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Nov 19 2010

Leading Engineer Urges STEM Studies for U.S. Growth

New York, N.Y. (Nov. 19, 2010) – Americans urgently need to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, a leading engineer told an audience of NYIT students, faculty, and visitors.

“Technology invaded our lives, and it can be dangerous if we don’t have a basic understanding of how things work,” said Evelyn Hirt, president of IEEE-USA, a technology advocacy group with a membership of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists, and computer professionals.

Hirt noted that literacy in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is essential not just for students who plan careers in those fields, but for anyone who wants to be more competitive in the job market. That, in turn, will make the United States more competitive.

“A country is only as good as its people,” she said on Wednesday, Nov. 17, during her lecture, STEM Literacy’s Role in U.S. Competitiveness. “Literacy is the lynchpin, the cornerstone of a country’s competitiveness.”

Growing up as a girl in Detroit’s inner city, Hirt was teased for her “nerdy” passion for technology. Thanks to supportive parents who valued education, she graduated with an engineering degree at a time when women were just beginning to enter the field.

Now, as a principal professional and engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and president of IEEE-USA, Hirt’s professional experiences have made her an influential female figure and advocate for STEM literacy in America.

While introducing Hirt, NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., discussed how America was a nation of ingenuity in the 20th century, yet within the past decade, it has lagged behind other leading economies as well as developing countries in producing technologically savvy workers.

Hirt warned that the U.S. is being eclipsed by developing economies that are growing at a rapid pace. She emphasized that Americans need to embrace lifelong learning to keep up with change.

Presented by the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, Hirt’s lecture was the second in NYIT’s 21st-Century Leaders Speakers Series held at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway.

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