Turning the Tables

Contributed by Fang (Florence Lu), Senior Solution Architect and IBM Master Inventor, IBM Research and 2018-2019 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador

Turning the Tables
November 15, 2018

As a Senior Solutions Architect at IBM Research and AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador, I continually strive to share the importance of invention, innovation, entrepreneurship and STEAM with students. I still remember the difficulty in identifying how my dreams aligned with a degree program or a career path, so I strive to help students see the opportunities that lay beyond the classroom walls.

The growing need for STEM skills and knowledge in today’s and tomorrow’s workplace has been discussed in report after report. Many colleges and universities have taken up the challenge of preparing students for jobs of today and the future by offering a growing array of STEM courses and degrees.  However, it is still very difficult for young students to figure out what they really want to study in college, how STEM aligns with their interests and passions, and what kinds of skillsets are needed for the professions they want to pursue.

It is great that organizations, such as Mass STEM Hub, host the STEM College and Career Fair, where professionals get to talk with students about career paths in various STEM industries. What a great way for the students to get their questions answered by industry professionals, who have already had to make those same decisions!

We had many students stopping by the IBM booth during the event. Some students wanted to study computer science or data analytics, whereas others wanted to choose other majors. One student even asked about IBM’s Quantum Computing! We talked to the students about different business units and offerings we have at IBM. They were amazed that IBM is a global brand and operates in more than 175 countries with more than 360K employees worldwide. We discussed our core business units, such as Cognitive Solutions, IoT, Healthcare, Cloud Platforms, Security, Blockchain, Social Computing, Data Analytics, and Hardware Development. We explained what skills are needed in different professions. The students were very excited to hear about all the cool stuff we work on at IBM. They were thrilled to learn that they did not have to wait until after college to join the IBM team, and could not wait to apply for internships at IBM.

I also talked to the students about my amazing journey as an AAAS Invention Ambassador ! I shared with them the impact that invention can have on world, how invention can address issues of environmental sustainability and social good, and the excitement of creating something new. The students’ excitement to become inventors one day was clear in their eyes and the difficult questions they asked!

The tables have turned, and I am so happy I get to share what I have learned in the past few decades with those who will come after me. What a rewarding experience to make real positive impacts on the next generations’ development!