Category Archives: STEM

STEM Science Fair Projects Help Students Prepare for Real-Life Careers

Science fair projects are a great way for students to test out their interest and aptitude for a career in STEM (science-technology-engineering-math). But they shouldn’t choose just any old topic. Try to focus on projects with real-world applications that will give them some experience in a good-paying job field, like engineering. With planning and hard work, the right science fair project might bump up a student’s chances for a scholarship or Continue reading

E is for Engineering – The Best STEM Careers

2013 First Lego League Global Innovation Award winners, the NeXT GEN Team

The NeXT GEN Team won the 2013 FIRST Lego League Global Innovation Award for developing a tool to help seniors pick up small objects, such as pills, using robotic technology.

As someone with a degree in engineering, I’ve noticed a peculiar fact. In the world of STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) engineering careers appear to be the ugly ducklings of the group.

There’s a lot of talk about teaching kids to code, which falls under math, computer science and technology. There’s also a huge emphasis in the media on biotech, space science, and environmental science.

But in my opinion, the lowly engineer gets short shrift. Continue reading

Women in Science and Engineering: Fiber Optics Expert Suzanne R. Nagel

Women in Science and EngineeringIn honor of Women’s History Month, this is the third in a series of posts on some of the accomplished women scientists and engineers I have had the privilege of interacting with throughout my career. Back in 1986, I interviewed almost a dozen women working in fields related to lasers for an article in Lasers & Applications magazine.

Today I focus on another of these women, Suzanne R. Nagel, an engineer at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the area of fiber optics.

Suzanne R. Nagel, Ph.D.

Suzanne R. Nagel, Ph.D.

Without her, you wouldn’t be reading this online. No, she didn’t invent the internet. But she helped make it possible to create the first transoceanic fiber optic cable, leading to today’s high-speed data transmission that makes our world-wide internet service possible. Continue reading

Women in Science and Engineering: Flex Fuel Pioneer Roberta J. Nichols

Women in Science and EngineeringIn honor of Women’s History Month, this will be the first in a series of posts on women in science and engineering. As a woman engineer myself, and later as a technical editor and writer, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and interviewing a number of remarkable women in science and engineering whose achievements equal those of their political, artistic and pedagogical counterparts.

Today I’d like to highlight the first woman engineer I ever covered—in an article I wrote for The Orbiter, employee newsletter of The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.

Woman Engineer Dr. Roberta J. Nichols advanced methanol as the best alternative fuel for cars.

Woman Engineer Dr. Roberta J. Nichols Credit: The Aerospace Corp.

The year was 1985, and Dr. Roberta J. Nichols, a former employee and Aerospace Woman of the Year, had been invited back to speak during the company’s annual Women’s Week celebration.

Working with her Dad

Nichols’ story may sound typical of many women engineers of that era. According to the LA Times, she was born in 1931 and grew up following her father around to junkyards and learning to weld as they fixed up old cars together. Later, her hobbies included dragboat, hydroplane and vintage car racing. Happily, she was able to carry over these passions into her professional life. Continue reading