Nerd Is the New Awesome: 10 Reasons Why It's Hip to Be a Stem Geek
Nerd Is the New Awesome: Here's Why
Spread the Word: Geek Is Chic
You're stronger at math and science than the whole people thing, and that's okay. Engineering doesn't intimidate or befuddle you. Instead, you see it as a way to change the world for good.
And when it comes to technology, most folks can only use computer games and iPhone apps. You, my techie friend, have the high flying, supercharged skills to design them.
If this sounds familiar, then you're a probably a STEM nerd—passionate about science, technology, engineering, and math. And I'm here to tell you to that it's time to step up and own your awesome talents.
So what if you love crunching numbers and tinkering with robots more than the keeping up with the Kardashians and texting? You've got it going on, my slightly socially awkward friend — and that's upstairs where it especially counts.
In case you didn't know it, geek is chic (horn-rimmed glasses optional). Here are 10 reasons to be proud of your STEM talents. Spread the word because nerd is the new awesome.
Need Convincing? Keep Reading
Confession Time: Are You A STEM Geek?
Rockin' That Geek Style
Reason #1: Stem Talents Are Super Freaking Important
Science saves lives. Technology connects people. Engineering improves the quality of life. And math — well, math underlies it all.
The world needs your STEM talents, and even more than that, your country does. Consider it your civic duty to pursue your passion for STEM. Why?
Much of Asia and Europe has outpaced U.S. student achievement in science and math. The PISA test (Program for International Student Assessment) is a global gauge of 15-year-olds' science, math, and reading literacy. Unfortunately, the latest results show U.S. students' average math scores came in at a lackluster 36th out of 65 countries.1
Meanwhile, our science scores didn't fare much better, ranking 28th out of 65 countries. Latvia, the Slovak Republic and Estonia beat us. Seriously. We're getting our clocks cleaned!
STEM-strong students are problem solvers with important skills. They are critical thinkers who are logic-agile. STEM students are innovators and inventors who will create new products and processes to sustain our economy in the future. We need you, my geeky friend!
Yay You! Thumbs up for STEM Nerds
America needs a world-class STEM workforce to address the grand challenges of the 21st century, such as developing clean sources of energy that reduce our dependence on foreign oil and discovering cures for cancer.— John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
America Needs More STEM-Strong Workers
Why Society Needs You: Grand Challenges That Scientists and Engineers Face
Design a technology to ensure safe drinking water across the globe. Or, develop one which generates off-grid water and energy from organic waste.
Engineer a brain-to-computer interface that turns thoughts into action.
Invent a way to survey the world's oceans using an autonomous underwater vehicle for data collection.
Discover how to reverse the effects of aging.
Make teletransportation possible.
Develop a system that continuously monitors an individual's health status and detects disease or illness early.
Pioneer a method for reprogramming genes to prevent disease.
Develop new forms of sustainable, carbon-negative fuels
Engineer a single crop to deliver all dietary nutrients.
Science Is Super Cool
Reason #2: Low-Key Pizzazz—You Have Passion, Energy and Excitement for What You Love
You understand that pizzazz doesn't come in just one flavor — that brash, live-out-loud variety that seems to attract so much attention. It also comes in quieter, more subtle forms. Your form.
You're not only able to live your love of rocketry, statistics, or quantum physics but you're also able to convey it to others in a way that energizes and excites them. You make STEM more vivid and accessible by explaining it in real terms. You connect STEM topics to what-ifs and forward-leaning ideas that people care about. And that makes you hip.
Don't Be Ashamed of Your Low-Key Nerd Vibe
Reason #3: Where Others See Problems, You See Possibilities
You are intellectually dauntless, and that's really cool. Imagine where we'd be if the inventors of important technologies and conveniences had just given up. Instead, nerds have bestowed us with GPS, lasers, the light bulb, air conditioning, antibiotics, ultrasound, the internet, and so much more.
You're hip because you're not afraid to flex your mental muscle. Geeks like you consider roadblocks as a personal call to action. You're ready to roll up your sleeves and do the mental heavy lifting that comes with problem solving. And for that we salute you!
That's Right! Own It, Geeky Girl!
Reason #4: Clark Kent to Superman (Need I Say More?)
Mild-mannered, inquisitive, smart. Clark Kent rocked the nerd persona. (Sure, he was a journalist rather than a STEM geek, but that's a minor detail.)
In his transition to Superman, Clark Kent demonstrated that geeks and their talents can wield some mind-blowing super powers if you know what to look for. When it comes to STEM geeks, those super powers are often ideas.
Consider the nerdy examples of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Each has changed the face of technology. If you've ever Googled, tweeted, friended someone on FaceBook, or used Excel or PowerPoint, then your life has been touched by a super nerd.
