While things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) might seem today like fringe jobs that only scientists and technologists work on, that’s far from the truth. As our entire world becomes more reliant on such technologies, the need to have more skilled people to develop, improve and operate them will increase exponentially. It’s happening already.
But to approach the future with the idea that we can continue to discount the role of technology in our lives is to not see the full picture. For example, a world of automation does not mean a world with no jobs. It just means that those jobs might look very different. Instead of human workers dominating a shipping facility by packing boxes, robots will be the ones packing the boxes with the humans being the ones monitoring and optimizing the technology. This requires a foundational level understanding of robotics that cannot be attained with our current educational methods.
One way to think about it is to consider what a current teaching approach to robotics might entail. In our current approach, a teacher with no special knowledge about robotics teaches from a lesson plan to students at a theoretical level and then tests them on a limited range of material.
In a STEM-focused approach, a teacher would guide students with the foundation of robotics, require them to actually build and operate a robot, and then keep reinforcing the skills through practice that goes way beyond a “test it and forget it” approach.
It’s through this approach that will allow students to work side-by-side with these emerging technologies and create a better world.