For the last few years, we’ve heard a great deal about STEM education – science, technology, engineering and math – and the critical need to encourage kids in these disciplines. In fact, the National Science Foundation has shared daunting statistics speculating that 80 percent of all jobs created in the next ten years will require math and science skills.
And if that doesn’t impress upon us the importance of kids’ engagement in STEM, we can re-watch Math, Science and the Future of Our Nation – A Town Hall Meeting (2010) and the ominous picture it paints. As the narrator warns in the first 5 minutes, “For kids in middle school today, by the time they enter the job market, it will be nearly impossible to succeed without a good foundation in math and science.” Music majors everywhere, take notice.
I recently tweeted a link to an article that seemed to suggest encouraging kids to participate in these subjects might be like ladling cheese on top of broccoli – heavily engage kids in STEM subjects by packaging the classes with things they already enjoy. And while we know that model works – parents everywhere can testify to the power of cheese – we’re collectively missing the innovation boat.
Frightening the humanities out of us will not make us better engineers or mathematicians. Isolating STEM education from other subjects to build the best and brightest can never address the broad and deep knowledge needed for true innovation.
Creativity, artistic vision, divergent thinking or the ability to communicate our ideas will always continue to play a powerful role in the innovation process. Educating for a particular skill set may only create a commodity and not encourage the broader design thinking that drives innovation. Yes, I said design thinking. Empathy, creativity and rationality, as Ms. Norvaisas would say, all sitting side-by-side.
Innovation isn’t taught through individual subjects, no matter how valuable STEM subjects may be. True innovation may best be accomplished through an holistic approach that embraces a broad range of subjects, including the humanities, as equal partners in the innovation process.
Dave Franchino, president and principal of Design Concepts, will speak at the national Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Conference April 11 – 13, 2011, in Madison, Wisconsin. Franchino will present Leveraging Innovation: How to Partner with a Product Development Firm on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm at the Monona Terrace.
The SBIR Conference includes Skills Workshops designed to give attendees the tools and the contacts they need to be successful and avoid common pitfalls. The Skills Workshop led by Franchino will share ideas and information on maximizing the powerful relationship between small business owners, researchers and entrepreneurs and a product development firm. After learning more about the strategies and tactics that form the foundation of successful design projects, attendees will be able to evaluate the risks and rewards of collaborative innovation partnerships.
To learn more about the conference, visit the SBIR Web Site.
Scott Biba, senior mechanical engineer at Design Concepts, will speak at AIGA Wisconsin, Thursday, April 14, 2011. Biba, a member of Design Concepts’ internal Green Team, will talk about the company’s sustainability initiatives and its participation in the Designers Accord.
Also speaking at AIGA Wisconsin (formerly the American Institute of Graphic Arts) will be Eric Benson, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, founder of Re-Nourish.com. In addition, a representative from Mohawk Papers will also speak sharing information about AIGA’s initiative, LivingPrinciples.org.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Brink Lounge
701 E Washington Ave, Suite 105
Madison, WI 53703
Learn more about the AIGA event and register for the evening.
We’re fortunate to have the opportunity for inhouse training sessions on tools and techniques that improve our work. The most recent Lunch & Learn opportunity was led by Dave Franchino, Design Concept’s president and principal, and explored the use of conjoint analysis as a powerufl research tool.
To help us discover what conjoint analysis can achieve, staff participated in a survey prior to the Lunch & Learn asking for our preferences on a common home appliance – the blender. Our answers provided the consumer data for the presentation, as 4 teams were challenged to select the blender features that would gain the most market share and the most profitabilty.
Watch and enjoy. Feel free to comment, ask a question or share your thoughts. We’re always eager to talk more about the techniques and tools in our toolbox.