Little did I know when I met Frank McBee in 1981 that he would ignite my passion for community development and education. An accomplished engineer and Austin’s first Fortune 500 CEO, Frank believed strongly that education was the great equalizer.
Due to his influence, I’ve helped several business and education coalitions become more strategic. Through the years, we’ve created a global reputation for advocating and investing in innovative STEM programming at AMD.
Changing the Game allows middle and high school students to learn STEM by creating their own digital games on social issues. Beyond STEM, they also learn teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, communications, and global awareness. Yet the students are often so engaged they don’t realize all they’re learning. The program has a high degree of interest with young girls, who gravitate to its project-oriented, hands-on approach.
The NextGen Engineer (NGE) initiative promotes multidisciplinary learning within engineering programs to better prepare new engineers to innovate and lead across the global landscape. Today, that requires both deep technical proficiency, and strong skills in teamwork, communications, problem solving, and cultural literacy. These “soft” skills are often the areas where young women excel, and this form of education is particularly attractive to Millennials and young women who want to solve global problems and leave a positive mark on the world.
I believe we turn off many potential STEM enthusiasts, because our classrooms (from middle school through post-secondary) are still structured as they were 30 years ago. Yet the world has changed radically. By providing hands-on, relevant engineering programs and curricula, we can attract and retain more men and women in engineering, so that the U.S. can remain a leader in research, innovation, and technology.