With STEM education seemingly vital for the future, we are here to discuss career possibilities that a future professional in STEM might explore.
What Science-Fiction could turn into Reality?
Predicting the future is beyond our current scientific capabilities, as the future is always going to be uncertain. We hoped to see flying cars by 2020; we hoped to see hoverboards, but neither has become a reality, yet.
It is not uncommon to see much of what was considered science fiction turn into reality, however. Now, how do we ensure that we provide the correct knowledge and understanding to present-day students so that they can design and drive the flying cars in the future?
Image: Wikimedia Commons
For starters, we can follow present trends and keep tabs on current and upcoming research innovations. By looking at a few of these trends, we can predict that driverless cars, if not flying cars, could be taking over the automobile industry in the next 10 years.
Technology is at the forefront of these innovations. Hence, in order to give students a major push towards the future, it is important for schools and teachers to introduce STEM learning as early as possible. Engaging elementary school students in STEM-based activities will be a great help to their education.
It is a good idea to organise outings and camps to science museums and science parks for young students to motivate them to consider a STEM career. Encouraging students to participate in science camps nurtures their curiosity and teaches them to innovate and create new things.
Jobs like YouTuber, Instagram Influencer, Social Media Manager, Streamer, UI Designer, etc., were not thought about in the 1990s. Even ten years ago, people were nervous about such jobs. But now, we not only see more and more people taking up such career paths, but a good majority of them succeeding in them, in some cases even overtaking more well-established careers.
So, it’s always beneficial to understand how the job market might look like 10 years from now. While nothing can be said with certainty, current research and innovation trends lead us to these 10 predictions, and STEM programmes are crucial for all of them:
We have already seen most major automobile manufacturers slowly making a shift towards electric. Also, these same companies are investing huge amounts of money is autonomous and self-driving vehicles. It seems a certainty that electric and self-driving cars are the future.
Therefore, we need students to take up STEM programmes and become engineers to build and innovate such vehicles. We need them to build software systems, AI automated processes, efficient electric engines, to name a few.
The future will likely see an influx in automated functionality. For example, ordering fast food, minor medical check-ups, buying groceries or movie tickets, etc., could all be handled by robots. But the systems that run these robots and service experiences must be designed, maintained and upgraded. Here is where an expert technician comes in, who would replace parts, fix lines of code, and test the machine before it goes back online.
Drones are slowly becoming indispensable accessories for a variety of professions. From basic tasks like food delivery, to advanced tasks like deep-sea exploration, drones have been employed extensively. Even the military is known to use drones for surveillance, data collection, etc.
So, it won’t come as a surprise if we see an upsurge in drone uses in the future. Designing lighter, more efficient and longer-lasting drones is, therefore important and required STEM professionals to implement.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
We have many movies that show humans in the future exploring the wonders of the stars and beyond. Interestingly, not a very farfetched thought is that, perhaps 10 years from now, people will be having exploratory sessions on the moon and Mars. Therefore, we need scientists and engineers working on the cutting edge of technology, to design and build spacecrafts and space stations.
We need dietary experts and specialised physiotherapists to help humans survive in the harsh environments of space. Space exploration will also need several other field experts to work together to make it a reality.
Augmented and Virtual Reality have already started to find more and more uses in our daily lives. The future is expected to radically change the way we use AR and VR to enhance our lifestyles. Computer games, education, medical treatments, product advertisements, could all be translated into the virtual world. AR and VR have already shown tremendous promise in improving the quality of education, especially in STEM programmes. Visualising objects and concepts in 3D make it easier for the teacher to teach and the students to understand.
There will be a plethora of jobs in this domain, from virtual worlds designers to avatar moderators.
With depleting conventional resources of energy, and the impact of immense pollution caused by them, we need to look for sources of alternative energy. We must turn to sustainable forms of energy such as solar, wind, water, to support our growing needs as a global population.
It has become ever more important to find effective ways to harness sustainable energy. With most non-conventional energy sources virtually untapped, the energy industry is at the verge of major disruption. The future, therefore, needs scientists to find ways to efficiently harness these energies and engineers to develop, test and deploy these systems.
3D printing has already started disrupting many industries, and will do more so in the future. The creative and fabrication industries, medical applications, home construction, and the food industry have already been revolutionised by 3D printing. The education sector seems to be next.
So, we are in great need of engineers who can develop viable solutions to make 3D printing faster, cheaper and on a large scale. We also need people who could operate, maintain and monitor these pieces of technology.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
From using cells to make parts of the human body and repairing nerves, to using nano-medicine to heal wounds, a new breed of Biotech is emerging. Present-day STEM students will have the opportunity to become specialists in this field and could be in very high demand in the near future.
Planning to add a nano-memory device to your brain to get more storage space? Or are you looking to embed your smartphone in your palm?Whatever it is, biotech engineers could be doing that in the future.
With the global population showing no signs of decrease, one very important aspect to focus on, is food. Significant research is already underway to make farms use less water, less soil and still give more yield. We need more botanists, agriculturists and engineers to create sustainable farming solutions.
This is one area where we would see the combination of all domains of STEM, namely, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to come up with newer innovations.
The future is going to be a brave new world. With more advances in science and technology, for example, cloning and robotics, we need to lay ground rules to stop people from exploiting these technologies. When it comes to biotechnology, robots, autonomous cars, smart holograms and other extraordinary technologies, we need people who understand both science as well as society.
Experts in STEM education, having a good understanding of ethics, are needed to fill in jobs as technology advocates, who can help develop laws and guidelines regarding how to proceed with the knowledge
How Can We Prepare for What is Yet to Come?
STEM is known to follow an application-based curriculum, therefore, the concepts taught here as applied in almost every scientific and industrial sector.
In order to be prepared for the future, we must understand how the job outlook is shifting, and work on the skills that future employers will be looking for. For instance:
With each passing day, we can see how the skills are quickly changing, with newer skills such as creativity, analytical thinking, leadership, active learning etc. taking the place of older skills such as manual dexterity, endurance, memory, verbal and spatial abilities, etc.
While traditional learning does not ensure the development of skills of this nature, the STEM approach allows students to learn quickly and cultivate a profound understanding by applying knowledge, principles, and values to more than one discipline in STEM simultaneously.
The idea of such a curriculum and its capacity to be interdisciplinary and to be taught in conjunction with advanced technology make STEM incredibly flexible and robust at the same time.
There are a number of ways to start preparing for the future by following a STEM-based curriculum. From opting for maths and science courses in school to participating in workshops and summer programmes, each of these ways offers certain advantages that might help young students in their future.
Summer programmes have proven to be very effective in preparing young students for a STEM-based future. These STEM summer camps provide students with hands-on experience of novel and unique research in a domain of their interest.
The UK is especially well known for having several organisations which host world-class summer schools for young STEM enthusiasts.
These organisations have collaborations with many renowned industries and state-of-the-art research facilities in and around the UK, which helps them provide students with an interactive STEM experience.
Students also get the opportunity to meet with scientists and industry experts working in various STEM fields, who can guide them to pursue a bright career in the STEM sector.
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