Much is made about celebrity worship, especially in the US. With the growing idolization of people who are famous for no apparent reason and the recognition that students are losing interest in science, technology, engineering and math, we are missing an opportunity. We can solve both problems - giving our kids substance over celebrity and creating a new generation of STEM leaders by making engineers our newest heroes.
In prior generations, astronauts were heroes. People who were aviators or scientists that strapped themselves to the pointy end of a giant rocket were legitimately idolized by kids everywhere. Today, our kids worship people who are famous for being famous. As a parent of young children (who are not yet cognizant of what a Kardashian is - thank goodness), I am worried about who my kids will look up to in the future. My daughter loves to read "Who Is/Was...." books featuring people like Leonardo Davinci, Helen Keller and Marie Curie. I am so grateful that she shows interest in this. But it also made me wonder, what innovators from today will become prominent - or famous - enough that they will be recognized by future generations. As I thought about it - other than Elon Musk (one of my personal heroes) - it was hard to think of someone else. That's a problem.
If we really want people to be interested in STEM, we need to celebrate those innovators who are making a difference. Whether they are inventing new technologies, discovering cures for diseases or developing new cleaner power sources, these are the real heroes. They are people of substance but we don't know who they are. We need faces behind innovation to show what can be done if you work hard, study and pursue a great education.
That's the secret to a better future.