What are Tek's plans moving forward to support STEM locally, globally?
We will continue to drive the Tektronix Education Support Program (TESP) initiative to foster interest in physics and electronics within the local community, other regions of the country and around the globe.
Is it more challenging now (than it was five years ago) to find qualified candidates for entry level positions?
It has become somewhat more challenging as STEM education has taken a back burner in the last several years. We have taken actions like strengthening our summer college intern program so we can expose students to the kinds of careers we offer. In addition, by outfitting schools and university labs with our oscilloscopes and other equipment we are giving students access to the same state-of-the-art tools they will be using once they transition into the electronics industry.
What do you think are critical technical subjects for high school curriculum to include?
We can’t emphasis enough how important it is for students to gain hands-on experience that allows them to apply book knowledge to solve real-world problems. Engineering excellence is not only about number crunching and theorems. A big part of engineering life is the ability to communicate effectively and work in teams. Programs that give students a chance to work in a team setting help them to be more successful in the workplace. That’s why a lot of the support Tektronix provides to educational institutions focuses on the application of technology.
In addition, at the high school level, there should be a greater focus on skills development as opposed to specific technical topics. If you look at the pace of technology evolution, our future engineers need to embrace lifetime learning, and skills such as problem solving, more so than a narrow technical topic.
What has surprised you about this process of working with high schools?
What has surprised us is the enthusiastic response from junior high and high schools when we offer up equipment to their programs. We are impressed at how creative teachers can teach with our equipment in ways that we might not have imagined ourselves. We, along with other corporations across the country, could be and should be doing more to support our school systems.
STEM education is getting a lot of attention. No longer solely the province of discussion in industry events, STEM is now getting attention from the board room, to the White House, to the classroom. Recently, at DesignWest, keynote speaker Mayim Bialik talked about how she found her way into science, and how important she thinks it is to encourage young people to pursue their interests in STEM.