• Jun 14 2013: I am a mechanical engineer, and I would not work in the fossil fuel industry.
    This is a conversation that my wife and I have had, and we are in agreement that it is against our values.

    Aside from my personal reservations, it's clear to me that kids don't play the same way anymore.

    When I was young, I played a lot with LEGO, and they were bricks and other basic shapes. I would build things and make up stories.
    Now, when I look at LEGO, the stories and the characters are pre-made. The shapes are very specific, and are much less universal. They don't require as much imagination. But LEGO remains one of the best kids' toys available.

    When I was young, one of my neighbors had an Atari video game. I remember watching their family play 4-way Pong. It was social interaction.
    Now, I see kids with headphones, playing games or texting, without the social interaction, where the games have simple, immutable stories.

    When I was young, I would go play in the woods with my friends, and build forts, or trails to ride our bikes.
    I don't see kids in the woods anymore.

    So, Remy, to answer your first question, today's students don't want to become engineers because they are not imaginative in the same way, they are drawn to simple stories with a punchline, and they are afraid to get dirty and work with their hands.

    For your second question, youth unemployment is at an all-time high. There is talent out there, if you're willing to train them. But those people are also globally aware. If Shell were to make real, sincere progress on making energy without dinosaur juice, or real reductions in environmental impact (could Shell go carbon-neutral?), or maybe ISO 14001 compliance, then you would see a REAL change in your corporate image.
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      Jun 15 2013: What you're saying is completely true Kevin, things are not alike and they will never be. This coming generations are totally different but we can't assume - just because of they're totally different - that this difference is negative it could actually have some negative side, but if we look closer, clearer and deeper we can see they're innovators, they're coding from the age of 9, secondary school graduate are CEO's of a companies of software companies ( I read this few months/years I believe), they're enjoying their own way of doing the stuff, they're not avoiding Engineering they're probably looking for the updated version of it, where everything is fully automated. They're probably getting the best out of us, involving and associating to make it even better. I believe.
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    Jun 16 2013: It would be fruitful, I think, Remy, if you were to indicate in some way whether you are reading the posts people contribute to your thread here and whether you might share what you have learned from these posts with anyone else at Shell.
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      Jun 16 2013: Hi Fritzie, I'm sure we'll hear from Remy soon. He may be with family today as it's a special day for some. In the meantime, as part of the TED Partnerships team, I assure you that our team and the partners who participate in these conversations read every comment our users post and are always fascinated with the insight and knowledge-sharing that comes out of the TED.com community. Thanks for being such an active participant, and for all the time and thought you put in to your contributions.
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        Jun 16 2013: Thanks, Shanna, for taking the time to share this information with the community who participate here. I think you can see in the many posts in the thread that people are concerned they are perhaps not being heard as they reply in good faith to the question at issue in the thread. I am sure everyone understands that a father might not respond on Father's Day.

        I think people who think about the question and reply want to know that "the partners who participate in these conversations read every comment our users post."

        This is important information, as respondents have no way of detecting this themselves.

        In terms of myself, I only want to help people get value from our conversations here.
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          Jun 16 2013: And thank you again Fritzie for your time and contributions. We have the same goal - to ensure that these conversations are meaningful and valuable to everyone who participates. This platform is so critical to the TED.com ecosystem and gives us a way to hear from some of our most active and involved community members. Please keep sharing, and know that your input is incredibly important to us, both to the partners who participate and to the TED team.

          And on a personal note, if you'd ever like to share your thoughts about the partner conversations you participate in, I'd love to hear from you. Just shoot me a message through the TED messaging system. (That goes for anyone else here who reads this message as well!)
      • Jun 17 2013: Shanna thank you for your words.
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    Jun 16 2013: Some students remember the day their engineer Mom or Dad came home and announced their employer was downsizing. Lots of folks had their landscaping cared for by former engineers. Many former engineers took-up a trade. Many more wallowed in the quagmire of the outplacement process. I think such memories have influence upon career decision making.
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    Jun 15 2013: Re: "Why don’t today’s students want to be engineers?"

    I don't know. Maybe some don't see engineering it as a noble calling, just another way to make a buck. Combine that, in the United States, with a government that only pays lip service to education and it is not a surprise.

    Globally, though, I would bet the numbers of engineers has been going up with the ascendance of China and India

    I would prefer to see talent, scientific, mathematical, and engineering, going towards solutions to our global problems rather than to feed the bottom lines of financial institutions and oil companies.
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    Jun 14 2013: There was a very interesting talk this morning at TEDGlobal by Eben Upton, the inventor of the raspberry pi computer. He echoed the theme of this discussion, saying that at Cambridge University the computer science department has noticed a large drop in both the number and ability of school leavers joining their courses (computer science) compared to the 90's. They attributed this largely to the lack of an equivalent Atari or BBC Micro computer that students and kids could be tinkering with, and so this became the inspiration for the raspberry pi, to provide the same programming access to students now as they had 20-30 years ago.

    Seeing how tech is so cheap and accessible now, I'm seeing and hearing really positive stories about putting these resources into kids' hands to explore and build as they wish. I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about this after this week's TEDGlobal event.
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    Jun 11 2013: "So how do we ensure that talent keeps coming through the pipeline?"

    Because the pipeline is currently choked up with the kind of oil that is becoming increasingly filthy, unethical and disrespectful of the Natural Environment.
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    Jun 18 2013: Fellow contributors, I would just like to take the opportunity before the conversation closes to thank all of you for engaging in the discussion and for bringing your unique ideas and perspectives to the table.

    I personally have learnt a lot through this forum and hope that others have too. I can see that this topic is clearly one that people feel passionate about and can see the need to bring it to light and do something about it rather than purely for discussion purposes. From my personal side, I will make a pledge to continue to visit local schools, and will take with me the following learnings from this conversation:
    - how can I engage more with the teachers
    - how can I best portray the STEM subjects in a fun way that connects to students (of both genders) in a way that they can get excited about
    - how can I contribute to establishing 'role models' advocating the STEM subjects for students to look up to

    In addition, I will use the discussion points from this conversation with my colleagues who are in direct support with recruitment and STEM initiatives that Shell can contribute to.

    Lastly, I would like to thank the TED organization for providing the platform and support in holding this conversation. The work that you're doing to spread ideas is a major contributor to promoting the very subjects that we've been speaking about here.

    Thanks again everyone,
    Remy
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    Jun 18 2013: One thing you'll find in the American education system is that college instructors are often woefully undertrained on how to teach. If someone has a Master's degree or Ph.D. they are considered qualified to teach. First, an advanced degree is no guarantee someone understands their field. It's only a guarantee they've jumped through the necessary educational hoops to have earned the diploma. Second, even if one is highly skilled in their field that doesn't mean they know how to teach. Teaching is something that tons of people do, but only a few are really good at it. It's a specialized art that requires thousands of hours to master.

    I learned most of what I know just on-the-job and by talking to students. I was thrown into classes and basically just given a syllabus, textbook and wished the best of luck. Some of the classes I shouldn't have been teaching. But, according to my degree I was qualified and the school I was working for at the time kept faculty to a minimum and almost everyone was part-time.

    Part-time! Now, there's something to consider. Each 10-week terms I was teaching five or six four-hour classes. So, I was spending 20-24 hours on average in the classroom. That didn't include prep time, grading time and time for administrative tasks. The school was running five 10-week terms a year. So, I was a full-time instructor on part-time pay with no benefits. I was also working another teaching job generally teaching three online classes each term--again, part-time with no benefits. I never had time to evaluate what I did. I just frantically moved from one class the next. It's no wonder teachers get burnt out and leave!
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    Jun 17 2013: Remy--I don't think students should study math. Okay, now I've grabbed everyone's attention. Next, he's going to tell us we shouldn't teach English. Correct, that is what I would say. So, let me explain what I mean by not teaching math or English. In our education system we've taken knowledge and the application of knowledge and broken it down into distinct, artificial categories. We have a math class, an English class or a science class. Everything is in its neat little box and detached from everything else.

    This creates some huge problems. First, in the real world problem solving often requires interdisciplinary thinking. One problem may require me to apply math, writing, art, science or other disciplines. So, why are we teaching things in dissected little boxes?

