While one of the primary concerns of the STEAM movement has been alignment with big businesses and engineering firms, that worry may be soon to fade. Technology giant Qualcomm has thrown their support in with with their CEO making a $20 million donation to Berkeley’s College of Engineering for the purpose of expanding art and design in engineering education.
CEO Paul Jacobs said of the donation:
“In our interconnected innovation economy, it is not enough to provide our future engineering leaders with technical skills…. they must also learn how to work in interdisciplinary teams, how to iterate designs rapidly, how to manufacture sustainably, how to combine art and engineering, and how to address global markets.”
Qualcomm additionally hosted a forum for STEAM Connect earlier this month, aimed at educating and informing the community on the importance of STEAM, and what the movement is about. They spoke to the rising initiative for California to enhance creative schools, how teachers can use art to teach traditional STEM topics, as well as interesting new NSF projects, such as:
- Balboa Park’s experiment to create an incubator for schools via art-based STEM education
- SEAD – an educational initiative aimed at elevating the role of art in science
- other projects such as teacher training, the creation of higher education programs, and more
While the donation of $20 million and the event itself are important movers and shakers in the world of STEAM, most important is the attention they are drawing to the initiative. In countries around the world, other communities are working to change their schools so that young minds are taught these new methods of creative and critical thinking. Arts and culture organizations and business executives are now meeting with higher frequency to collaborate on what happens when art and science are merged together.
Getting huge businesses such as Qualcomm on the side of STEAM is a step in the right direction, and it keeps the idea of STEM reform on the public agenda. Hopefully there’s more like this in the future! Hats off to you, Qualcomm.