Let me see if I can help you visualize the issues stated in "How to STEM Employment Concerns" (August '11, www.ControlDesign.com/STEM0811). First and foremost, the concept of mainstreaming is killing this country's educational system. At the very least, we need to identify students with substantial potential and get them out of these mainstream classrooms.
Also, young students don't get reinforcement at home. There is little or no pre-K preparation for those outside the income thresholds. Kids do not get the individualized attention they need within the educational system, either. With increasing class sizes and numerous discipline problems, teachers can't possibly deliver the necessary quality.
Using a computer to teach is not a technology development program. Putting a robot kit together is not engineering unless you discuss the intricate details of robotics (motion, sensors, electronics and programming). Lower grades need to get out of the "technology education" idea and focus instead on the fundamentals. We need to take everything we've learned about educating children in the past 30-40 years and throw it out.
Teaching of critical skills should not be taken lightly. Advanced math is essential to engineers and technologists. Calculus and differential equations in late junior and senior high school is a must for engineering and technology students. Any sign of advanced knowledge must be determined early so these skills can be taught, but our education system is not capable of this.
Senior Engineer, Generation Services,
Cleco Power, www.cleco.com