Get Involved in STEM - CMSC Chair Letter by Gary Confalone

Get Involved in STEM!

By Gary Confalone, CEO of ECM Global and CMSC 2018 Chairperson

Article first published on Quality Digest in November 2017.

gary confaloneIt starts with passion. Each year, my company, ECM Global Measurement Solutions, is invited to participate in an ever-increasing number of events, which introduces students and our future workforce to opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These range from Cub Scout engineering badge events to guest lectures at local colleges and universities.

The Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) Education Committee is working to encourage our membership to develop and/or participate in local STEM activities in their local communities. High-quality STEM learning is crucial to improving our overall competitiveness in advanced manufacturing. Our goal is to reach out to CMS members for their support in building STEM awareness beyond our 3D metrology community. It is the right thing to do for our industry and incoming professionals.

My company is particularly passionate about one special event—the New Hampshire’s Annual Girls Technology Day. This event is coordinated every spring by the New Hampshire Department of Education (DOE) in conjunction with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH). We were first invited to attend by NH Volunteer of the Year recipient William Hinton, a man whose volunteer work with students of all ages is unparalleled. Hinton’s passion is metrology and his gift is teaching others. The Girls Technology Program began in 2013 with 120 girls from high schools throughout New Hampshire participating in ten workshops.

Today, this event has exponentially expanded with 35 high schools now sending more than 800 students. An entourage of 73 volunteers, 95 presenters, and 162 workshops now welcome these girls! These STEM workshops provide crucial hands-on experience and demonstrate that science and math can be fun at a time when girls often become “turned off” to those disciplines. Ultimately, this is the time in their lives when many students begin to focus their interests in what eventually will become their career path.

The shortage of women pursuing careers in fields like science and engineering continues to be a challenge for companies across the country. Women account for roughly half of the college-educated workforce, but less than a third of those are working in a science field, with most of these jobs being in healthcare. It is critically important to provide experiences that help young women see themselves as engineers, scientists, or mathematicians.

Educating the next generation is extremely important to ECM, so we actively host and attend many educational events each year, whether it is training, or simply showing a group of young eager minds what we do in our everyday job as 3D metrologists. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing students in the cafeteria enthusiastically telling their friends about the laser scanners or infrared cameras that they got to use. “I never even knew this stuff existed!” are the kinds of comments you’ll hear.

The CMS was developed to promote our industry not just to each other, but to the young workforce coming up through the ranks. It is no secret that our industry is forced to home-grow our metrology professionals. But now, we can create the opportunity to introduce these students to our profession before we hire them. Due to many years of educational outreach and equipment donations, ECM is now hiring students who graduate with interest and knowledge in our field.

Now is the time get involved in STEM. I urge the CMS community to show others that a metrology career path is interesting and rich with opportunity. You will be surprised at how many folks, young and old, are interested in what we do for a living. Seeing a teacher as excited as the students is part of this rewarding experience. But for me personally, it is also fulfilling to see our engineers and technicians describing their careers with so much enthusiasm, and yes, even passion.