Indiana Tech asked its alumni to share their stories with the next generation of students. I am incredibly honored that Indiana Tech chose to share mine.
It's National STEM Day - the ideal day to talk to young people about the wonders of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and to help them on their journey in any way that you can.
It's also the perfect day to announce that the university has asked me to teach a second course, so I must be doing something right! I love being an adjunct professor. Helping the next generation of engineers reach their goals means more to me than I can express. Part-time teaching, along with my full-time dream job (SoC Design Engineer), has given me immeasurable fulfillment. I am very fortunate and grateful.
On this National STEM Day, I can't help but reflect on the road I've taken to get where I am today. There have been plenty of forks in the road, a few detours and road closures, and lots of twists and turns, but I managed to achieve my goals thanks to the numerous supportive people I met along the way.
So today, join me - support young people and help them along their paths. Be generous with your time, be willing to teach, and be anxious to mentor. Give them the tools and the confidence they need to pursue their dreams.
In short, to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, tell them this: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."
"Professor Alex Forsythe." I love the sound of that!
I am thrilled to announce that I am officially a professor! Beginning this month, I will be teaching Digital Circuits for Indiana Tech as an adjunct professor.
During the weekdays, I'll continue working on the next generation of products for Intel as an SoC (system on chip) Design Engineer. In the evenings, I'll be helping the next generation of students understand engineering concepts. At the same time, I'll continue to pursue my master's degree in electrical engineering.
I am so excited to begin this chapter of my career. My short-term career goal has always been to be an engineer by day, and an engineering professor by night.
This is a dream come true. What a great way to celebrate IEEE Day!
I've seen many joyous graduation posts lately (congratulations!), but I've seen an equal number of posts by concerned parents about their children who have been labeled as "learning disabled". Here's a note to all of you who, like me, were told that their disabilities were inabilities: Don't listen to the naysayers. I was born with a "defective brain", but I now design the "brains" for computers and robotics.
I was born with dyslexia and dyscalculia. When I was a kid, the schools in my area weren't capable of helping kids like me. Since I couldn't read and I struggled with math, it was generally accepted that I would slip further and further behind my peers. My future was bleak and my options were limited.
My parents refused to accept such a negative outlook. My mom quit her dream job as an attorney so that she could focus on researching my learning differences. She was determined to find the best ways to teach me so that I could become anything I wanted to be. Although everything was a struggle, she never allowed me to believe that I was learning disabled; I was taught that there was no limit in my ability to learn.
Thanks to my parents, by the time I graduated from high school, I not only caught up to my peers, I surpassed most of them. I scored in the top 10% in the nation on the ACT (college admissions test) and I had already earned over a year's worth of college credit. Several universities offered me full-ride academic scholarships to study engineering (free tuition, books, room and board).
I studied very hard in college and graduated summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 GPA, majoring in electrical engineering with minors in computer science and math, all while working part-time as a computer and electrical design engineer, and while remaining very active in community service. I was honored with the distinction of being the university's top engineering student - valedictorian, if you will, of the college of engineering.
Today, I've got my dream job and I'm in graduate school earning my master's degree in electrical engineering. I am sitting on top of the world. It's been a long, hard climb from where I began, but thanks to my parents, I was given the opportunity to summit my mountain.
The professionals told my parents that my future was bleak, college was out of the question, and very few doors would be open for me.
My parents taught me that no matter what circumstances I may face, nothing is impossible. My parents were right.
So to all of you kids with "defective brains" like mine, don't listen to the naysayers. You can become anything you want to be!
It's unbelievably wonderful to be back in the office again!
Working from home has its benefits, but I prefer face-to-face interactions. I love the camaraderie, banter, grabbing lunch, and the feeling that we're a team - an extended family. Maybe it's because I have the best boss, best coworkers, and best job in the world, but I love being back!
I love teaching young people about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and this was an outstanding group of students! They were all very bright, imaginative, and inquisitive. The future is looking brighter thanks to young people like these!
Guess who got admitted to grad school?
I'll continue working at Intel as an electrical design engineer (working on the next generation of products for Intel), and I'll continue to go on adventures most weekends, but I'll be pursuing an incredible new chapter of my life on weekday evenings.
The future is looking so bright! Master's of Electrical Engineering, here I come!
I am honored to have been given the Engineering Innovation Award by Elevate Nexus for the development of an educational product!! As part of the award, I will be provided with pathways and opportunities to increase my outreach program, helping students appreciate and understand STEM concepts (STEM = science, technology, engineering, math).
