Horan's op-ed piece was published in the Hartford Courant on 3 Nov. 2012, Page A9. If the above claim is accurate, it may indicate one end-result of the "standards" and "math reform" rubbish that was launched in 1989. It would have been quite informative if Horan had told readers about the extensive funding that IBM has been providing for the promotion of this rubbish.
We Must Help Students Reach Technology's Cutting Edge
By JEANETTE HORAN | OTHER OPINION
The Hartford Courant
5:37 p.m. EDT, November 2, 2012
Connecticut has been home to mechanical and technological innovation for decades, but can it continue to remain competitive? Think about this: The world's first submarine, the portable typewriter, artificial heart, sewing machine, color television, and even the Frisbee were conceived and made right here in the Constitution State.
The world may have changed significantly since many of these inventions occurred, but there is no less of a need for innovation and exploring new ways to keep Connecticut competitive. Experts agree that people with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM, are the key to our economic growth.
Just look at the numbers. In Connecticut, we will need to fill some 232,000 STEM-related jobs by 2018, according to the organization STEMconnector. This may not be easy considering that the number of Connecticut students graduating with a degree in computer science dropped 34 percent between 2002 and 2011.
Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 5 percent of U.S. workers today are employed in science and engineering fields, even as those jobs account for more than 50 percent of sustained economic expansion. China produces five times more graduates in science and engineering than the U.S., while Europe has three times as many. Four decades ago, about 40 percent of the world's scientists and engineers resided in the U.S, but now that number is just 15 percent.
What can be done?
A look at history suggests that the U.S. has never turned away from a challenge once its imagination is engaged. In the 1950s and 1960s, space exploration and landing the first manned spacecraft on the moon inspired the world and captivated students everywhere. This was technology at its best, pushing a new frontier around a common goal that was as important as it was historical. The 1970s and 1980s saw the birth and proliferation of personal computers as innovators began applying technology for productivity and entertainment purposes.
We need to renew this enthusiasm. The wired world is enabling unprecedented communication and collaboration, sensors are producing mind-boggling volumes of data that are being corralled and analyzed to improve people's lives and address the world's most perplexing problems. In order to fully realize the the goals of a Smarter Planet, a new generation of mathematicians, scientists, engineers and technicians must emerge. We can captivate young minds by assuring them that they can change the world. And they can.
For example, the world's fastest supercomputer installed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is destined to provide a 40-fold improvement in the prediction of earthquakes to help provide safe evacuation routes for citizens. Natural language technology, widely seen when IBM Watson competed on the "Jeopardy!" game show, is addressing societal challenges and taking on some of the most complex health care issues.
Technology is also being used to improve electricity and water management, solve traffic congestion, produce greener buildings and improve public safety, among countless other benefits.
New generations of supercomputers are on the horizon. Who will lead these advances and apply them to benefit society? Unfortunately, the growing shortage of IT skills leaves this question unanswered. But we can and must remedy this situation.
In Connecticut, we can start by replicating the model that has produced a strong recent increase in the number of engineering degrees earned - that is, initiating a meaningful focus on all STEM disciplines at the high school level. I live in Connecticut and nothing would please me more than seeing our state capture its full share of the economic benefits that flow from technology and innovation.
As a mathematics major in college, I stepped out into a world of growing opportunity just as the computer age was getting off the ground. Today, the opportunities are 100-fold greater. Yes, this is absolutely about jobs. But it holds even greater significance: To remain competitive globally and to improve the world through technology, we must adopt a serious and collective focus on building a strong pipeline of STEM innovators.
Jeanette Horan of Wilton is IBM's chief information officer.