Au revoir, ma belle Nouvelle-Orléans!


Maya said...

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John Adam said...

Thanks for sharing such an informative article. I really enjoyed it. It was quite interesting to read the different perspectives of your ideas and keep updating us with more posts like this.

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