At Dassault Systèmes, the future of STEM education inspires a lot of passion amongst our employees. From providing millions of 3D design software licenses to educators, to helping women of all ages capitalize on their interests in STEM fields, including women as far away as Rwanda, there are major efforts underway to capture the interest of tomorrow’s engineers.
One of our most prominent and effective initiatives for the advancement of STEM education comes from our partnership with STEMconnector, an organization that connects more than 5,000 businesses, government organizations, and education institutions that all share an interest in the creation and promotion of STEM initiatives.By acting as a central hub of information and networking for the STEM community, STEMconnector helps coordinate efforts of the government and the private sector to boost STEM education across the United States. Last week, Dassault Systèmes took part in one of the organization’s premier national campaigns: STEM Career Accelerator Day 2015.
Now in its second year, STEMCAD2015 sought to connect thousands of students in grades 8-12 with dozens of high-tech companies, so the students would get a first-hand understanding of the jobs filled by STEM professionals. In fact, more than 15,000 students nationwide participated in STEMCAD2015, giving them a glimpse at the career paths a STEM education could offer, and encouragement to pursue their interests in math and science.
At Dassault Systèmes’ campus in Waltham, we hosted a day-long event with groups of students from two schools – Lexington Minuteman High School from the town next door, and Archimedes Academy for Math, Science and Technology Applications, all the way from Bronx, New York. The students toured four “activity stations” throughout their visit, each one offering a unique and hands-on look into the world of STEM.
- First, a round-table discussion with Ret. Admiral Clarke Orzalli, who described the vital role that STEM-educated individuals play in solving the most complicated puzzles in the world. For instance, the daunting task of designing and maintaining a fleet of metal boats to float in a sea of highly corrosive salt-water is just the beginning of the myriad technical challenges encountered by the U.S. Navy.
- Thena discussion and product demo from one of our SOLIDWORKS design experts, who talked about the role robotics and 3D printing will play in shaping our world in the coming decades, and the vital role that STEM education played on his own career path.
- Next, students were dazzled with a trip to our CAVE, an immersive 3D environment where they saw cutting-edge 3D simulation software in action. The students took a virtual tour of a beating human heart, seeing the same scientifically-accurate simulation that’s currently being used by doctors and companies across the life sciences industry to speed up the treatment of heart disease.
- And finally, our visiting students met with college students from the nearby Olin College of Engineering. Not only were these college students able to give the visiting high school students a glimpse into life at a technical university, but they also got them engaged in a hands-on project building “hoppers.”The students were given an assortment of materials – including cardboard, rubber bands, masking tape, etc. – and told to design a device that can propel itself. This project mimics an introductory project that’s common to Olin students as they study how insects propel themselves and apply that knowledge to mechanical design. A few highlights below show the fruits of their labor.
At the end of the day, almost 75 students left Dassault Systèmes’ campus with a better understanding of what a STEM education could mean for their future. Our goal was to help inspire a roomful of future scientists, mathematicians and engineers…and if we’re lucky, maybe some will join the Dassault Systèmes team in a few years. Stay tuned for STEMCAD 2016 next year.