Last Friday, January 23rd, three Chicago companies graciously opened their doors to more than 60 students to demonstrate technology’s role in vastly different industries. STEM United groupAt United, students learned how technology is used to schedule flight attendants’ shifts, track airplane safety and maintenance work, and predict and communicate weather conditions to keep flights safe and on schedule. The students even tried their hand at the last part, working in groups to offer solutions to a potential flight delay due to a storm covering the southwest.

The Winter STEM Launch event at Truman College was a dynamic collaboration between Chicago Public Schools, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Truman College. This was the third STEM Launch event and it was led by Professor Mike Davis. The event was a huge success and it reached the anticipated attendance capacity of 50 high school students. Throughout the event, students participated in hands-on STEM enrichment activities that used the MaKey MaKey invention kit (see video below). The popular MIT educational technology tool was used in conjunction with the SCRATCH program language. These tools enabled students to build and program video games, musical instruments and turn everyday objects into electronic controllers.

“To position yourself favorably for the jobs of the future, become someone who can look at problems in unorthodox ways, seeing different angles and finding workable solutions," David Tuffley wrote in an article on The Washington Post website. In the article published in early January, Tuffley writes about the jobs of the future…and how to get one. What is largest sector to get a shout out from Tuffley? Information technology. His list of jobs included analysts of many kinds, web and mobile application developers, and of course, robotic specialists. Tuffley’s other predictions are hardly surprising: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, school teachers, psychologists, financial advisors, engineers in all areas, and even sales reps and construction workers. But more importantly than job titles, Tuffley outlines what he calls “generic skills” and what are commonly called “soft skills” or social and emotional intelligence. These include: