Give science, engineering jobs an image boost

AFTER reading the debate on the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) degrees and careers ("Boost scientific literacy in today's info-laden world" by Miss Melissa Tan Siew Ting, and "Teach history, philosophy of science" by Mr Chua Meng Shuen; both published on June 11, and "Teach technology's role in shaping society" by Mr Ronald Chan Wai Hong; June 9), I have some suggestions, based on my experiences, on possible directions that curriculum planners and teachers can take.

I am a fresh physics graduate from the National University of Singapore and have just joined the manufacturing industry as an engineer. I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate days.

Beyond content itself, I looked forward to the many problem-solving opportunities that a physics education provided, and became very analytical in the process. I am sure these skills are of value for a lifetime, regardless of whether I choose to embark on a Stem career.

Besides imparting content knowledge itself, a curriculum should also be inquiry-based.

I hope that in the classroom, teachers act as facilitators to raise the intellectual curiosity of students, and that asking intelligent questions is second nature to students.

Miss Tan is right to say that parents perceive Stem careers as less glamorous, compared with other careers like law and medicine.

The status of Stem careers should be raised, and the media can play a part in this.

It is every parent's aspiration that their children experience career stability and security, and this explains why parents hope that their children enter more stable fields like medicine and law.

Still, Singapore's economy is well developed enough to support different kinds of Stem industries. I encourage all prospective scientists and engineers to give their choice of study careful thought, and to pursue their interests.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

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