    Second, think how things like math are studied. We're dealing with some unknown train leaving New York at 40 mph and another unidentified train leaving Los Angeles at 60 mph and want to know when the twain shall meet? Who cares and why should they? It's not connected to anything that has meaning to the student or instructor. What happens when a mental discipline is detached from meaning? We go through the motions--emotionally detached from the process. It's just a mental chore to be completed.

    Now, think about something you love. Wait a tick? Isn't love an emotion? Or, hate? Or, joy? If something moves us emotionally we cant' stop THINKING about it. The heart is the engine of the mind! So, I'm not a big fan of breaking everything down into discrete disciplines.

    I hope you can see where I'm coming from. Should we teach and should kids learn math? Of course! But, it shouldn't be in the detached, sterile environment of an hour-long block called math class! Until math is taught in a way that connects to real world applications that students care about we're going to have difficulty teaching it. Once we start to teach it in real-world, emotionally-engaging contexts people will learn and love it!
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      Jun 17 2013: Brett, I find it really interesting what you've said and your 'radical' approach to 'teaching' math. I have to agree that putting subjects into discrete disciplines does isolate them, and opens up the opportunities to arise such as "I'm only good at English, and can't do math." I think it's a something we can aspire to reach in the education system, however not something I've come across before. Do you know of a system which encompasses this 'radical' approach. If so, I'd very much like to hear about it!
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        Jun 17 2013: Probably the best single source on this for your bookshelf is the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, edited by R. Keith Sawyer. Several decades of experiences in this sort of authentic, situated pedagogy are described by leading teacher-researchers in the field. ISBN 0-521-60777-9.

        In terms of key words, this has for the last few decades gone by the name Project-Based Learning. There is lots of material online in this area.

        You or others at Shell probably know about FIRST Robotics and Science Olympiad both of which are national programs . FIRST almost always needs engineers from local firms to mentor teams and fund materials. Around here Microsoft and Boeing have definitely been involved in these as well as engineering professionals from smaller firms.
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          Jun 17 2013: Remy & Fritzie: project-based learning is one way such a teaching/learning paradigm is applied. This really isn't a new idea. Think how teaching was done long ago. A student would be trained by a master and it would be based on hands-on, real-world learning.

          We also need to look at the fundamental similarities between disciplines. For example, you mention someone who is good at English, but bad at math. Consider the two subjects. Both are languages that require the use of symbolic interaction. Both require the use of logic. Both require forming arguments--think about geometry proofs or a persuasive essay. Great mathematicians are extremely creative people. And, so are great writers.

          Underlying both disciplines are creativity, critical thinking and the ability to make logical connections. While the artwork of a great writer and mathematician looks much different, the mental brush strokes underlying the creation of those works of art bear striking similarities.
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          Jun 18 2013: Thank you both Brett and Fritzie for this thread. You've highlighted some novel (from my view) methodologies and resources which I will certainly pursue.
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        Jun 18 2013: I am glad that you found some of what you were looking for.
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      Jun 18 2013: You are right. None of it is new at all. Pedagogical strategies tap into opportunities for such 'transfer."

      One classic in which this is laid out is Jerome Bruner's 1960 classic The Process of Education, which is the first reading a lot of us have been assigned in our teacher training ever since.
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    Jun 16 2013: Hi everyone, and please accept my sincere apologies for not replying over the weekend. I’ve been without access to the discussion forum and will do my best to reply to posts first thing tomorrow morning.
    Please continue to use the discussion forum as it was intended, and thanks to everyone for contributing thus far.
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    Jun 16 2013: We need to get children interested in these subjects early on. Hosting events at schools is one way to influence our youth in this way. It's a matter of creating real passion for these subjects. That shouldn't be too difficult as science and technology are interesting, even for kids.

    Companies that want innovators need to help plant the seeds of innovation. It is not enough to rely on society to produce such interest. It just wont happen that way.

    Many bright minds may feel that careers like this are out of their reach. It's important to show them the path, not just talk about how interesting it may be. Kids need to be shown the benefits of such careers. If you can get a young mind hooked now, it will produce that passion these jobs require.

    Another problem is the modern family. Some of these kids are burdened by all kinds of environmental factors. Programs after school that promote these subjects is not a bad idea. Get them involved early and watch them grow into innovators.

    We also need to educate the parents. Teach them the possible pathways for their children. Workshops, science clubs, and a solid marketing campaign wouldn't hurt either.

    Make these careers something kids can touch now, not something they think is reserved for genius minds or rich kids. Making these paths more clear can have positive impacts on the number of students selecting these careers.

    We need programs that facilitate this passion. Something a child can get into now that promotes this choice.
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi Henry,
      Thanks for your post - you’ve raised some interesting points here. Do you have some experience with the types of initiatives you’ve mentioned? Perhaps you could share some of your learnings?
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    Jun 16 2013: Hi Remy, as instigator and initiator of this thread/post and in consideration that individually you are representing a Global Brand, I wonder, is this something that you are managing alone or are the replies/communications something that is being done on a team/collective basis or are they solely on your own?
    The significance of this questioning is so that I am better able to contemplate the replies or lack therof to posts that have been made via this forum. Posts here do not come much more aligned or targeted/qualified in terms of a focus group and in my opinion thereby necessitate a much more aligned company involvement in tendered posts here, so that the conversation thread can be more formally/scientifically as well as group interaction co-ordinated to better take advantage of FREE consumer inputs from a socio demographic that is most likely best placed to sagely advise company advantageous ways to move forward!
    For example, you have not acknowledged one of my posts which I have put considerable thought and I thought insight into and as such your brand is diminished in my opinion , for the reasons I have mentioned above.
    If you are going to post as a global brand in my opinion, then you need to be able to act as a global brand that can speak to a global audience without alienating it's audience!
    There is waaay much more to operating a business than any one individual can appreciate and it is only thru a group/effort that it is practical for any real traction. I do appreciate that your heart, Remy is in the right place, however In my opinion, this endeavour is something best attempted with a company wholistic approach, so that everything is covered and incorporated, so that one individual alone is not trying to cover all the bases.
    All the contributors here are individuals, however Shell as a company is not, as such I think the company really needs to become very much more actively involved in posts here to validate our support and that of the brand TED! : D
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      Jun 16 2013: Time Traveler, I think typically when there is only a small audience in question, a company might well designate an individual to represent it for the purpose. There are only fifty or sixty posts here in nearly a week, right?

      A week ago when a hotel chain sponsored a thread about global businesses engaging locally, the single designated spokesperson participated actively. I don't believe that firm designated more than one person for that role and it worked fine, I believe.
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        Jun 17 2013: Hi Time Traveller/Fritzie,
        As I hope you’ve seen, I was unable to reply to posts over the weekend, and hope that you do not see this as a lack of engagement/interest from my part.

        As a petrophysicist and a technical professional, I do not represent Shell’s wider business so am unable to answer some of the points which are being raised. But I really do want to talk about this education issue so if anyone's got a question about engineering or petrophysics and studying either of the two, I’m all ears!

        In answer to your other question, Shell’s communications team is providing me with support – for example where I’ve been asked about related Shell initiatives – e.g. our recruitment - which I am not involved with in my day-to-day role. What I do see in my current role is that each year we take on a number of graduates through internships during their university courses, and others once they have finished their degrees. For the last 2 summers I’ve seen interns number 10+ in a department which only comprises of around 80 people. Many of these interns go on to hold full-time positions after their internships in the company.

        The conversation so far has raised some very interesting insights which will be shared with my colleagues, and particularly those in the UK who work with schools to encourage interest in the STEM subjects. I’d like to hear from others as to what methods they’ve found to be successful at approaching this subject. In the spirit of TED, sharing ideas can be a fruitful process!
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          Jun 17 2013: Thank you for taking the time. I am sure those to whom you reply appreciate your interest in their thoughts on your question.
    • Jun 17 2013: As an ex-Shell Techie (CIO in Shell Renewables circa 2005) I found this to be a common problem in Shell though probably not uncommon in other large brand companies. Their internal PR and 'outreach' capacity is massive and rivals some of the best Madison avenue ever conceived. It is also often out-of sync with itself and puts insanely massive amounts of resources in one area to no avail while other good projects wither for lack of minimum resources. I absolutely guarantee you Remy had to go pretty high up to get this shell branded forum approved though more likely he is merely playing a role Shell asked him to play.

