SAN JOSE, Calif. – Mark Sinks, a student at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., brought his TI 89 calculator hoping to get Rich Templeton to autograph it.
Sure enough the Texas Instruments chief executive was there and happy to sign the calculator. He also autographed one of the basketballs Sink’s team uses in its FIRST Robotics competition.
It was the kind of moment Templeton and many others at the annual dinner of Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) love--stoking a fire for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the next generation.
Mark Sinks (left) gets his TI 89 calculator autographed by Rich Templeton.
About half of U.S. high schools don’t even offer calculus and physics, Templeton told SIA members as he accepted its Robert N. Noyce award later that evening. “How are they going to have any fun in school without calculus and physics,” he quipped.
“The STEM challenge is not an immediate crisis—but this country doesn’t always respond well without a crisis,” Templeton told the chip executives. “If everyone here starts adopting schools in their own backyard, we can make a difference—it’s about the availability of great bright minds.”
It’s a cultural problem, said Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of the FIRST program which organizes technology competitions for hundreds of thousands of U.S. students. “I give this industry an A+ for making things work, but you get a C- for contributing to our culture,” Kamen said, using his keynote at the SIA dinner to rally chip makers to become mentors in FIRST.
“There are consequences for a world that has now so alienated science and technology and risk taking,” said Kamen who holds 440 patents. “We created a culture that is a conspicuous consumer of wealth—it’s unfair and unsustainable, so we need to get kids particularly women and minorities to do math and science,” he added.
In an effort to do just that, the SIA invited members of three local FIRST teams to their annual dinner. See the following pages for some moments from the event and a video below from the robotics demo three local FIRST teams provided during the SIA reception.