Escape the Cubicle: Study STEM

Businesswoman reviewing paperwork at deskThere’s hardly a lack of evidence these days that desk jobs can be killers. Sitting at a desk all day can have adverse effects on health, productivity, and creativity. So if our work environments make large contributions to our health and success, how can we arm the next generation with tools to avoid the monotony of the 9-5 grind? The answer lies in four little letters: S-T-E-M.

Within the STEM community, there is a broad spectrum of potential jobs boasting offices in the most unexpected places. Whether on land or in the sea, STEM professionals have access to countless opportunities to explore and study the world. For a job description filled with challenge, excitement, and engagement, a STEM career may be a perfect fit.

Build Software on the Sea

cline_danelle1_underwater When thinking the term “software engineer,” many people conjure images of a professional hunched over a computer staring at algorithms or interfaces. You may know that a career in software engineering requires the ability to analyze problems from various angles and find multiple viable solutions. But did you also know that software engineers can work in a number of environments, including the sea? Just ask Danelle Cline, Software Engineer with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Whether out to sea to support her projects or sitting in a meeting room overlooking the ocean, her daily work environment is far from boring.

Software engineers work in a variety of fields—from aviation to medicine—and job growth is expected to increase by 30% within the next six years. The sizable salary is also a nice perk; software engineers in America make an average of $73,000 per year. Armed with a knack for problem solving, a creative spirit, and a curious mind, the software engineer can take his/her career almost anywhere.

Tour with Tornadoes

WurmanWorking as a meteorologist entails much more than predicting rainstorms and temperatures on the nightly news. As explained by Dr. Josh Wurman, Meteorologist and Storm Chaser, “a lot of my time is spent traveling, whether I am working on our own missions collecting data for tornadoes and hurricanes, or working on projects for other scientists.” The relative youth of this particular field of study means that opportunities for new research and experiments are varied and plentiful. Whether you want to chase storms or study climate change, there is a bright future for prospective meteorologists.

Boast an Office View of the Natural World

Coconut IslandSince biology is a blanket term for the study of all living organisms, a career as a biologist ensures widespread availability of diverse jobs and favorable fields of study. Whether you’re working to conserve endangered plants and animals in their natural habitats or researching gene expression and epigenetics from a lab on Gilligan’s Island, a career as a biologist oftentimes requires a great deal of contact with the natural world. With the continual meshing of scientific research and technology, a career in biology is a sure bet for innovation and job growth.

 

The Coolest of the Cool (jobs, that is)

We talk a bit about our Cool Jobs campaign that we launched on our websites last fall. While we completely encourage everyone to take an hour, a day, a month to peruse all of these wonderful interviews, we thought that we would take a second to highlight a few of these wonderful professionals. All of these men and women offered incredible wisdom about how they landed their careers and how students might follow in their footsteps. But some of them offered really wonderful life stories and incredible insights into the struggles they faced or the dedication required of them…

And don’t forget that our STEM Works websites offers four different versions of these interviews containing questions aimed specifically for different age groups: Elementary, Middle School, High School, and Undergraduate. So if you really love one of these articles and want to show it to your students, group, or children, be sure to find the version that is best suited for them!

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

Katrina McCauley always knew she wanted to work with animals, but the journey to becoming a Zookeeper wasn’t easy. McCauley, armed with the educational background and ability to promote herself, broke into zookeeping and has been building her relationship with Colo, the oldest gorilla in a zoo, ever since. Read more to learn how McCauley spends her days as a Zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo! Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

Lightning struck when Dr. Josh Wurman landed on the Discovery Channel’s reality series Storm Chasers and the IMAX film Forces of Nature.  Dr. Wurman was joined by his colleague Dr. Karen Kosiba to discuss what life is really like as a meteorologist and tornado chaser. A fun fact about this interview is that it was literally conducted while these two storm chasers were en route to a site in their meteorology van.  Read article.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

After a chance introduction to the field of public health, Allison Brown caught the bug! She passed up medical school to become an epidemiologist and now travels the world for the CDC to solve some of the world’s biggest public health problems. Read on to see why Allison’s interests are contagious! Read article.

Robotics IconRobotics

Robots are not just a thing of science-fiction.  Robots are in places you might not expect, whether they are helping people around the house or traveling to Mars.  We caught up with Dr. Chris Jones, former Director of Research Advancement with iRobot to discuss the power of mentorship, the emerging market for robotics, and even “soft” robots!  Read article.

Space IconSpace

We couldn’t conduct an interview related to space without first going to world-renowned NASA! Luckily, we were able to speak with Carlie Zumwalt, who is one of NASA’s Flight Dynamics Engineers. So what was this girl who works for such a high-profile organization like? She was surprisingly humble, incredibly candid, and wonderfully addicted to hard work. Her article is definitely a must read. Read article.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Shannon Johnson, Deep-Sea Research Technician with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), described her job as like watching the Discovery Channel in real time. Shannon explores the oceans through the use of ROV’s, or Remote Operated Vehicles, and gets to discover new things about the ocean every day. Oh, and not to mention that her office is in one of the most beautiful coastal areas on the West coast… Read article.

Video Games IconVideo Games

Kelly Murphy, a Video Game Designer for Walt Disney, spends his time balancing tight deadlines for game releases while ensuring Disney games are exciting to play and keep gamers’ coming back for more. Read more to learn what makes a Video Game Designer such a cool jobs here.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

At first glance this job might not seem very wind related… but it’s more wind related than you might think. After entering a Ph. D. program in aerospace engineering, the current of Jonathan Colby’s career swept him away from aerospace and toward renewable energy. Jonathan now works to turn the flow of New York’s East River into clean, renewable power. Read on to learn how blue water turns into green energy. Read article.

BeakerOther STEM Subjects

Because we are very aware that the wonderful world of STEM includes far more than the subjects above, we feature didn’t limit our interviews to these subjects alone. One of the professionals featured in this section is green chemist Dr. John Warner. Many products in our world today are made with toxic materials. Now, picture a world without toxins – no pollution, no hazardous materials, and no harmful products. Green Chemists, like John Warner PhD, are working to make this dream a reality. Learn what makes Dr. Warner’s work not only important to us, but critical for generations to come. Read article.