Going Back to School with STEM

Throughout my time at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the UNH-IOL, I have reached the understanding of what it means to be well balanced in my education and the importance of STEM programs in education. STEM programs allow students to look into the realms of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics beyond the definitions of the words themselves and into the real world applications of the trades. Each facet of STEM opens doors to infinite opportunities in countless industries across the globe. While it may be easy for an engineer to see the importance of STEM and the value that it has, it is difficult for a person like myself, a Business major, to see its true potential. Now, after about six months of working at the UNH-IOL, I am ready to get involved with STEM and spread the word to my fellow Wildcats.

As a Business major at UNH, I was not sure how I would fit into the technology and engineering culture of the UNH-IOL. The concept of engineering seemed so daunting to me. The complexity of it all was overwhelming and I knew that I could always count on my financial calculator to determine the Time Value of Money for my finance classes. I decided to stick to business and take on a marketing job at the UNH-IOL. After working at the lab since March, I have been immersed in countless STEM programs from teaching middle school and high schoolers how to make ethernet cables and circuit boards, to teaching preschoolers about electrical currents. On top of these programs, the UNH-IOL also offers a paid high school internship program where students get to work directly with UNH-IOL staff and students on real world projects. Interns also get to visit with companies who are involved with the UNH-IOL and create many of the devices that employees work with everyday, and in testing for our members. This is a priceless opportunity for young students to get exposure in industries that apply STEM programs on a daily basis. It shows the interns how they can get involved and how their STEM education is going to pay off in the future. The site visits were also extremely eye opening for myself in terms of business. My eyes were opened to a completely different side of the business world, one where businesses combine technology and engineering services and utilize their STEM skills to expand their business and grow as companies. Introducing STEM to students at a younger age opens up a path to engineering practices and innovation early on which will in turn lead to more STEM programs in their future as we continue to fill the engineering pipeline.

Heading into my Junior year, I plan to continue my STEM education efforts in my own academic schedule. I am going to challenge myself to take a computer engineering course and although it is not the field that I am intending on pursuing, the experience will give me many options for my post grad career. We live in a world where technology is dominating, shaping the way that the world does business, and knowledge of the  industry has immense value. STEM programs are fueling the pipeline of future engineers and it is important to spread awareness and continue efforts in fundraising to train the next generation of young tech professionals.