      I'm sorry people-- but consider just for a moment-- do you think Shell is really interested in raising the number and quality of people seeking engineering jobs for the good of the planet or perhaps just asking some of the smartest people in the room to give them insight on how Shell can get what it needs.
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    Jun 16 2013: Shell employs approximately 1,500 geoscientists worldwide. Approximately 300 geoscientists are based in the United States, and over 90% of the geoscientists have a MS or PhD degree.

    As a result of fewer women graduating with Engineering degrees, only 6pc of the engineering workforce is made up by women and only 12pc are working in the wider STEM sector.

    How many jobs are out there. I saw 29 on the BrightRecruits website. Most of them were for Post Doc. Students. 9 were located in the United States.

    There appears to be a lot of competition for Engineering and Physics Students throughout other industries. How far is Shell willing to allow, Geologists and other scientific graduates, the opportunity to do their own, personal based research or research that involves some organization they belong to, on the side? Will shell offer contracts that make everything a Scientist or engineer creates in the privacy of their bathroom the personal property of Shell or will there be some negotiating room?

    With many student clamouring for freedom of information and freedom to patent their own works, how much independence and patent freedom is Shell willing to give their future Scientific and Engineering employees?

    How many Post Doc., Undergraduates, etc. does Shell need at this time?
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      Jun 17 2013: "How far is Shell willing to allow, Geologists and other scientific graduates, the opportunity to do their own, personal based research or research that involves some organization they belong to, on the side? Will shell offer contracts that make everything a Scientist or engineer creates in the privacy of their bathroom the personal property of Shell or will there be some negotiating room?

      With many student clamouring for freedom of information and freedom to patent their own works, how much independence and patent freedom is Shell willing to give their future Scientific and Engineering employees?

      How many Post Doc., Undergraduates, etc. does Shell need at this time?"
      WISH SOMEBODY TO THOUGHTFULLY ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS!
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    Jun 14 2013: I think this is a PR problem.

    In the 60's everyone wanted to become an engineer as the space race was on and caught the imagination of the young people back then.

    In the 70's it was all things artsy

    In the 80's it was about money managers

    In the 90's it was all things computer

    In the zeroes it was a public servant

    Now I would guess it would be all things green?

    You need to hook up with a PR company on this matter, it is what they do.
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    Jun 14 2013: I think the disinterest in STEM fields, particularly in the field of engineering is a futuristic expression on the part of the young minds where they see the present paradigm of STEM from a purely resource point of view. The current ecological/environmental awareness plays a significant role in this IMO. The idea that human ingenuity can limitlessly extract utility out of natural resources to feed the ever increasing demands of a life devoid of a standard of luxury is under challenge. Can it be so that young minds want to stop and ponder about the role of a driver first and then redesign the engine?

    Your question is very interesting as it includes the energy sector. I, myself an engineer, recently failed to persuade my son to go for engineering studies. As for the energy question, his response was that we already know that nature has produced a machine like a human brain that functions on energy of about 10 watts. So, he thinks, we should study that process better and reverse engineer.

    I am not not sure if we shouldn’t need to know what’s under the hood of a car to drive it. I think we already worry about what’s under the hood when we take into account the environment and the monthly fuel bill.

    I am from India and may be as a developing country it is a different mix here.
  • Jun 13 2013: So how do we ensure that talent keeps coming through the pipeline?

    you cant, they are free people and they get to choose.

    If there is a shortage, well, that speaks volumes about how they perceive the oil and gas industry, dont you think?
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    Jun 12 2013: For the most part, science eliminates the need to engage in science. It is perfectly possible to use the fruits of science without ever understanding a bit of it. Just like speaking the language without understanding the grammar or driving the car without knowing what's under the hood. Thanks to the progress in science it is possible to design a website, an app or a computer game without knowing anything about programming. We can only imagine what will be the effect of the popularization of 3D printers, when everybody will suddenly become an engineer.

    I am not saying it is bad though. By becoming simple science will atract the masses. The effect may be the same as in art - a lot of crap, but every now and then a genius will be born.
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    Jun 12 2013: You make a good point that low interest in joining high tec engineering is something we should all be concerned about, allow me to suggest 2 possible reasons for reluctance to join the Oil and gas industry:

    1. Climate change: You appear to have forgotten that we face a climate crisis. Of course we cannot switch off oil and gas instantaneously, but the oil industry seems intent on ensuring that cash-cow is milked for as long as it can extend that vision. There is an absolute inconsistency between the oil and gas industry having any long-term future (as an oil and gas industry) and us (humanity and the other species that occupy this planet) having a long-term future. Hopefully upcoming engineers have appreciated this and want nothing of an industry that if it is allowed to continue as is, will ensure we enter the next despeciation event.
    2. Corruption: I have spent a serious part of the last 15 years investigating corruption in the oil industry. Many will see this as an inevitable part of this sector - but actually, oil and gas companies are part of the problem. We are on the verge (finally) of seeing greater transparency forced on the sector through laws in the US and in the EU - though the industry (and your company in particular) has spent considerable effort tryiing to litigate these laws in the US and prevent meaningful versions being adopted in the EU. Happily, this has not been successful. This is all the more important when you consider the kinds of deals that have been put together - for example, Shell and Eni's acquisition of Nigerian Oil block, OPL-245 is a case in point. Both companies paid US$1.1 billion to the Nigerian Government, which immediately paid the same money to accounts earmarked for a company owned by Dan Etete, a convicted money launderer and ex-oil minister, who gave himself the oil block they purchased when minister. Are we supposed to accept this as credible - Shell officials enjoying "iced champagne" with Etete in lead-up?
  • Jun 11 2013: QUESTION: A conversation with Shell: Why don’t today’s students want to be engineers?

    Conversation: This is a valuable question for America going forward from this second decade of 21st Century. Thank you.

    I granduated with an electrical engineering degree and while I was working as a practicing engineer in a celulose accetate factory I attended night school at NYU to get my MBA. As an engineer I and being active in the technical professional society ieee.org , we have had deep discussion on the issue of how to address this issue of motivating today's high school and college students to consider science and engineering studies.

    It's a complex issue that will not be easily solved as new insights are needed as to how to modify the way science is tought at high school and undergrad in typical state universities today.

    But clearly educational process based on new discoveries about the way people learn is yet to be tried in pilot studies in a serious way in K12 education. This is issue of education will remain a challange as cultural change and philosophy of experimentaton in education is not easy to implement.

    As an example, one topic which I have published on the internet is this topic based on new knowledge of education that has emerged in the last decade or so.

    The title of my brief photo article is this available on a Google Search Box item for added clarity :

    Education Social Entrepreneurs Community Spirit Building Blueprint A
  • Jun 11 2013: It always looked to me the problem started much more earlier on a persons life. The stereotype that engineers are naturally gifted for maths is part of the problem. Added to the tendencies to disregard bad grades on STEM related subjects as "he/she is not good at maths, it's not that terrible". Simply put students end up believing STEM related skills are a natural talents and not to be developed capabilities. Which clearly will make students - which are not naturally gifted for this subjects or really level headed, disregards STEM careers.
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    Jun 11 2013: Thanks to all for the responses to the discussion point so far.

    I think it's important to promote science and engineering in all areas, be that renewables, medical, automotive or energy. There is an overlap of transferable skills between these sectors so in terms of future jobs, gaining the necessary science/engineering skills would benefit them all and really drive development and innovation.

    Communicating the breadth of engineering and science skills is something I'm personally trying to improve by visiting local schools and exploring the possibilities with the students. Indeed it is the awareness of these jobs which students do not know about. How do we make them 'cool' again?
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      Jun 11 2013: I think science and technology jobs have never seemed cooler and thus the great shift toward them in the choices of incoming college students. I think TED Talks provide one of the ways of communicating how "cool" cutting edge scientific inquiry is.

