Most young people want to change the world, and I was no exception. I had big dreams of achievement in the area of flight, and my parents nurtured this interest by spending breezy afternoons with me at airfields and airshows.
Later, my passion and my parent’s support led me to college, where I studied aeronautics.
I knew I wanted to be an engineer because the way I saw it, engineers were the ones who were changing the world.
I was inspired by numerous examples of the contributions engineers make to our daily lives, and I continue to be awed by just how important the field of engineering is to our technology-based civilization.
This week, we celebrate the profession of engineering and the benefits it provides for society.
When I look at our modern world, I can’t help but admire the magnificent technologies that have made our way of life possible. Smartphones, GPS devices, ubiquitous network connections, HD televisions, hybrid cars, LED lights and so many other items we take for granted are the result of applying scientific theory and creativity to make people’s lives better and our world safer.
In a very real sense, our modern civilization is a gift of engineering. In the same sense that the Industrial Revolution was a gift of the steam engine and other early technologies, engineers and engineering make our world possible.
Even with all the impact engineers have on our society, there is a looming shortage of young people educated in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
More students, and particularly more girls, need to select pathways to STEM-related careers. However, on a national scale, only about 14 percent of engineers in the workforce are women.
Likewise, only about 11 percent of engineers in the workforce are African-American or Hispanic.
Can you imagine the level of creativity and societal benefits that could be derived if more members of under-represented groups were engaged in STEM pursuits?
Similar to many other companies, Raytheon has been supporting STEM education for girls and boys in a variety of ways.
To aid in the development of a pipeline of inspired young engineers, Raytheon’s Albuquerque operation holds a MathMovesU event each year in partnership with the University of New Mexico. Hosting more than 120 students, Raytheon engineers expanded regional access to critical science, technology, engineering and math resources.
Through their efforts, Raytheon engineers generated excitement and interest in careers in STEM, helping to cement the future competitiveness of the region.
MathMovesU and other signature Raytheon programs are aimed at increasing the number of women engineers – and all engineers – in our company and in our nation.
The lack of young women and minorities, and, in fact, young people from all walks of life, getting involved in STEM will continue to be of concern for future generations. Our students need more stimulating opportunities to explore math and science throughout their educational journey.
We need to nurture an environment that attracts the best and brightest minds into fields that will move innovation forward.
My message to girls today is simple: Consider a career in an engineering-related field. Who knows? One day you could change the world.