Huffington Post: Lost In The Fifties, Middle America Needs STEM Education & Infrastructure

By: Paula Golden, President of Broadcom Foundation

At a post-mortem forum on the 2016 U.S. election, Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox had choice words for those who elected Donald Trump. Yearning for the manufacturing glory days of yesteryear, American workers were seduced by a sloganeer who promised to “Make America Great Again.” But, said Fox, the world has moved on, and their jobs with it. Instead of attending community colleges to pick up critical skills and proficiencies that would have enabled them to transition into jobs of the future, American workers “went home to down a few beers.”

A sardonic critique from a politician on the other side of Trump’s ‘great wall’ designed to keep jobs in and émigrés out?  Not so. 

Donald Trump perpetuated the destructive myth about our nation’s infallibility held by many in Middle America, especially workers in Coal Country and the Rust Belt whose family fortunes rose in the 1950’s when the United States dominated manufacturing and production while other nations crawled out from under the rubble of World War II. Trump made them believe that the jobs in the factories and mills will magically return with the stroke of his presidential pen.

This is a lie. Fox said manufacturing jobs of the Fifties are gone forever, and the American worker has wasted precious time by failing to get on the train to a better future.

In the years following the World War, defeated and underdeveloped countries (many with their own storied histories of innovation) have leaped over the 20th century and into the 21st, with high-tech infrastructures and ambitious, gritty workforces eager to compete in global manufacturing and commerce. If you need proof, just catch a bullet train out of Tokyo, pass through the airports in Singapore or Beijing or visit a high-tech factory in Tijuana.

Resting on its laurels during the latter half of the “American Century,” the United States took a noblesse oblige attitude toward STEM education. Kids with a penchant for science, technology, engineering or math were pejoratively called nerds or geeks. Less rigorous majors became the gentile aspiration of many kids heading into college. Short-sighted state governments have underfunded their classrooms, cut courses that fostered critical thinking and creativity, failed to require a STEM certification for K-8 grade teachers and limited access to STEM literacy courses that would move the entire high school class – not just those kids who were bound for universities – toward meaningful STEM jobs that do not require college.

Meanwhile, American workers, and the governments they elected, remained rapt in Fifties mythology and buying, not making became the false floor of the American economy.

Credit: Engineering Course, Southeast Community College

Credit: Engineering Course, Southeast Community College

Recently released PISA scores are sounding alarm bells: they show that the United States had an 11 point drop in the average score for math and has a flat score in reading and science. Our ability to compete in the global marketplace is in peril. And even before he takes the oath of office, Trump is steering our ship of state even closer to the rocks.

The majority of Trump’s cabinet picks are on record as anti-labor, anti-education and science-averse, with no experience governing in a federal system.  Alarmingly, his nominee for Secretary of Education, billionaire Betsy DeVos is openly antagonistic toward public education upon which millions and millions of Middle America’s families rely and which she pejoratively refers to as “government schools.”  DeVos plans to divert our tax dollars to private, religious or charter schools.  Education historian Diane Ravitch says of DeVos, “[N]ever has anyone been appointed to lead in the past 150 years who was hostile to public education.”

If confirmed, Ms. DeVos will be embolden by a latter day Know-Nothing Congress that has opposed spending on major education reform and investment on our national infrastructure for decades.

I have written that as a matter of national security, we must educate our entire workforce to become STEM literate and proficient in 21st century skills and build a futuristic infrastructure that can sustain competition in a global economy if we are to avoid further economic and societal decline. Trump’s democratic opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton called for a massive retraining program for our workforce and developing an infrastructure to support 21st century enterprise. Trump and Congress needs to heed her call and change their course before it is too late for all of us.

Changing course requires a massive investment of trillions of dollars, and Trump’s intention to lower taxes for the rich shows reckless disregard for the future of this country and the working people who elected him. The tax bracket for the wealthiest among us has been in decline since 1956 during the much-vaunted Eisenhower Administration when the top tax bracket was between 80-90%. Today, when our education and infrastructure investment needs are the greatest in history, the highest tax bracket is at 39.6%.  Unconscionable.

If we are to regain a modicum of the preeminence enjoyed in the Fifties, we need to pay to play.  The top 20 percent of our society must pay a greater percentage in taxes, and tax incentives for businesses should not line the pockets of those in the C-Suite, but create rewards for retraining and hiring local workers of all ages.

And the American worker must accept the realities of global change. Steel worker-turned-HVAC-instructor, Dennis Matney said: it is time to pay.  He noted that everybody in manufacturing should invest some time in more education. “I think that you can resist change all you like. But it’s going to happen regardless. You might as well get with the program.”