      Beyond this, if kids in school had more opportunity to design and build working artifacts at school- supervised tinkering, they would be more likely to develop a taste for that sort of work.
    • Jun 13 2013: awareness of these jobs?.... awareness of what jobs be specific.
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    Jun 18 2013: Go Well, Go Shell ! : D
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    Jun 18 2013: My final thoughts on the topic here, combined with some of my earlier suggestions in other posts, may offer some answers to the question, Remy.

    A radio program that I listened to last night was discussing subject material that was aligned I thought to the thread here. Apparently females, who make up 51% of the worlds population are dramatically under-represented in the engineering world.

    The culture, is very male biased/oriented to the detriment of providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for females.

    If sex sells, then engineering in this respect is clearly selling itself short. If more females were attracted to the industry, then by default more males would also be.

    If a clear change of culture was embraced and the number of female engineers was closer to their male counterpart numbers, then I believe there would be no skills shortage.

    Moreover, a female perspective also needs to be included/incorporated into projects to better balance out the viewpoints and perspectives.

    Role models are also lacking, to inspire and motivate new students to take up the discipline!

    Fundamentally however, especially with respect to a world wide blanket media coverage of global warming etc, the message needs to be as initially mentioned in your opening post Remy, along the lines of how SHELL is moving forward into the future, in terms of the energy sector.

    Keep doing the same thing and expect to get the same results. Sure, it is always easy to pick the low lying fruit but to actively engage future students, you need to be actively engaged in providing them a sustainable future! : D
  • Jun 18 2013: This is also the similar situation here in China that fewer and fewer student choose science, technology or related subjects as their majors in college. Young men are getting increasingly practical nowadays, and they believe that achieving success in scientific field is a destination which seems too far to arrive. Some kind of underestimation of themselves or unwillingness of devotion drive them to choose some plain but normal occupations after graduation.

    I'm not professional about STEM or engineering, while this topic really interests me for it is really a hot issue discussed all around. I hope I would be a little helpful.
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      Jun 18 2013: To our friends from the East (Eva and Nisarg), thank you for your contributions. Based on your posts, I found this interesting study conducted by Accenture (September 2011):
      http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Accenture-No-Shortage-of-Talent.pdf

      You've both raised some pertinent points. The study indicates that the greatest number of STEM graduates will be coming out of the emerging economies, and that this trend will accelerate over the coming years. Perhaps this can be expected due to the generally larger populations, however it also highlights the larger proportion of all degrees being studied that are STEM subjects, relative to developed economies.

      One of the main outcomes from the study suggests that it is not so much an issue of supply of STEM graduates, but a mismatch of where the demand for these individuals is located. There may exist real localized shortages in certain regions, however on a global basis there appears to be sufficient supply of STEM talent coming through. I'd be interested to hear what others think about these findings?
  • Jun 18 2013: In India the question would be "Why do today's students (all of them) wanna be engineers?"
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi ZX Style,
      I did indeed read your post from last week, and am sorry to hear that you feel neglected. You are right in that I've not been able to reply personally to each post, but let me be clear that the posts are being read and acknowledged.
      I'm also sorry to hear your friend did not have a good experience during his internship. Being such a large company, you will always find people that one perhaps may not agree with. I can only speak from my personal experience and say that I've only encountered a positive working environment so far.
      Thank you for your posts - your views are very much appreciated.
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    Jun 17 2013: I can't say that the teachers are doing much more than just being very good teachers. Most of them are very liberal about our choices. They always tell us to do what we love in order to reach a succesfull career, that even if you have a low paying job, your passion for what you do can get you very high. Also, they show their passion for the subject they teach, sometimes making the eyes of the most uninterested alumnis shine to how wonderful the matters of physics are.
    About school incentive, we've had a lecture about the different areas in the engineering field showing how the profession is like.
    Engineering has become a "fashion" around here. I live in a place called Joinville, in the state of Santa Catarina, which is an industrial city and most of the best engineering colleges are here. This can be why I see so many aspiring engineers.
    I think that the natural interest of the kids for determined fields in science along with the above mentioned is what makes them follow this path.
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    Jun 17 2013: Fritzie Reisner, Thank you for your recommendations . . .

    "Alan Schoenfeld of UCBerkeley & Deborah Ball of the University of Michigan. . . . also look at the websites for NCTM, the National Council for teachers of Mathematics, and the MAA, Mathematics Association of America."

    This is for the record. All of my posts go to my profile. So if I quote you here, I can easily find your recommendations again. They will appear on my profile (reliably). If I don't do this, I might never find them again.

    I always try to follow on the recommendations/requests I have been given. I still owe Bernard White a list of books that I've read that I would recommend to him. I am not an academic. And I am reaching back over 30 years to my undergraduate days when I argue certain points with him. Until I can get back to him with a recent book (list) that I am qualified to comment on - I cannot respond to his comments. Not when he's made a request that I cannot (yet) respond to. That is my feeble but earnest attempt at academic integrity.

    He's a really smart guy. And he's not he only one here on TED. I am fortunate to have this opportunity to observe the thoughts of so many smart people. So Fritzie, thank you for your guidance on this issue in particular.
  • Jun 17 2013: We're dealing the an issue of why aren't people interested?

    When politicians and environmentalists stop making the Oil and Gas industry the "catastrophic anthropogenic global climate change" scape goat, we'll see more people interested in industries that will make us independent from foreign oil.

    I realize this is an oversimplification, but when american industries are being punished in the arena of public opinion, it's no wonder why our children don't want any part of those industries.
  • Jun 17 2013: Remy, thank you for your reply to my comment on teacher training.

    There are many many issues that affect teacher training.
    Everything from funds available for this purpose.....to time availability....to the personnel to do the training in the first place.

    I do not know if in your country these things are an issue.
    In my 25+ years of teaching, there have been few excellent professional development courses.
    The best ones were held during the summer on consecutive days and lasted 3-4 weeks.

    But in my opinion, once the teachers get back to school, alot of the information is lost......so I think that changing the curriculum is also part of the solution. In other words.....a revamping of how textbooks are written might also play a role in the solution.

    In the long run, and from my personal experience, children with a deep love of Math and, later on, of engineering, will pursue these fields regardless.

    There are some wonderful contributions here Remy.....balanced views from people of all walks of life.
    I hope you are able to benefit from it. Thank you for the priviledge of contributing to your endeavor.

    Be Well
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    Jun 17 2013: I think that if we spent 1/3 of the day teaching MATH (like we teach reading in the lower grades), that we might just turn around many of the problems that are a plague to our economy and society these days.

    My Dad was a science teacher back in the early 1960s. Back then, the U.S.A. suffered from a deep inferiority complex! We were number two. And the goal of going to the Moon (as set by JFK) was critical in proving to ourselves that we were at least the equal of the USSR in technology and Science. They beat us with Sputnik. They beat us with Yuri Gagarin and manned orbital space flight. In those Cold War, post-Korean conflict years . . . my Dad was really scared that the Russians had us whipped! & THAT was a STEM issue!

    With the Moon as a goal, the Government poured in the money to get young people educated in STEM skills. Since 20 July 1969 - it's all been budget cuts! Not-so-much on STEM!

    I had to get much older before I began to SEE for myself how important Math is to all of society. As our society becomes more technologically advanced, we need MORE people who are BETTER EDUCATED in Math! For sure we do! There are too many problems challenges headed our way that can only be overcome with STEM skills! Too few of us have those skills right now. Too few!
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    Jun 17 2013: A huge issue to deal with is our education system as a whole. So much of what is done is incongruent with how we learn. Because of this, people develop mental blocks in subjects and often the worst mental blocks are in the hard sciences. I've written a blog that explains why this happens:

    http://brett-tipton.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-johnny-cant-do-math.html

    Feel free to check out my website as well: http://www.brett-tipton.com
    • Jun 17 2013: Welcome to TED Brett.

