It was encouraging to see so much attention on K-12 STEM activities at the recent ECEDHA Conference and ECExpo (#ECEDHA2018). As Keysight’s chief technical officer Jay Alexander observed, students are engaged by things that move, and there was much activity around maker spaces (Arizona State, Bucknell, Illinois, New Haven, Pennsylvania) and robotics (Central Florida, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the National Science Foundation).
While robotics and other automation offer great opportunities for engineers and technicians, they will eliminate many jobs that formerly provided employment for millions. The videos below should be shown to middle- and high-school students to make them aware of the changing employment landscape:
Of course, automation is hardly new. Many jobs that were common in the 20th century are now either gone or greatly reduced: telephone switchboard operators, elevator operators, ice deliverers, newspaper deliverers, typesetters, taxi drivers, postal workers, booksellers, lamplighters, core memory assemblers, golf caddies, blacksmiths, cashiers, bank tellers, and travel agents are much rarer than they once were, if not obsolete.
The challenge is to ensure that students have the knowledge and abilities that tomorrow’s jobs will require, and ECEDHA’s member institutions are reaching out to K-12 to help.