2012 May - Career Fuel2012 May - Career Fuel

group of people

May 2012
In This Issue:



The Roots of STEM
Cathy’s Cell Phone Innovation
All Aboard the M3 Challenge
Considering Math and Science
Resource Corner

The Roots of STEM

Chances are you’ve heard the term “STEM” mentioned recently, or perhaps you read about it in the news. What’s all the fuss about? It has more to do with your future than you may know. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, four critical components of jobs and growth in the global economy. President Barack Obama talks any chance he gets about the importance of nurturing better science students to help the U.S. compete globally. His “Educate to Innovate” campaign calls for continued excellence in STEM education.

One of the latest reports out of the New Jersey Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition suggests that nearly 270,000 new jobs in STEM-related fields will need to be filled by 2018 in the Garden State. Can you see yourself working in a laboratory or in some other scientific career? Students 2 Science, a nonprofit organization in East Hanover, is partnering with schools like Newark Science Park High School and companies like Daiichi Sankyo, a pharmaceutical firm, to bring students to a commercial laboratory to work alongside science professionals. For more information on STEM career exploration, like S2S’s “A Day in the Life of a Scientist” program, visit http://www.students2science.org.

STEM careers are not all tech and numbers—they’re also fun. Take, for instance, the two all-girl teams of 8th graders from Stuart Country Day School in Princeton who at the end of May were among the top winners of the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge for their original game designs.

Bottom line: We hear a lot about America’s STEM deficit and how we need to nurture and produce more young mathletes, technologists and scientists to keep up with the world’s young whizzes. As you’ll see, New Jersey is doing its part.

top of page

Cathy’s Cell Phone Innovation

May 13 through 18 was a week of inspiring innovation at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. More than 1,500 high school students from 68 countries considered as the world’s brightest young scientists took part in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2012. They shared ideas, showcased cutting-edge research and inventions and competed for more than $3 million in awards.

Catherine Wong, a junior at Morristown High School, was one of the promising young scientists invited to show off her high-tech skills at Intel’s ISEF—specifically her “Design and Evaluation of a Cell-Phone Compatible Wireless
Electrocardiograph.”

The Intel ISEF is the world's largest science fair and recognizes students who are accomplished young scientists in their respective fields,” notes Erin Colfax, Catherine’s science teacher who accompanied her to the fair. “Cathy had a successful showing at the fair. Her research was recognized with specialty awards from the United States Air Force, the AVASC organization and Florida Institute of Technology. Additionally, she received a category award in engineering of fourth place. She brought home several significant cash prizes and even a scholarship.” Adds Colfax: “Cathy has a life goal of helping others in impoverished areas around the world.”

NJ Next Stop spoke with Catherine to learn more about her potentially life-saving biomedical engineering technology.

NJ Next Stop: What is your cell phone project all about?

Catherine: I develop medical diagnostic equipment that works with cell phones. This year, I’m working on building an electrocardiograph or EKG, an imaging technique that they use to diagnose heart disease. It works off the cell phone. It’s actually piggy backing off a project that I did last year to get stethoscopes to work with the cell phone. That was successful enough that I wanted to see if other diagnostic equipment could work off the same platform. The cell phone itself is displaying the EKG image. The [traditional] EKG is a fairly large standalone device that is going to display imaging of the heartbeat and cardiac problems. My [wireless electrocardiograph] turns the cell into an EKG. It’s a device that transmits signals from the heart to the cell phone so it will display the image and transmit it to physicians and doctors who are located remotely, not where the patient is.

NJ Next Stop: This can give people living in rural areas access to better health care?

Catherine: Yes. The idea is to outsource the diagnosis so that wherever the patient is located, this cell phone infrastructure can help him or her get medical care of the same caliber and quality as if that physician were available locally.

NJ Next Stop: What are your plans after high school?

Catherine: I haven’t really looked much into college yet. I definitely want to go further with biomedical engineering because this has cemented my interest in science. I’m spending the summer at MIT at the Research Science Institute. They’re going to pair me up with different labs and different professors at MIT to work further on this project. I really want to expand the diagnostic devices that are available on the platform. If cell phones can be used as EKGs and stethoscopes, it’s conceivable that many other diagnostic devices like ultrasound can also be put on the same thing.

Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Real People column’s “View All” feature and selecting “Catherine Wong.”

top of page

All Aboard the M3 Challenge

It’s no secret that applying knowledge to real-world problems is the best way to embrace equations—and learn to love math. In this case it can be rewarding and lucrative. A group of New Jersey high school students from High Technology High School in Lincroft recently scored top honors and a giant check for $20,000 in scholarship money during the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge. Their task? Calculating the possible future of U.S. high-speed rail.

Students were asked to rank 10 regions in order from most to least deserving of U.S. high-speed rail funding, working from the U.S. Department of Transportation's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, a proposed $53 billion plan that has failed to attract the necessary funding from Congress. Students were presented with the problem at 7 a.m. and had to write and upload 20-page papers on the issue by 9 p.m. The New Jersey winners, competing against computations from 961 teams in several different states, were Vineel Chakradhar, Stephen Guo, Daniel Takash, Angela Zhou and Kevin Zhou. “Some of us are stronger in math, so we were trying to do the mathematical models," Guo told InnovationNewsDaily. "Some of us were more politics and policy, and some of us were economics. So we all have our strengths.” They are all considering careers in various fields, including applied math, computer science, physics, mechanical engineering and economics.

The team, which reportedly played ping-pong and ate Chinese food during their day-long collaboration, concluded that no future high-speed railways (beyond Amtrak’s existing Acela line) would be profitable. And while they weren’t expected to “solve” the problem, they were able to see how math matters, suggests M3 Challenge judge Ben Galluzzo. “We're often bombarded by numbers generated by models from somewhere—news facts, polling numbers, predictions on where gas prices will be, unemployment numbers. Even if you're not a math major, you should care about what those numbers mean."

top of page

Considering Math and Science

Got math and science education? Well, you should. Here are a few tips from Joe Rosenstein, a Rutgers professor of mathematics and the past director of the New Jersey Mathematics and Science Coalition:

  • If you have a strong math background, then more doors are open for you in the future. Many kids are surprised to find out that many college majors have math requirements. You don’t want to be in a position of wanting to major in something and not being able to do it because you don’t have the math background.
  • The goal shouldn’t just be to pass the test, but to develop a level of mastery, particularly in algebra and geometry. A lot of students complete their high school math requirements in their junior year and don’t take math again in their senior year. When they come to college and have to take a math course, they’ve been away from math for a year and a half and they’ve lost it all. It’s very important for all students to take four years of high school math.
  • Science is very important because so many careers involve science. Today everything is technological. It’s quite extraordinary to me how many people go into technology fields of various types. Anyone who wants to explore alternative forms of energy in terms of figuring out how to keep the world going without using coal, energy and gas will need an understanding of the science behind the career.
  • Many students will say I don’t intend to do anything for which I need math. Even if you don’t retain the content of a math course, the problem solving and the reasoning needed in math are useful in all areas.
  • Most students in college change majors several times and most adults change their careers several times. You want to keep your options open, and math is critical to making sure your options are open.

Read an expanded version of this article, including one student’s reflections of Rutgers summer math camp, by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Real People column’s “View All” feature and selecting “Shreyas Chand.”

top of page

Resource Corner

top of page