      It was enjoyable reading the blogspot entry.
      Thank you for sharing.
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi Brett and thanks for contributing to the conversation and posting links to your blog. Do you suggest that all students be required to study maths throughout their schooling years? I know that for the A-levels system in the UK, students most commonly study 3 elected subjects during their secondary education (high school). Often maths is not one of the 3 chosen subjects. The international baccalaureate is another system i'm familiar with which does require maths until graduation.
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    Jun 17 2013: Hi Remy, thanks for the Conversation here on TED. I'd encourage both you & Shell to sponsor some hard research on this subject & develop some solid data on math education. Then, you can give us a TEDtalk.

    I was privileged to teach elementary school for a couple of years, way back when. That was the hardest (and most worthwhile) job I ever had!

    Looking back, everything was READING READING READING. And reading is terribly important in ways that are critical to society. But as I contemplated posting on this conversation, I had to ask myself, "What if we spent as much time teaching math skills as we do teaching reading skills?" Or even 1/3rd as much time on math as we do on reading.

    We use reading in high school and college to teach higher order thinking skills. But MATH has an incredible facility for achieving the same goal. Logical reasoning, associations, joining/disjoining like mathematical operations -- all of this is part of how we learn to think.

    In China, Math gets a lot of attention. I suspect that part of the reason why is that learning to read Chinese takes longer to learn. Our English alphabet is phonetic. Chinese is character based and NOT phonetic. So to some degree, math gets more emphasis early on. But what would happen, or could happen here in the U.S. if Math was stressed along with reading? Might there be some truly remarkable results?

    I know that there has been formal University research into many of these questions. Maybe Shell could help develop that further -- and help us set some goals for that in a TED talk.
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      Jun 17 2013: In the US, at least, Math Education has gotten huge attention in schools for many years. I believe this is also true in much of Asia. I am less familiar with other countries.
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        Jun 17 2013: "Huge Attention," yes, but not much by way of actually changing the curriculum. I think that if we spent 1/3 of the day teaching MATH (like we teach reading in the lower grades), that we might just turn around many of the problems that are a plague to our economy and society these days.

        I had to get much older before I began to SEE for myself how important Math is to all of society. As our society becomes more technologically advanced, we need MORE people who are BETTER EDUCATED in Math! For sure we do! There are too many problems challenges headed our way that can only be overcome with STEM skills! Too few of us have those skills right now. Too few!
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          Jun 17 2013: In the US there has been significant change over the last couple of decades in mathematics curriculum and pedagogy. You are right that most schools do not spend two-thirds of the grade school student's day on it. 20% of the day would be more typical in grade school in urban areas and one subject of six in middle and high school. Students in the rest of their time work on reading, writing, science, history and social studies, and to a lesser degree art, music, health, and physical education. In many schools studying a foreign language is also considered important for kids to be ready for a global world.

          I am familiar with the formal research in math education, because it is my field.
      • Jun 17 2013: I haven't seen this increase of attention to Math here, in my local county.
        It has always been reading.....and when they have attempted to give attention to, lets, say, Science, it fell short.

        There is just not enough teacher training.......and I speak of the elementary teachers only.

        Alot of teachers struggle with really getting kids to master math concepts.
        They move on from one skill to the next without mastery.
        By the time kids reach middle school, a good chunk of them HATE math.
        And many Math teachers seeing this get discouraged, and wonder what went wrong in the elementary years.
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          Jun 17 2013: Mary M. you touch on a great point regarding teacher training, and something that was also mentioned during a TED talk last week. Perhaps greater private-public collaboration could alleviate the strains here. I will look into what more we can do with my colleagues to support teacher training initiatives...
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        Jun 17 2013: To Fritzie:

        I defer to your deeper understanding of math education. I do. And please, if you have the time & inclination, please direct me to some of the current published research in that area that you have found edifying.

        By no means do I consider myself an EXPERT in Math education. I just remember how terribly HARD it was to get a class full of 9 & 10 year-old children to understand ANY of the math concepts that I considered fundamental. It was very hard to even approach the concept of division. The curriculum I had before me had to do with long division. I had to teach long division. These kids were still getting the idea of what division is to begin with. Most had no clue as to what division really was in the first place! I had to start by teaching what it means to divide! That was hard!

        That was really really HARD! They were way behind!
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          Jun 17 2013: My favorite authors/researchers in mathematics education are Alan Schoenfeld of UCBerkeley and Deborah Ball of the University of Michigan. Both are teacher-researchers in the sense of having one foot in schools and one at university.

          You might also look at the websites for NCTM, the National Council for teachers of Mathematics, and the MAA, Mathematics Association of America.
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    Jun 17 2013: I'm in high school and there are many people that want to be engineerings. Not just because of all the "propaganda" they're making about it here, but most of them are genuinely interested in the subject.
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi Jade,
      Thanks for giving your perspective on this subject. I’d be interested to hear more about what your school and teachers are doing to promote these STEM subjects?
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    Jun 17 2013: What I think about Shell's development and Remy de Winter discussion. New wisdom is needed. I only imagine that the very new institution may reestablish the values of the fundamental professions, such as engineering, because they are rooted in their irreplaceable values. These professions shall not be mixed together with those that make up entertaining and profit "building" industries.

    I would be happy if the schools will start teaching Werner Heisenberg's superb philosophy - we shall not allow mindless industries to mass-produce what an inventor or a researcher have discovered in their labs. We do make mistakes most of the time, but the final correction comes from Nature itself. We cannot afford to make mistakes on such a gigantic scale, it would not be possible for us, humans, to fix them. We all must remember that Mass-production of any sort is always doomed to collapse sooner or later creating global mass psychosis, and scary physical destruction.

    However, creating the diversity of smaller innovative projects would teach us endlessly.
    Create ideas, invent and build very diverse small projects, sensitive to the specific local natural environment, as well as flexible and adjustable to ever changing man-made conditions (not recycling mentality). See if some of these innovative projects may be wiser than the rest. Many talented engineers and scietists will find these challanging works ultimately exciting, and our lost postmodern society will benefit from new wisdom and knowledge.

    The basics we need to learn in schools - No Profit, Technology or Innovation can be truly intelligent on their own.

    Thank you for reading.
  • Jun 16 2013: Vera, I think the distinction between computing and engineering is an interesting one. I'm getting a degree in computer science from an engineering school, rather than a liberal arts college, and I certainly benefit from having physics instead of French (pardonez moi). A number of my classmates want to go into social-local-mobile startups and build the next big app, instead of, say, finding better algorithms to optimize oil refineries.

    The problem is bigger than that, though. In the U.S., it's not just engineering but all of the STEM fields that are under attack, or perhaps neglect. We're dealing with the widespread denial of evolution or climate change, and a culture where it's acceptable to say "I never understood algebra" before looking back down at the smartphone. Consumer technology has advanced tremendously in the last 30 years on the back of Moore's law, but just about everything else has regressed. Manned space exploration is a good example: the U.S. is paying Russia to put astronauts on the ISS.

    The margin for error is much smaller in engineering than most other fields. "Right" and "wrong" are much more definitive in constructing an offshore drilling platform than writing an essay on Keats's use of symbolism. STEM also has a lot of delayed gratification, especially in today's world of video games an interactivity. Science requires patience and exactitude in a era where we hand babies iPads, where they tap everything and it all just works artificially. There are a lot of paths in STEM that do not work -- but it's so rewarding to find the ones that do.
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      Jun 16 2013: I'm immensely grateful for your comment. "The margin for error is much smaller in engineering than most other fields." I'd like to say, some of the problems are Beyond engineering fields themselves. I'd like to bring here some well known facts, for instance, in American Defense industry the majority of engineers are Chinese, though, who usually grew up in America. We can easily see this colossal difference between postmodern American and, for instance, traditional Asian mentality, the difference - in LEARNING PERSEVERANCE and staying close together as a cultural group. For the last part of this reason, my close relative who is a young blond man has refused to go to this great science college, because it was full of Asian students, to whom he could not relate. American engineering fields are filled by foreign employees, where American born engineers usually occupy only leading positions. One of the sad answers is that foreigners accept a much low pay,
      There is much more. As I have mentioned in my previous comment, the essence of this old profession is lost. The false values that the majority are buying
      are taking loud "popular" nonsense for real things. I only imagine that the very new institution needed to reestablish the values of the traditional professions, rooted in their fundamental values. They shall not be mixed together with entertaining and profit "building" industries servers. I would be happy if schools will start teaching Werner Heisenberg's superb philosophy - we shall not allow mindless industries to mass produce what inventor or a researcher discovered in their labs. We do make mistakes, most of the time, but the final correction comes from Nature itself. We cannot afford to make mistakes on a gigantic scale, it would not be possible to fix them. However, the diversity of smaller projects would teach us endlessly.
      With your ability to analyze you can change the outdated concepts - there are endless ways to do so
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    Jun 16 2013: An Engineering career is about toooo much learning and responsibilities, moreover, compared with "computing", programing, or web designing, sales of all sorts, these engineering jobs are commonly not the very highly paid jobs. Though there are some helpful computing programs for engineers, still without your good practical experience your computer-designed building or a bridge will collapse during the construction. if you, beside the "norms", do not really know well your materials, the weather surprises, environmental issues, and other unexpected stuff that might appear anytime, you're producing desasters.