Children are our greatest resource, and all children should have access to the tools they need to succeed in the world of tomorrow. That is why I proposed a product that teaches STEM concepts to children, and I am humbled that the committee found value in my proposal.
According to IEEE, 80% of professions will require some STEM expertise within this decade. However, among high school students only 16% plan to go into a STEM field. The numbers are even lower for female high school students; only 7% of female high schoolers plan to go into STEM.
Of those who do elect to major in a STEM field in college, many either do not graduate or they switch majors. According to SWE, about a third of females who begin college in a STEM field change majors. Of the females who successfully graduate with an engineering degree, only 30% are still working as engineers 20 years later.
Currently, only 13% of engineers identify as women, and 26% of computer scientists identify as women. By race, only 3% of engineers are Black, 8% are Hispanic, and 14% are Asian.
All of these numbers are alarming. Clearly, there is an increasingly large skills gap in the United States. This is especially true of underrepresented populations. One way that I have chosen to combat the problem is by introducing young children to the STEM fields in a fun, engaging way.
I have been teaching children in the various STEM fields for almost a decade, and I've done so in several capacities: County Science Ambassador; keynote speaker at state conferences; designer and developer of teachers' packets and trunks; Coder Dojo instructor; teacher at several STEM camps; guest speaker for every 4th grade classroom in the county; and more.
One of the most effective methods I have found to generate interest in STEM is by using a fun, universally recognized fan favorite: R2-D2. By introducing children to R2-D2, and letting the kids know that I designed and built R2 from scratch - and each of them can, too - it opens up a world of possibilities for them. Learning about the hardware and software that makes R2 run, along with the woodworking, metalworking, 3D printing, and painting involved, the kids are introduced to a wide variety of STEM concepts and skills. This is especially true when combined with engaging activities and hands-on projects that allow the children to design simplified versions on their own. As they admire their own work at the end of our classes, they discover that math, coding, and engineering are not beyond their reach. The children realize that those fields are not dull, and STEM can be exciting, fun, understandable, useful, and valuable.
Any of the Star Wars droids and characters would be outstanding tools for teaching STEM concepts to children. With a franchise worth $68B, and 24% of American households (~79M) owning Star Wars memorabilia, the Star Wars characters have a global appeal, reaching across multi-cultural boundaries, and bringing children together with a shared interest regardless of their own background or personality type. The droids are safe and easy tools with which to teach STEM, and they encourage teamwork, exploration, and innovative problem-solving, thereby preparing the next generation to work together to develop creative solutions for the complex problems facing humanity.
R2-D2 has served as an excellent ice breaker and assistant teacher. However, it weighs hundreds of pounds and it is a long-term build (it took me a year) so children are less likely to be able to complete the project themselves. Therefore, it only makes sense to develop a smaller, yet equally engaging and recognizable teaching tool. The Mouse Droid is that tool. It's more transportable, and it's far more achievable and affordable for students to build themselves. It is something that children can design and build very quickly, yet they will learn the same concepts as those learned by building R2-D2. With social groups and events like DroidCon and the Droid Builders' Clubs across the country, children can find like-minded friends, and they can find opportunities to collaborate, barter, and trade their products, all while developing their engineering skills and business acumen.
Children are the key to our future. Children of all cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds should have access to engaging learning opportunities that enable them to understand and appreciate STEM concepts, and students from underrepresented populations should be encouraged to pursue STEM careers. If my Mouse Droid outreach program can reach some of those children and encourage them to go into STEM, and if each of those students encourage others, think of the ripple effect it can have!
I am excited about the opportunity to continue to develop my product along with the accompanying teaching materials, and I am grateful to those who placed their faith in my project. I believe in the engineers and leaders of tomorrow, and I am honored to be able to contribute to their growth and future.
I'm celebrating National STEM Day today, loving what I do for a living (I'm an electrical engineer working on the next generation of products for Intel). I'm grateful to everyone along the way who opened my eyes to the STEM fields, and I'm especially grateful to those who empowered me to fulfill my goals.
I'm humbled that I have had numerous opportunities to pay it forward and teach the next generation about electrical and computer engineering. I am so proud of all of the young people I've met and I can't wait to see what their futures will bring!
I was honored to be the Convocation Speaker at Indiana Tech (total enrollment of 10,000+)!