For me, living in Silicon Valley and working for Dell EMC has opened my eyes to the importance of a STEM education: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. For a long time I have been impressed with the intelligence of my peers, especially because I am in the minority with a “Bachelor of Arts” degree. What’s impressive about the valley is the vast amount of technology companies in a matter of miles. I was curious, so I looked up how many tech companies are in the town in which I work, and the answer is 1,104. In this area, a STEM education is crucial.
Growing up, I personally did not excel in STEM – my academic strengths were always History and English, never Physics and Math. That’s why, when I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Silicon Valley Tech Museum‘s annual event “The Tech Challenge,” I was very impressed with the students and their strengths in this area. You may be asking, what is the Tech Challenge?
This signature program of The Tech invites teams of students in Grades 4-12 to use the engineering design process to solve a real-world problem. Participants spend months collaborating and becoming deeply engaged in the challenge while documenting their progress and designs. The program culminates in a thrilling two-day showcase in April when teams put their solutions to the test in front of judges.
Although I was only a volunteer, I was able to see hundreds of children using their STEM education in an amazing aways. What’s even more exciting is that so many of these students were girls! The challenge this year was “Rock the Ravine” – design and build a device to help explorers cross an ice field with multiple ravines. It was a competition like I’ve never seen before with 2,500 students, 55 program sponsors from the valley, and hundreds of corporate volunteers. My company, Dell, is the presenting sponsor for the Tech Challenge and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved this year as the Dell company ambassador. This involved sitting in on a few board fundraising meetings, communicating about the challenge within Dell, asking for volunteers, and working with our VIP executive judges.
I’ve really enjoyed working in the technology industry because, although my course of study did not take me through Engineering training, I’ve been able to become a part of the tech community and encourage the next generation to pursue a STEM education.