    My point is that the engineering activity in some practical fields requires not only specific knowledge and training, you need a good intuition dealing with real ever changing surprising reality.

    Our postmodern society is Dreaming unaware where we really are, therefore, the majority of us spends tons of money and time on stupid but "exciting" technological toys of all sorts. To build a thing that would be functional and dependable in reality means to deal directly with real nature and its turns. It is Adventurous in its best sense. Think about great Faraday, admiring the god's nature and its endless wisdom and sophistication, from which we learn almost nothing.

    I guess engineering is one of the most exciting professions that are so mindlessly underappreciated, and often misunderstood. Shall we Wait until the human world will awake? This may take a long time.
  • Jun 16 2013: I am a student and i am graduating for university soon. In my opinion, the issue here is regarding to personal preference. In this modern world, we are not forced to adhere with our parents' choice and thus a child can set up his or her own future aspiration whether it is to be an engineer or not to be one. I am actually intrigued by everything related to science but still I am perplexed by how computer works; how binary sequences can lead to an amazing adventure games. As for myself, I really really need to choose whether taking the medicine course; since I aspired to become a doctor, or taking the engineering course. However, in the reality of mine, I think to be an engineer in the next five to ten years will be tough since everyone has been developing the technologies and soon will hit the roadblock. What will happen in 10 years time is everything could be done by programmed software, PC, robots and etc. This makes me to think twice about being an engineer; What could I invent later? What innovation could i produce when everything is simply flawless?
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    Jun 15 2013: Here is another issue raised in a TED Talk at TED Global and summarized here in the TED blog: http://blog.ted.com/2013/06/14/uncovering-corruption-charmian-gooch-at-tedglobal-2013/

    This is the sort of issue that may make many talented young people avoid the oil and gas industry and which may need to be addressed head-on

    According to the TED Blog, this talk got a standing ovation.
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        Jun 15 2013: I don't want to diverge too much from the topic at hand, Pat, but you will take great interest, I think, in two talks that I expect will be posted in close proximity from TED Global. One was Michael Porter, perhaps the best known business strategist in the world, addressing the untapped potential of markets and popular misunderstandings of the role profit-making firms can play in addressing the gamut of social challenges.

        Speaking immediately after him was Michael Sandel, also of Harvard, talking about the over-reach of markets.

        There was a short recap in TED Blog yesterday.
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          Jun 16 2013: Excellent job of diverting my point.
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        Jun 16 2013: Perhaps you should elaborate, then, on the connection you mean to highlight between the talk you linked and the issue of young people wanting to pursue careers as petroleum engineers.
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          Jun 16 2013: I'm talking about the water we swim in. There is a tacit agreement to have myopia regarding some issues and vehemently oppose others. Of course the whole thing is a fabricated straw man which clouds the issue, starting from our own artists in Hollywood co opted to help create the water that we are oblivious to.
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        Jun 16 2013: Okay. I hope Remy has an opportunity to make comment one way or another, as this is his thread..
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      Jun 15 2013: That talk was presented by my colleague Charmian. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, this is precisely why I think some will saty well clear. I also mentioned the fact that we have a climate crisis - and the inconsistency between continued oil and gas extraction (as currently envisage by the industry) and avoiding kicking off the next (probably by that stage irreversible) despeciation event.
      On the latter, as someone suggested below, oil companies need to start deploying their considerable engineering and scientific talent (not to mention wealth) on alternatives to oil and gas. Currently I don't think this is very likely as the bottom line is better served with continuation of the status quo.
      But on the former they - and here, I especially mean shell in particular - could substantially alter their stance. Ten years back, I testified in two hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington, at which Shell also testified. In their testimony, they specifically called for a mandatory disclosure mechanism to force oil and gas companies to disclose the payments they make to foreign governments. Wind the clock forward and we have just such a law in the US - it is called Provision 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act and it requires Oil, gas and Mining companies to disclose the payments they make in each country, down to a project level. But Shell are one of the key supporters behind the American Petroleum Institute's (API) law suit against the US Securities and Exchange Commission - a law suit aimed at killing off 1504. And iin the past 2 years thave played the most aggressive effort to undermine the creation of similar laws here in the EU. Shell is keen to suggest it supports transparency - but its actions suggest something else. If up and coming scientists and engineers have any kind of conscience, these kinds of activities might well put them off.
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        Jun 16 2013: Since Barney and Chris did such a horrible job with the banking industry, I'm skeptical of how their machinations will work out with consumer protection.

        As a point of reference, my understanding, is that goverment makes more revenue than oil companies from refining and distributing oil, with ZERO risk. Meanwhile the oil companies have to drill in more and more difficult environments (which really means we are paying more) and regulations to acquire the oil. This means ever greater risk.

        In my opinion the comment about "conscience" should be redirected.

        Please spare me the subsidy meme.

        On a side note I read where Calif is likely going to start allowing fracking as the state goverment will realize 24 billion more in revenue. Just goes to show that politicians are very willingly to be led astray even in the land of all things environmental.
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          Aja B.

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          Jun 16 2013: Hi folks,

          Just a reminder that the topic on hand is "Why don't today's students want to be engineers?". To further explore the politics around fracking/etc, please consider starting a new TED Conversation here: http://www.ted.com/conversations/new

          Thanks!

          Aja Bogdanoff
          TED Conversations Team
        • Jun 17 2013: Aja,

          honestly I don't see how one can separate the two.

          So if Shell Oil is involved in fracking etc, and I'm not commenting on the morality of it, just people's perceptions of it, and how it effects their choice. Equally how some may perceive this choice of students not to enter their specific industry as "Why don't today's students want to be engineers?"

          Just as much as it would as when BP had a accident in the gulf of mexico, and you'd have to realize and admit, that must have negatively effected their future employee relations. To ignore that aspect is inherently is not looking at the wider picture of what and why people are choosing what form of engineering they ARE entering.

          I think that young people are much more tech and media and spin savvy, and look very carefully at their prospective employers, as well they should, and that is an important part of this discussion. Lest we just assume the original questions assumption is just a truism with no proof.

          What I find disturbing is that comments are and have been deleted here, based on a supposition that any mention of paragraphs like the above are not relevant. They are. Because events like those disasters, in whatever industry, would clearly effect the perception of employers leading them to asking "why aren't there engineers any more."

          But like everything in this world young people have a choice, some might not like that, some might spin it, some may benefit from it, some may lose from it. But to ignore people's perception of any industry be it for example; nuclear, mining or Oil & Gas, is really missing the most relevant part of the discussion - What young people think, and deleting comments is NOT a way forward.
  • Jun 14 2013: I suspect that kids today grow up thinking that there's no problems to solve, and therefore lose interest in engineering-like stuff. A high proportion of the students I see today seem rather interested in whether they will get a job, rather than on learning stuff for the sake of understanding the stuff and maybe solve some problems. Focus is misplaced. Sure, having a job is important, but expecting to get a job because they go through a university, rather than because they learned something at the university is quite the stretch.

    I have not thought enough about this, but I suspect that part of the answer is this kind of mis-focused view of the world. There's no big problems to solve. Nothing to invent. I want a job, but could not care much about learning.
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      Jun 14 2013: Where would kids get the idea from that going to university rather than what you learn there is what matters? It is because some adults believe and transmit this message.

