Young adults feel unfit for fields in invention and innovation, survey reveals

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Young adults in the United States may feel inadequate or unprepared to further their education or enter a career in science, technology or engineering, according to a study released Jan. 19 by MIT.

The 2012 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, an annual survey of Americans aged 16-25, gauges participants’ perceptions of invention and innovation.

Respondents offered varied reasons for not choosing to further their education or career in these fields, with 34 percent saying they “don’t know much about these fields,” 33 percent saying, “these fields are too challenging,” and 28 percent saying they were not “well-prepared in school to seek out a career or further … (their) education in these fields.” Respondents could choose more than one option.

However, students also noted the effects of their lack of creativity. A lack of innovation was considered to “hurt the U.S. economy” by 47 percent of respondents, and about 80 percent said they’d be interested in courses that would help them “become more inventive and creative.”

Respondents said the best way to improve innovation in Americans would be to include invention projects in school.

Jon Jensen, associate dean for enrollment management in the College of Engineering, said Marquette has not seen a decrease in interest in engineering and has in fact seen an increase in enrollment.

Jensen said STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers have been at the forefront of academic discussions since about 2001.

“There has been a push to bring people into these careers,” Jensen said. “More awareness and more exposure to these careers is a positive thing.”

He said work needs to done early on in education to get kids on track for a STEM career.

Jack Rehn, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said he feels prepared not only to further his education in mechanical engineering but also for a career.

“The professors (at Marquette) give you a good problem-solving mindset,” Rehn said. He said in class he gets experience practicing and solving real-world problems.

“I feel ready to be a professional,” Rehn said.

Rehn said he was involved in Project Lead the Way in high school, which helped prepare him for Marquette. Project Lead the Way is a provider of STEM education programs established in middle and high schools across the U.S.

Adding to Americans’ woes is a notion that technological progress lies elsewhere in the world. About 60 percent of women and 54 percent of men in the survey said they see Japan as the leader in innovation.

President Barack Obama stressed in his State of the Union address last Tuesday the need for a globally competitive workforce, especially in technical fields.

Vito Montana, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said professors have told him that engineers are needed in the United States to improve the country’s infrastructure.

Montana, an environmental engineer, counts himself within the 22 percent of respondents who said they would be inspired by jobs that would give them a chance “to change the world.”

Montana said he wants to build environmentally friendly homes across the country.

“I am not ready to start a career, but I think we have set a good foundation,” Montana said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email