Like many who follow research developments in high technology, I am constantly amazed at the power of science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) to solve real-life problems -- especially problems across diverse venues and disciplines.
Take for example the research of mathematician Lloyd Shapley and economist Alvin Roth, two Americans who shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economic Science for their work in market design and matching theory -- a fascinating mathematical framework which is shedding light on how people and companies find and select one another in everything from marriage and college choices to jobs and organ donation matching.
At the economics level alone, the Roth-Shapley model has improved the performance of many markets, especially those that do not have prices or that have strict restraints on prices. But perhaps even more important, the model has literally been a life-saver in medical technology, playing a key role in matching thousands of kidney transplant patients with kidney donors.
And that's the power and interdisciplinary spirit of STEM that intrigues me. But as an American I'm also concerned that we as a nation are not doing enough at the grassroots level with teachers and schools to help make stories like Roth-Shapley come alive for children to inspire them in STEM, and to enhance science literacy by demonstrating how STEM intersects with other fields for real-life application.
That's why the USA Science & Engineering Festival (the nation's largest celebration of science and engineering) is once more gearing up to address such challenges by assembling an unforgettable line-up of renowned and diverse innovators in STEM next April to wow students in high technology, and to show how these disciplines apply to everyday life.
With Lockheed Martin serving as founding and presenting host, the month-long Festival, and its finale Expo on the weekend of April 26-27 in Washington, DC, will bring some of America's foremost achievers and visionaries in STEM up front and personal for visitors in exciting hands-on venues!
In fact, one of these must-see experiences -- the Festival's all-day X-STEM Extreme STEM Symposium set for Thursday, April 24 at the DC Convention Center -- is already creating tremendous buzz among students, teachers and others. X-STEM, through hands-on workshops and demonstrations, will allow visitors to meet and interact with an exclusive and diverse group of visionaries in a wide range of STEM disciplines, including:
Bernard Harris, M.D., NASA astronaut and first African American to walk in space; John Holdren, Ph.D., senior advisor to President Obama on science and technology; Angela Belcher, Ph.D., famed MIT bioengineering innovator;Francis Collins, Ph.D., M.D., Director of the prestigious National Institutes of Health; Steve Wolf, Hollywood stunt scientist; Nan Daeschler Hauser, Ph.D., renowned oceanographer who is saving the humpback whale; Glen Whitney, Ph.D., mathematician and founder of the Math Factory; Anthony Atala, M.D., a leading researcher in the effort to grow human tissue and organs; and Melina Bellows, the brains behind National Geographic's science publications for kids.
So join us, and help us make a difference in April 2014 as we collaborate with a compendium of sponsors and partners from around the nation to make STEM come alive and inspire the next generation of innovators!
Follow Larry Bock on Twitter: www.twitter.com/usasciencefest