      Those who believe this message handicap themselves relative to those who reject such a message and actually spend their time in school focused on learning.
  • Jun 14 2013: H1-B
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    Jun 13 2013: Kids don't see the glory. We need to make the connection between superheroes and engineers.
    • Jun 14 2013: Those days are gone I think, sure from the 40's though to the 1970's that case could have been made.

      But times, values, and whats required for now and for the future have changed the meaning of what an engineer is, will be, and the expectations of those generations that are entering into this field.
  • Jun 13 2013: I guess nobody wants tos mess up with higher mathematics :-). I love maths but not the way it is taught.
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    Jun 13 2013: One way to turn students on to becoming engineers is to create a television series around/about the area you want to grow!

    For instance, with the advent of the CSI (Crime Scene Investigators) American tv series, the rate of student interest in seeking forensic science careers sky rocketed.

    In Australia, The Royal Australian Navy backed/funded a tv series called Sea Patrol which ran for 5 seasons and greatly increased applications to join the RAN.

    No doubt, another American sit-com The Big Bang Theory will also have increased interests in the areas that the series regulars are involved in!

    I liken career choices a little to the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industry (essentially products on a shelf in supermarkets), that is to say, consumers have so much choice and options, that you really need your brand (read industry) to stand out from all the other choices which are also vying for attention.

    There was one job that until a client of mine told me that is what he did, I had no idea about or ever even heard of yet alone as such could've or would've considered it as a career path for myself. He was a "Perfusionist"

    www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perfusionist‎Cached
    Certified medical technician responsible for extracorporeal oxygenation of the blood during open-heart surgery and for the operation and maintenance of ...
  • Jun 13 2013: My speculation is that a push for creating jobs in renewable energies from shell would attract interest, this could be done via internship/graduate programs. All you hear is bad news about oil/gas extraction - its in everyones minds!

    There are plenty of engineers that I have met that like the challenge but want to do something that they feel is more tangibly meaningful in creating a better future for their kids.
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    Jun 12 2013: Remy, I like to respond prior to contaminating my thoughts with other replies. I hope this is new territory. We have re-addressed American education in STEM ... why? My opinion is that we were totally embarressed at the PISA Exams when we scored in the lower third of the lower third ... not where we are used to being. I woulld suggest this is where we start this conversation. We are dedicating to STEM as a result of national pride. IMO, neither the problem or the solution are being addressed. We still honor the correct answer as the goal ... where, in my opinion, the application of the process should be the goal.

    This last occurred during the Eisenhower administration when the Russian beat us into space and we had to admit we were far behind in the skills and knowledges required in that area. We went into a engineering frenzy.

    If we changed our approach from you get an "A" for finding the answer to be "X" to showing a real world application I think you would see a marked appreciation for the sciences. As long as we continue to restrain thought to inside of the box everything outside of the box will go unexamined and unappreciated.

    I believe the talent is there ... I think the talent is smothered in bureaucracy ... textbook publishers and test developers are the power in education ... teachers are restricted in presentation and scope ... we need to re-visit the educational structure and remove the fox from guarding the hen house. Education is not about kids it is a multi billion dollar business and a union stronghold. Eliminate these distractors.

    We have the tools and the technology ... kick the feds out of the process and let the light in. Application is the answer and should be the goal. The implementation of a self paced modular competent / non competent system of progression would benefit all concerned.

    The interest is there, the talent is there ....

    With respect .. Bob.
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      Jun 13 2013: Hi Bob,
      You make an very pertinent point here which hasn't been addressed previously in this conversation. Some of what you say resonates with me to some of the TED talks presented by Ken Robinson, which you probably have seen before:
      http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

      Is it conceivable that due to the increased ease and simplicity at which it has become to create/make things as Jedrek refers to, there will be a driving force from the students themselves to bring this into the classrooms at schools? Although this still doesn't tackle the educational structure, which you refer to as the issue here.

      Do others agree that it's not the interest (demand) or talent available, but rather the educational structure that is the issue here?
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        Jun 14 2013: While there are many conversations here about education, I do not hear agreement on your final point.

        I hear a stronger sentiment that some students choose engineering and others not, but.that oil and gas engineering in particular is not in youth's dreams because it is environmentally suspect.
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    Jun 12 2013: Very interesting discussions, and thanks for the external links supporting your views.

    I particularly liked Vincent B’s link to the TED talk with the banana keyboard and, as you mention, bringing engineering into the classroom with projects and experiments that students can relate to. This type of engineering is extremely relevant in today’s ‘MakerBot’ movement, leveraging the accessibility and low-cost of technology for the benefit of educating and stimulating creative classroom sessions. In a way, perhaps the professional title ‘engineer’ is outdated and is misleading to today’s students? One of the ways Shell is trying to address this is through the Shell Education Service, by providing interactive science workshops to UK primary school children with the aim of inspiring them to pursue a career in science and engineering and not specifically for the energy industry. The intention of this conversation is not to limit it to any one industry as it is an issue facing them all.

    Regarding finding engineering jobs, it’s true that the tech scene (especially in the US) has seen a boom in recent times, with many engineering graduates seeking careers in this field (computer science, programming, statistical analysis, AI). This has largely been driven by the explosion in big data, with many companies trying to acquire and derive value from that data. It appears as if companies across many different sectors are now realising the value of this, and will be competing for the same engineering graduates to perform these tasks.
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      Jun 12 2013: Remy, I don't know if you have noticed this, but if you want to engage with participants in your thread, the best way is to use the Reply button on the comment to which you are responding.

      When you post to your own thread, on the TED Conversations platform only you are notified! We don't have a function here that alerts other participants of new posts on the thread other than those that are replies to them.
  • Jun 11 2013: We need to develop work ethic, discipline, and promote the importance of long-term learning rather than memorization.

    There is some very fierce competition to get into engineering schools, so unless you are an academic standout, it is unlikely you will get into engineering school. However, are 'A' students the best engineers? If they are not, what about increasing the length of the education process and adding some work related experiences such a co-ops, internships, and work-study opportunities to enable more students to work their way through an engineering program? At my son's graduation this year, the commencement speaker said the entering class next year has an average GPA of 3.97. That is a pretty elite group! There are probably more applicants interested, why are we turning them away? Losing interest in Science and engineering is as likely to happen to an excellent student as it is to a very good student is it not? So, one answer is to perhaps offer 5 & 6 year programs that include some work study where your academic performance determines your duration of study.

    Another driving factor is job opportunity once graduation has occurred. Do we have enough engineering and science opportunities to support more students in the field? Many companies will not talk to students unless the have more than a 3.0 GPA in engineering school. Competition is great, these schools are very grueling and getting a 3.0 or more is a real challenge. Is it worth risking 4 or more years of your and going potentially a hundred thousand dollars or more in debt, only to find no job when you get to the end of the journey? That is not a very big incentive.

    A final thought is keeping engineers in the field once they start. The government and companies need to develop engineers into key roles like systems engineer, design engineer, manufacturing engineer, and project engineer once they arrive at the company. These development programs help make transition smoother into the workplace.
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    Jun 11 2013: Here is an article about the rising popularity of engineering as a major at Brown University: http://www.browndailyherald.com/2013/02/26/engineering-gains-popularity-among-u-applicants/

    Further, there was an article in the Christian Science Monitor a few years ago saying that engineering had not been such a popular major since the early 80s.