Loving the Nerd Life
Reason #5: You Surround Yourself With Other Smart, Hip, Creative People
Contemporary motivational speaker Jim Rohn proclaimed, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” You understand that friends can either help you grow or hold you back.
You're not content being the smartest person in the room. Instead, you continually seek the company of people who challenge you and make you think. You invest the time and energy to connect with idea people, action-oriented types, forward-thinkers, and other out-of-the-box STEM creatives. This makes for one quirky group of comrades, and it's another reason you're so awesome.
Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking. In organizations it’s called team building. And in life it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.— Michael Dell
Reason #6: You Can Pivot Between Pop Culture and Nerd Nirvana
If you're anything, my geeky friend, it is versatile. You can easily pivot between the latest Avengers movie and scientific debates over which stunts were CGI (computer-generated imagery).
You segue from Duck Dynasty to the latest NASA news like nobody's business. (Because really everything's related, right?) And you can transition from Internet cat memes to World of Warcraft games before the person you're talking to can say, "Now wait. What?"
That, dear geekster, takes mental speed and interpersonal agility. Tell the other guy to keep up with your awesomeness.
Reason #7: You Actually Understand How the World Works
You didn't just sail through math and science. You eat that stuff for lunch and want more. You know that STEM isn't just textbook stuff. It's real life.
You understand how the world works and can answer questions that perplex the rest of humankind, such as:
- how airplanes get off the ground
- why you shouldn't put metal in a microwave
- why pi is such a big deal
- whether the universe is literally expanding and
- what the Internet "cloud" is.
Reason #8: You Have the Opportunity to Pursue a Career You Love While Being Handsomely Rewarded for It
Let's face it: work is work. You'll spend 40-50 years immersed in a career, so you might as well do what you love, right? And it sure helps if that something pays well! STEM jobs are not only super exciting and rewarding careers but many of them (particularly in the computing and engineering fields) don't require more than a bachelor's degree to earn a good wage.
STEM jobs represent about 10% of American jobs.3 They generally pay about double the U.S. annual average wage and enjoy lower than average unemployment. Nationwide, about half of the current STEM workforce in advanced manufacturing and engineering is nearing retirement, so the career prospects are excellent. That's pretty awesome, isn't it?
Average Annual Salaries: Select STEM Occupations
Average Annual Salary
Biochemists & Biophysicsts
Computer & Info. Research Scientists
Computer Systems Analysts
Information Security Analyst
Nerds At Work: So Much Fun It's UnrealClick thumbnail to view full-size
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.— Confucius
Reason #9: You Have Some of the Best Tech Gadgets Around
You've graduated from Star Wars action figures (mostly) and Legos to some of the coolest tech gadgets available. Everyone around you knows that you're first in line when in comes to the new iThingy. And drones, digital eyewear and activity trackers? You not only own 'em but you can also fix and improve them (that is, if you wanted to).
Reason #10: Geeks Make Faithful, Reliable Partners and Friends
This is perhaps the best kept secret around. Geeks make fabulous friends and partners. Beneath the glasses and slight social awkwardness, there's a fantastic human being — down-to-earth, sincere, stable, and attentive.
Nerds are both well-read and well-educated, and those who can keep up with you find that you have a great sense of humor. You don't intend to come across as insensitive, and when you do you are quick to make amends. It should be no wonder that most engineers have a divorce rate under 13%.
A good problem solver, you offer free tech support to your inner circle of peeps and sometimes to perfect strangers. You are reliable and invest in your relationships. You remember birthdays, plan your fun, and offer fascinating facts about the world that no one else would have known to ask.
All of these these, my nerdy friend, make you awesome!
Nerds Make Awesome Friends
Places With Names Associated With Nerds and Geeks
You're STEM-tastic, My Chic Geek Friend!
1"Program for International Student Assessment (PISA): 2012 Results - Mathematics Literacy: Average Scores." National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Accessed August 1, 2015. http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/pisa2012/pisa2012highlights_3a.asp.
2"Program for International Student Assessment (PISA): 2012 Results - Science Literacy: Average Scores." National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Accessed August 1, 2015. http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/pisa2012/pisa2012highlights_4a.asp.
3Dill, Kathryn. "The Top Paying STEM Jobs For Recent Grads." Forbes. Last modified July 3, 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2014/07/03/the-top-paying-stem-jobs-for-recent-grads/.
4Bidwell, Allie. "STEM Workforce No More Diverse Than 14 Years Ago - US News." US News & World Report. Last modified February 24, 2015. http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2015/02/24/stem-workforce-no-more-diverse-than-14-years-ago.
© 2015 Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies