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The Corporate Quandary

July 13, 2011

How do we synchronize our STEM efforts across all sectors?

When it comes to STEM education, the private sector has a twofold agenda that directly contradicts itself. First, corporations are for-profit institutions that thrive off of a consumer society. They need consumers to submit to a certain amount of conformity to accept the products and/or services provided.  On the other hand, corporations are trying to employ innovative, ‘out of the box’ thinkers who will devise the next billion dollar idea. Ironically, innovation is measured through pre-existing metrics and thresholds, though innovation itself is the unknown within an existing system.

Schumpeter’s theory of innovation calls for creative destruction of existing elements within a capitalistic system to spark innovation. Destruction is exactly what corporations try to prevent – they want stability, profit, and growth; yet, to mold stability, profit, and growth, they must lead efforts towards new methods and devices, and thus, be innovative. These gaps between the ideal employee and the system that creates the ideal employee are eloquently articulated by Laura Richardson in The Atlantic; “NASA and Boeing are finding that recent graduates can technically render in two dimensions but can no longer think in three.” With this contradiction in mind, how can the private sector interject itself into the education system and produce the employees, students, and consumers it aims to satisfy?

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