Friday, March 13, 2015

STEM, Inspiring Stories, and has ASQ REALLY addressed Root Cause?

The March 2015 ASQ Influential Voice topic perturbed me when I read that it was AGAIN a call for more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) emphasis.  First, I am a non-engineer working in a traditional engineering environment so I was hoping that this blog post was not a marketing piece for STEM above everything else. Fortunately, that was not the case, but as I continued to read I got more upset because I felt that the blog was offering “traditional” answers to inspiring students.  I saw nothing new that would change the status quo.

What I did not see was an analysis of those students who were inspired to solve issues using STEM.  For example, there is the case of Angela Zhang who in 2011 won a $100,000 scholarship for her nanotechnology research application to cancer stem cells.  There is Jack Andraka who won $75,000 for his work on early detection of cancers and viruses using a specialized test strip.  There are other stories out there as there continues to be a number of organizations funding world-wide STEM competitions.   Or, even more incredibly, how Samantha Garvey and her family persevered through home eviction to develop ground breaking ecological research.  Have we bothered to ask the question of what inspired these students and others like them to do what they did?

I re-read John Hunter’s February 2015 blog post on how ASQ needs to open up their information resources to community.  He asks HQ that if they are expecting members to be the “foot soldiers” leading the charge then they need to provide more resources to support their endeavors.  I strongly agree with this position.  The tools that have been provided to members are not innovative enough to inspire members to be more creative.  For example, where is the research on developing the STEM desire?  Where is the look at how ASQ can work with our education system to be more innovative?  Where are articles like this one?

Not all is doom and gloom. Recently, I got the opportunity to talk to Brian LeHoullier, one of the ASQ Managing Directors, and he mentioned that there are a lot of new people at HQ and he liked the different feel that they are bringing.  ASQ needs new ideas and tools that inspire that will first, increase the value of possessing an ASQ membership, which will then increase the prestige of ASQ to draw in younger members to refresh the organization. 

For me, being one of the older member leaders, I don’t want to see the same tools trotted out year after year to bring in business.  I want tools that inspire and that should be what we should be talking about.
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