Category Archives: STEM

KEYSTONE THREADED DRILLS DOWN TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF STEM

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is a small acronym but in no way insignificant.

If we question ourselves about the importance of STEM in our daily lives and take time out to really reflect on the implications of the disciplines encompassed by those four letters, we will admit readily that the whole precept of civilization is one that is supported by STEM.

From the understanding of the solar eclipse as a celestial phenomenon and not the wrath of whimsical gods to the towering skyscrapers and the busy, life-changing labyrinth of the internet, our advancement is hinged on how we understand our surroundings, translate our visions into tangible blueprints and execute the blueprints as per best practices to produce robust structures, theories and paradigms. And these activities need to leverage STEM – heavily!

THE IMPORTANCE OF STEM TO A SUCCESSFUL LIFE:

Tackling the pragmatic first, according to a pronouncement made by the United States Department of Labor, eight out of the ten most lucrative careers and valued employees are closely related to STEM disciplines. The Department of Commerce has unearthed substantial discrepancies and inequality between the wages earned by STEM employees and those from non-STEM backgrounds. For example healthcare workers with associate degrees to doctor of medicine, earn a full 20% more over their lifetime than their peers who hail from non-healthcare niches.

Not only does a STEM centric education increase the quality of life because of better compensation, a child interested in Science and Technology is likelier to land a job straight out of college because STEM occupations grow at the rate of 17%, almost double that of non-STEM sectors.

Over 2008 to 2014, biomedical engineers earned $77,400 as median wage and this average applies to the entire nation! It is no small wonder that other jobs boasting high annual incomes also belong to the STEM paradigm.

STEM CAREERS FUEL INNOVATION AND ADVANCEMENT: 

Moving away from the strictly practical considerations, STEM and its popularity is also fundamental to the growth and development of the global economy. From semi-conductors which can function at room temperature to an effective cure to the life threatening curse of cancer, without science, technology and engineering, these leaps into the next generation of advancements and monetization is not possible.

US lags far behind its Asian and European counterparts where the adoption of STEM careers is concerned. A US News Survey says that only 1 in 4 graduates in the country belong to STEM educational pursuits. Even though the demand for STEM skills is the highest, a very small percentage of students who hail from science actually choose to stick to the field and seek gainful employment in the concomitant industries and sectors.

If progress is to be made and maintained by the citizens of the country, STEM has to be encouraged in all its forms. Companies must undergo a mind-set shift and look to invest in STEM endeavours instead of ‘brain draining’ other nations to get relevant jobs done.

Keystone Threaded Products wholeheartedly supports STEM and its pursuit.  As suppliers of threaded bars, nuts and other custom made high quality components, it is dedicated in its commitment to engineering efforts and the benefits to be realized from an education in science.

What is the skills gap, and how do we overcome it?

As American companies such as us here at Keystone Threaded Products Company, bring more manufacturing jobs back to America in the reshoring efforts, challenges have sprung up.  And as our economy is trying to recover from the 2008 recession, employment in the skills gap is shifting.  One of the major challenges have become the obvious in recent years is the skills gap, and small businesses are struggling to find employees whose skills match their industry needs.

What is the skills gap?

The skills gap is the space between the skills that are needed for daily manufacturing work, and the skills that exist in the current workforce.  This leads to skilled workers going on without jobs, and manufacturing jobs left unfilled.  The skills gap has an impact on small businesses, since they do not have the same resources as larger corporations to spend money on recruiting skilled workers.  This also has an impact on the economy as small businesses account for two thirds of new jobs.  Estimates place the number of jobs that are empty due to lack in skills gap at nearly half of a million jobs.

Why does the skills gap exist?

There are a number of reasons the skills gap has developed.  The growth in demand increases year in and year out, while the baby boomer generation, which is well-trained in manufacturing skills, continues to age and retire.  Another reason is that, while prospective workers are gaining skills, they aren’t the skills needed for necessary job functions – workers needed basic math and computer abilities.  Nowadays, corporations are investing more on capital and modernized machinery – where the skills of the trade are no longer needed, since modern CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines can be programmed to produce a part.

How do we overcome the skills gap?

The best way to address the skills gap is for manufacturers to turn to the younger generation and demonstrate to them that manufacturing is no longer a dark, dirty segment of the economy.  It is now a technology-driven and is a fine alternative to a four-year college degree, with competitive wages and cleaner work environment, also with room to move up the ladder and become a shop manager.  As well as in the manufacturing industry every day is a new challenge, as products and manufacturing is constantly changing.  And the skills in the manufacturing industry are gained through experience, since some newer machines cannot perform the functions to produce complex machining. Manufacturing is an art form; the complexity cannot be done by machines alone, and need the skilled, human touch.

Many industries are doing this already, with manufacturers’ small and large working with local community and local schools to develop technical programs and educate students on the viability of a career in the manufacturing field. Many companies are also offering apprenticeships for those interesting in the field, but haven’t yet chosen a specialty as well as on-the-job training. This can help create a new generation of workers who can be part of the manufacturing sector for generations to come.  One of the biggest problems is retaining those workers that are trained, and being able to have them teach the younger generation their experiences.  Unfortunately with such competition for trained workers, they constantly have offers of work.

At Keystone Threaded Products Company, we see that filling the skills gap is necessary to the health and growth of the American manufacturing sector moving forward.  Closing this gap will help our economy grow and succeed, and set a foundation for decades to come.  If you are interested in helping to close this gap, get in touch with us or with our local resources including vocational schools and manufacturers alike that are looking for workers.

Closing the STEM Gender Gap

Keystone TP STEMMen are currently dominating STEM-related fields, which is exactly why it’s become more important than ever for women to get involved in order to start bridging the career gap between the two genders. By doing so, it will create much-needed diversity in the workforce of engineers, mathematicians, computer programmers and scientists. Right now, only one in seven engineers is female, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Also, in the U.S., only 1/5 of physics PhDs are awarded to women, and only 14% of physics professors in the U.S. are women.

There are many ways for women to get involved in STEM fields, but getting them interested and encouraging them to pursue STEM careers is one of the main problems. There are many negative stereotypes and generalizations that people tend to relate to STEM fields that need to be broken. Namely, men are more qualified and naturally excel more at those types of jobs than women. However, women are just as capable as men to succeed in STEM related fields, and by educating women about the many opportunities out there, the STEM fields will be able to grow and become more diverse.

Moving away from the negative connotations that are, in fact, untrue, more women will want to take the step towards STEM related fields. It’s beneficial for girls to get involved at a younger age through STEM educational programs. By taking these proactive steps, the STEM gender gap can and will start to become smaller and smaller as more and more women rise in STEM fields.