Mich. -- The 2013 SAE Foundation Annual Celebration Dinner
at the GM Technical Center in Warren last Wednesday was a great
example of how engineers “get down.” Before a fabulous
dinner of filet mignon and two gargantuan shrimp (imported from
Jupiter?), the open bar produced an atmosphere of joviality, gregariousness,
school students had a great exhibit of miniature drag race cars
that tested one's hand-to-eye coordination. After a Tanqueray
and tonic and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, my reflexes were
a bit dulled, but it was still fun to be a bit faster on the trigger
the third try than on my first two times doing a simulated start
of a drag race exercise. Later, I watched two miniature dragsters
race down a 50-foot track at an incredible rate of speed. It was
something the SAE Foundation must've been elated to feature at
the event, for it highlighted the theme of the entire evening:
the dire need for the automotive, and the mobility industry itself
to continually replenish itself with the fresh blood, sweat, and
brains of a new generation of engineers.
only be done with what they call STEM education, an acronym for
science, technology, engineering, and math.
GM's Senior Vice President for Global Product Development, received
this year's Industry Leadership Award, and mentioned in her acceptance
address that only 5 percent of all college degrees awarding in
America are engineering degrees. In Asia, she continued, only
20 percent are such.
Topel, President of IMPACTinsights spoke to me during the mixer
before the dinner and had this insight about the future, "I
believe that the largest component of continuous innovation is
the culture that a company has to adopt an environment for open
collaboration. I can only imagine that if children start out at
such a young age thinking in terms of ideas and how they can make
those ideas happen it can only lead to true competitive success
in the future for American Corporations."
is quite right. We mustn't underestimate the creative energy of
children, and someday, some of them will be the engineers and
other innovators of the future -- but only if we don't give up
them, making sure they receive a quality education and listening
to them when they have ideas, and helping to implement the best
may come a day in 2174 or 2223 that we have to go back to Flintstones-type
cars if STEM education is not adequately encouraged in K-12 seemed
to be the underlying fear of an otherwise festive evening.
awards went to the GM Foundation, Neil Schilke of Schilke Systems,
Kaustav Sinha, Ph.D. of Dow Chemical Company, and Adam Timmons,
Ph.D. of Chrysler. Whoever arranged the flowers on all the tables
should have gotten an award, too. The hydrangeas were huge, and
the vases were beyond gigantic. It made for a festive atmosphere
during the awards ceremony.
if you have a child, encourage them to be serious about STEM education.
Use drag racing cars, and rockets to Pluto. Science can be fun
if it's taught rightly. The world depends on how well we teach
our children. Make them set their iPhone down now and then. It's
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