***Coming This November: US Black Engineer magazine's 2008 Diversity edition will spotlight the careers of some of the most prominent blacks in Information Technology in Q&A profiles.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Math Girls Are the New Norm

I love summer, but the prospect of fall excites me. Why? The National Women of Color Technology Conference arrives shortly. The 13th annual event, in my humble opinion, is the premier gathering for women of color that work, or aspire to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. WOC rocks. If you don’t believe me, just look at who featured at last year's event.


That’s why the news that girls can do math just as well as boys is such a turn-on. Math “geeks” (and I write the word geek with pride and affection) among our daughters, sisters, nieces, mothers, and aunts aren’t aberrations. Math girls are the new norm and a study of the test scores of seven million students in 10 states, published in Science magazine, proves it.

Click here to see a video of the Math Girl news.

OK. Full disclosure. I’m biased because there are female scientists in my family and I edit Women of Color magazine, the sister publication of US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine.


Regardless. The prospect of thousands of women techs and scientists, all of whom are good in math, celebrating their achievements is a delight to anticipate. Nuff said.--Frank McCoy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Raising STEM Achievement … It Takes a Village

US Black Engineer--If it takes a village to raise a child, it’ll take collaborators to raise Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) achievement in the United States. That was the theme of a July 22nd congressional hearing that examined how business-education partnerships can help drive innovation and strengthen STEM education.

Another message was that US corporations, organizations and the federal government must become more engaged.

“It is clear that if we are going to have a constant flow of talent in science and engineering, we need to raise the standards and expectations for what knowledge and skills students need to acquire earlier in the K-12 pipeline,” offered IBM Education Solutions Executive Patricia Sullivan in her testimony.

Melendy Lovett, Texas Instruments president for Education Technology, gave a similar assessment. “We need to address student interest and skills in STEM at all stages of the pipeline, from K-12 through university and graduate-level. Strong math skills are a gating factor for majoring in science or engineering,” Lovett said.

Both Sullivan and Lovett outlined business partnership programs at their respective companies —such as IBM’s Transition to Teaching
program launched in 2006 to train K-12 educators as a way of nurturing the STEM pipeline and TI’s MATHCOUNTS competition that gives seventh and eighth grade “mathletes” the opportunity to race against the clock to solve challenging mathematics problems. Both companies also donate millions of dollars annually in direct contributions and personnel resources.

The hearing was the second look at the findings and recommendations of the National Math Panel. The report concluded that the nation’s system for teaching math “must be fixed” if the United States wants to keep its competitive edge.

One STEM advocate also added, “This truly is a “Paul Revere” moment for our country. – we must spread the alarm that our country is falling behind in math and science achievement and we must shore up our system.”

As an observer of the comparatively woeful numbers of black and Hispanic students taking up STEM fields, I agree wholeheartedly.--M.V. Greene

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Aetna Names a New Chief Technology Officer


Aetna has announced the appointment of Michael G. Mathias, 49, as vice president and chief technology officer, reporting to Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Meg McCarthy. Mathias has been head of enterprise architecture for Aetna Information Systems. Mathias joined Aetna in 1993 as a systems engineering manager. He became head of technology architecture and strategy in 2006 and head of enterprise architecture in 2007. In his new role, Mathias will be responsible for aligning Aetna's technology vision with business strategy by integrating company processes with the appropriate technologies, as well as for all aspects of developing and implementing technology initiatives within the organization.

Mathias became head of technology architecture and strategy in 2006 and head of enterprise architecture in 2007. In his new role, Mathias will be responsible for aligning Aetna's technology vision with business strategy by integrating company processes with the appropriate technologies, as well as for all aspects of developing and implementing technology initiatives within the organization.

"Michael brings strong technical expertise and leadership skills to this position," McCarthy said. "As the head of enterprise architecture for Aetna, he and his team have been on point for driving our technology vision and the resulting strategy. Michael is recognized in the IT industry for his knowledge of database, middleware and web technologies, including their strategic implementations." Before joining Aetna, Mathias served in various managerial, technical and application development capacities with UBS/PaineWebber Inc., Verizon, Educational Testing Service, Macmillan Publishing and Prudential Insurance.