    The most popular engineering majors seem to be computer engineering and electrical.
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    Jun 11 2013: Needless to say, it starts with education.
    You want engineers? Invest in it as early as possible!
    You want science, bring the science into the classroom with projects like Makey Makey:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/jay_silver_hack_a_banana_make_a_keyboard.html

    Innovation in governance and education are necessary.
    Fact knowledge is becoming less important as we expand our memory with mobile devices.
    Problem solving skills as making deductions, programming and proper reasoning become more important.
  • Jun 11 2013: How well does engineering pay now? And aren't big corporations bringing in outside low cost engineers from India and china, like they do in America?
    If there are no engineering jobs that pay well enough to cover higher education, that's a problem.
    That's a really tough educational program. It has to pay off.
    A lot of smart college age kids are choosing not to go. In the US they can't get out of huge student loan debt, although the right to bankrupt out those loans is provided for in the US constitution and the Bible. (The Bush administration apparently knew better than our founding fathers and god.) Do the Dutch support their schools and students?
    I suggest finding smart students and paying for their educations in return for working for your company for a few years at a slightly reduced salary.
    Are you really saying you don't know the answers to this question? I've read the comments, and I don't buy that. This looks like a propaganda question, designed to let you tell us how tough it is to keep those pipelines from leaking.
    Really, is this for real?
  • Comment deleted

    • Jun 11 2013: How about free gas for families whose kids study engineering?
      Or, University scholarships?
      • Jun 13 2013: Your asking to be deleted with an attitude like that Mary :). And that's been happening here, even the mention of the perception of (*cough*) 'buying' things/people is apparently a no, no. Just answer what they want to hear, then your fine...
        • Jun 14 2013: Now Tify, don't assume my comment was tongue in cheek.
          I am serious......as a teacher, I see alot of kids who love Math, and would be great engineers, but their parents just cannot afford to send them to university. I wonder if Shell has a scholarship program. I know in the past Toyota had scholarships....and I'm sure other big companies have some too..........hmm, maybe I'll do some digging around the net.

          BTW have you tried Ricola drops for your (*cough*)...LOL :)
      • Jun 14 2013: I know kids love math, I've mentored a few, anyway my apologies Mary that it came across to you the way it did.

        What I've seen on here is my and other peoples comments deleted. Which is really perturbing as the comments deleted, and a discussion could have been able to give the questioner some insight into why people don't join the oil and gas industry. And by gleaning that knowledge, one could have learned something. But by deletion, I'm afraid it comes over as I want to hear, what I want to hear, ie the goal is only to re-enforce one's current beliefs.

        That shows in my cynical comment, as I can see a wasted opportunity, an opportunity to go back to the office with new and valuable insight. And isn't that really the point of being here? One needs broad shoulders, to post questions and interact with the ted community, specially if one wants to gain from it.


        Mary as for the cough, thanks for that tip, but you know it's the ritalin that causes it, but soon like so many of my friends be off it.... lol
        • Jun 14 2013: I think perhaps this conversation is not for us.

          I think, now that I reread the intro, that he is waiting for the people who are at TED global to contribute to his conversation.

          He says, "Here at Ted Global".

          So I'm thinking he is in attendance, and he wants to connect with others there. And not necessarily with us here.



          Ritalin huh? Hmmm.
      • Jun 14 2013: Not for us...???

        I ask how many people at Ted Global are students? It would seem remiss and somewhat of an anathema to silence their voices.

        Ritalin .. (was a light heart attempt at humour...viz...the lol)
        • Jun 14 2013: Well, read his latest entry above.

          If you had seen my face when I typed Ritalin huh? Hmmm.....you would have realized that I knew you were using humor.....and so was I.....

          How could you not have known this Tify......???

          When in doubt, always think that what I'm saying is in good fun and humorous.
          I enjoy throwing in humor into my comments.

          So, laugh a little :)

          And, make no mistake, I was very sorry to hear your comment and those of others were removed.
          If it helps, I read them before they were erased, so I know what you said, and I empathize with you.
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          Jun 14 2013: I don't think his reference to TED Global meant he is trying to engage with people at TED Global. He can do that there, after all.
  • Jun 11 2013: Some of these comments point to the lack of understanding among students worldwide about the oil and natural gas industries. In this increasingly wired world, engineers and scientists working in oil, gas, and petrochemical industries must do a better job of explaining what they do, what challenges they face, and why their work is important to everyone. The shallow, sensational media have done everyone a disservice with unbalanced and emotional reporting about the oil and gas industry. Earlier generations were, perhaps, better equipped to seek out the other side of the story and accept that all human activity has pros and cons. I see less appreciation for balanced views in the more recent generations where the world is easily divided into good versus evil, which simply isn't true except in TV and the movies.

    Also, the engineers out there in positions of influence must also admit that they need to work in multi-disciplinary teams that include non-engineers to tackle these complex issues. Engineers of a certain era (1950 - 1970) view the world in more or less the same way, and often struggle with the human dimension of their activities. Those folks still dominate the executive suites in large corporations. Not every problem can be solved by more engineering or improved technology. STEM skills are critical, but so are other skills like communication, including reading & writing, and perhaps most important, listening. Many students don't want to become engineers or petrophysicists because they are not convinced that the companies hiring are worthy of their trust. Trust is more than math, science, and engineering, and technology.
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    Jun 11 2013: Students are looking for a future. The media has sandbagged the oil industry, since the price of energy impacts every aspect of the economy, I find it ironic that the media has done this. You have a PR problem.

    In looking for a future students are going to look at how well the energy sector pays. If the energy sector pays more they are going to have more educated workers.
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    Jun 11 2013: Really good question Remy and well asked. It is I'm sure somewhat disappointing to get such a tepid and frankly very poorly contributed to conversation.
    I think key aspects of what you have asked and said have very much been overlooked ( unfortunately). As such I hope to contribute in a positive way and perhaps then invoke greater contribution from what I have seen is a very intelligent and strong community here at TED.
    I don't believe for one second that people in the oil industry are oblivious to peak oil production. Nor do I believe that an organisation that is at the top of their game and very cashed up are fly by nighters.
    What I mean by this is clearly evident in your post, your main bag is energy! Of course oil is a finite resource.... you have even said in your own post that ..."some of the most exciting technology advancements in energy sector are no doubt still to come."
    Frankly, as TED says in it's "A conversation with Shell", it wants to engage the community in meaningful discussion on key global issues... well I think energy is pretty well up there. Oil and gas is predominately where our energy needs are currently met, ignorance of this fact does not change it. By people engaging in Science, Technology Engineering and Math, they are better enabled to enact and initiate positive changes especially in the context of spheres of influence within an organisation (read SHELL). This is change, this is future, this is todays students. If todays students don't appear in these industries, how does growth, transformation, innovation or change occur? From it's retirees?
    Working at the cutting edge of technology is always going to be cool Remy. I get what you are saying and where you are coming from. I hope my post is reflective of these sentiments.
    Perhaps, as one of the posts here seems to reflect , Remy, there needs to be some sort of marketing campaign that realigns the corporations goals with community environmental sentiment! : D
  • Jun 11 2013: I'm attending a technological University and a lot of my classmates are looking forward to become an engineer. What I find is that many of their parents or families are engineers and knowing the occupation is not a bad thing to do while me a city girl find it not so appealing. So I guess it's depend on where the area. Where you grow up definitely influence the orientation for future job and a lot of kids now living in big cities not even thought of such job as an engineer as a possibility. I guess
  • Jun 11 2013: Speaking as a young person in school, I can tell you most of my peers don't want to work for oil companies. We want to work for Tesla, Google or NASA. The only attraction oil company jobs have is they tend to pay well.

    so, "So how do we ensure that talent keeps coming through the pipeline?" (interesting choice of words there), you offer obscene amount of money, like every evil empire in history looking for mercenaries.

    You know the galactic empire in star wars that everyone hates? Yeah, you work for those guys.
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    Jun 11 2013: In a recent conversation we had here, data were shared that show something like 45% of males and 33% of females begin college with an intention to focus on sciences. So the STEM message is coming through loud and clear. The most popular major for both genders is Business Administration. Among those with intention to study science, life sciences and social sciences draw a higher proportion of girls than of boys and engineering a higher proportion of boys.

    I think it is the fascination of the life sciences and the sense of breakthroughs in that area, the innovativeness and work environment in particular private companies, and the lure of entrepreneurship that draw many students more than an aversion to physical science and engineering.
    • Jun 13 2013: I think the questioner, does not realize, or maybe rather posts it from a pov that assumes people are not doing engineering work because they are not working in the oil and gas industry. From what I see, they are doing engineering work, but are choosing not to work in that industry, rather like some people wont work for the military. So I don't believe there are any less students, it's just they, which is their right, choosing what they think will be valuable in the future. And if they happens not to be for oil and gas, well so be it.