We humans are hard-wired to prepare the next generation to take over for us. Whether we’re teaching our children how to cook, do their laundry, and stick to a budget or sending them to school for reading, writing, and arithmetic, we seem to be doing OK, there. Developing more specialized skills, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) often require more of a focus — from both the educators AND the students.
On occasion, tech companies have jumped in to help educate the next generation, perhaps by offering significant “student” discounts on computers or other equipment or through a range of tech challenges. While ST has long championed education and STEM, more recently it has used its emphasis on Smart Driving and IoT applications to further increase efforts to support STEM education.
This emphasis on STEM is part of ST’s DNA. For many years, through its ST Foundation, STMicroelectronics has contributed to bridging the digital divide that limits the development of societies and people through the Digital Unify program; The program has served more than half a billion disadvantaged people in 26 countries over the years.
ST isn’t only reaching out to through the Foundation. The Company contributes directly by sponsoring a broad range of valuable and worthwhile activities. Recently, through The Tech Museum, in San Jose, ST sponsored the 31st annual Tech Challenge, an event that emphasizes the importance of developing engineering solutions that could be adapted for, and practical in, real life. This year’s challenge:
Design and build a device that can first, survive a 10-foot drop to a target and then deliver a payload to another target at the top of a ramp — without using electricity or batteries! Composed of students in grades 4-12, the contest includes a range of rules and specifications that would sink many commercial projects. ST supports the challenge with executive and engineering time, MCUs and other components, and funds. And the benefits extend well beyond the contest: local schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods also receive support from the Tech Museum to use education to help combat the cycle of poverty.
Another program receiving ST support for STEM centers around the World Solar Car Challenge, a biennial solar-powered car race that covers 3,022 km (1,878 mi) through the Australian Outback. In sponsoring several teams from around the globe, ST contributes MCUs, other components, and technical guidance to help budding engineers and scientists solve practical design challenges while they build, test, and compete in difficult conditions in extraordinary vehicles. While the range of conditions the teams face over the race’s 4 or 5 days make finishing a victory in itself, teams co-sponsored by ST have performed well and many students from the teams have gone on to careers in the automotive industry.
One of the newest STEM-related activities for ST is a collaboration with Professor William Kaiser, at UCLA. A UCLA Gold Prize winner for teaching excellence, Professor Kaiser has partnered with ST to create an “Introduction to Embedded Systems with SensorTile.” The freshman-level course, now available online to all, combines ST’s unique SensorTile with the practical experience of designing an embedded system using a range of sensors operated by a high-performance microcontroller to produce the thrill of design development and success. The value of this course is evidenced by Professor Kaiser’s efforts to further partner with ST to build a Senior Capstone course; This course will be announced soon.
This list is certainly not meant to be comprehensive as ST also participates in a range of hackathons and design challenges worldwide. One recent challenge took place in Taiwan, where ST lent its products and expertise in MCUs, Sensors, Connectivity, and Power and Power management for the IoT, to participants.
From all of this, ST has two goals. As a leader in Corporate Responsibility, ST recognizes the need to develop the next generation of technology literates and innovators. And, with an outstanding portfolio of products and technologies that fit at the center of Smart Driving and the Internet of Things, ST aims to expose this next generation to its leading edge offerings.