Bridging the STEM gap is an essential activity
In a visit to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) on 15 November, Lockheed Martin Chairman, President & CEO Marillyn Hewson commended the university for the important role it plays in bridging the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills gap – in Denmark and overseas. She noted the critical shortage of scientists and engineers and underlined the importance of careers in these disciplines in ensuring a safe, stable and secure society.
The company has been conducting a number of joint research programmes with the university’s Departments of Space and Mechanical Engineering since 2015 and is working towards further collaboration in areas such as cybersecurity, material sciences and precision navigation. Hewson lauded the relationship with DTU, which sees the best minds from both sides of the Atlantic working in partnership to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges. She reaffirmed Lockheed Martin’s commitment to working in partnership with DTU to mentor and develop the next generation of Danish engineers, spurring their involvement in critical areas of research and innovation.
In addition, with its Danish supply chain partner Terma, a key supplier to the F-35 LIGHTNING II programme, Lockheed Martin has established an F-35 Master’s Student Internship Program for DTU students. Five DTU students held internships at the company’s Aeronautics business in Fort Worth, Texas earlier this year, with successful candidates for 2017 internships soon to be announced.
“Lockheed Martin is among the leading technological companies within its field and DTU sees great benefits in our collaboration, both in terms of our joint research in key areas and with regard to an internship programme that provides our students (with the ability) to be at the forefront of technological development,” said Katrine Krogh Andersen, Research Dean at DTU.
Collaboration between industry and academia is hardly new: it does, however, seem to have taken on greater significance in recent years. Lockheed Martin, Thales, Indra, Embraer, BAE Systems, General Dynamics – to name just a few of the leading global defence and security contractors with whom Mönch has discussed the issue in recent months – all pay close attention to developing intimate and mutually beneficial relationships with local and international academic bodies.
To a degree this is self-serving, as indeed it should be. No enterprise devotes funding and resources to such an undertaking without being convinced there is a benefit in so doing. Equally, however, there is a forward-looking dimension to these liaisons. In Britain and the United States there is recent and compelling evidence that industry finds it difficult to recruit the right calibre of scientists and engineers to ensure sustainable sovereign capability in the near term. The same must be true of many other nations. At I/ITSEC in Orlando next week there will certainly be a thread during the conference that addresses the need to stimulate STEM disciplines from high school all the way through tertiary education.
Working with academia; stimulating young and innovative minds to produce better results; promoting the idea of ‘thinking outside the box;’ empowering and encouraging lateral thinking for better solutions: all of these are laudable ambitions. But they are no longer simply A Good Thing To Do, or a checkmark in the box for Good Corporate Citizenship: they are essential activities for organisations that seek a sustainable competitive edge in an increasingly confused and complex world.