Broadcom MASTERS Alum Wins First Prize from EU

River Grace’s Passion for Biology Reaps Continued Rewards in STEM

Perpetual curiosity and a passion for animals has propelled River Grace, 17 of Melbourne, Florida from winning the Samueli Prize at the Broadcom MASTERS in 2013 to his 1st place finish at the 2016 European Union (EU) Contest for Young Scientists last month. One of only 3 Americans invited to compete, Grace brought home a big win for the United States for his investigations of the brahminy blindsnake’s central nervous system.2016-9-river-eucys-high-res

“I was both astounded and deeply grateful to have been selected for the honor of 1st place, and delighted to represent my nation and meet other young scientists who had a passion for knowledge, just like me – actually this reminded me a lot of the Broadcom MASTERS!” Grace said.

Grace’s investigation uncovered that the blindsnake has functional eyes (no one […]

By | November 9th, 2016|


The American Dream needs a STEM Literacy Movement

“Just think, your grandchildren are going to grow up knowing a black man and a woman as their presidents,” mused my daughter as we celebrated my grandson’s fifth birthday in a public park on a beautiful fall day, anywhere in America.

Her words gave me pause as I prepare to make one last case for the importance of a STEM literacy movement in the United States during the 2016 election cycle. My image of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on West Front of the Capitol next January stands in sharp relief to the yawning chasm of STEM literacy and workforce preparedness between children of privilege and underserved youth, young men and women, and children whose parents have deep roots in this country and those who perilously crossed oceans and borders to realize the American Dream.

There is a dark undercurrent beneath partisan howls of […]

By | November 3rd, 2016|

UCI School of Engineering School Bestows ‘Ingenuity Award’ to President Paula Golden

UCI Ingenuity Paula Greg 2016On May 29, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) recognized student innovation and lauded STEM education trailblazer, Paula Golden, President of Broadcom Foundation, at Ingenuity 2016, held by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Watch the video here.

Recognized for promoting inclusion, equity and access to STEM education, Golden has not only initiated the Broadcom MASTERS® and Broadcom MASTERS® International,, middle school science and engineering competitions, but has also introduced computer coding to thousands of middle-school students who are under-represented in computing fields through programs such as Broadcom Presents: Design CODE_Build.

These renowned programs, among others that include Stem Ecosystem Initiatives, fulfill the mission of the Broadcom Foundation: to create opportunity and promote equitable access to STEM education for the […]

By | May 29th, 2016|

Broadcom MASTERS “Took Me to the Next Level,” Say Alumni

Reunion group Just what does it mean to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS?

Paula Golden, President and Executive Director, Broadcom Foundation and Director, Community Affairs, Broadcom Corporation, asked six Broadcom MASTERS alumni from 2011-2014 to reflect on their experiences with the 2015 class. Each of the six had remarkably gone on to distinguish themselves as competitors and winners in other STEM competitions, internships at Stanford and the NASA Ames Research Center and share their STEM passions with elected officials at all levels, including President Barack Obama.

Overwhelmingly, they agreed that Broadcom MASTERS changed their lives.

“Broadcom MASTERS cemented my love of science. Everyone there encouraged me to stay in the field,” said Holly Jackson, 2014 Samueli Foundation prize winner. “When I came back to school, I got to share my experience with teachers and students, which was very touching for […]

By | December 23rd, 2015|

Broadcom MASTERS Alumna Wins $100,000 Grand Prize in Siemens Competition

At only 12 years old, middle schooler Maria Elena Grimmett from Jupiter, Fla., became a 2011 Broadcom MASTERS finalist, later winning the Mathematics Prize at the 2012 Broadcom MASTERS.

Fast-forward to today: Grimmett continued to research her passion for curbing water pollution (mostly from her family’s dining room table) to identify a new water purification method. Her efforts culminated in a $100,000 scholarship prize from the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, the nation’s premier research competition for high school students. Read more about Grimmett’s award here.Maria Grimmett Siemens Competition Siemens

“I was shaking on the stage,” Grimmett, now 17, said of her win. “It’s the most amazing feeling in the world, especially when I was put up against the other finalists. It is such an honor and has been an amazing journey.”

Collaboration is Key

Grimmett was 10 when she […]

By | December 16th, 2015|

Broadcom India Employees Rally to Package 30,000 Meals for Chennai Flood Victims

Stop Hunger Now India Floods RESIZEIn rapid response to the devastating floods in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu, India, Broadcom employees teamed up with Stop Hunger Now to package some 30,000 meals in just two hours, meals that will provide much needed relief to more than affected 5,000 families in the stricken region.

Broadcom Foundation’s emergency response reserve fund enabled 100 Broadcom employees and their families to pack highly nutritious meals that include locally grown rice and spices, dal and provide 23 essential vitamins and minerals.

“We thank the Broadcom team for their immediate response to the flooding that has prevented several thousand families from going back to their homes and starting normal lives again,” said Dola Mohapatra, Director of Stop Hunger Now in India. “With Broadcom’s support, we opened the first Stop Hunger Now facility in India early […]

By | December 14th, 2015|

Defining a Leader: Avery Clowes Captures Inaugural Scott A. McGregor Leadership Award

Many try to define what it takes to be a leader – a recent Inc. Magazine article listed confidence, decisiveness and honesty as key traits. But, how are these qualities nurtured in young people?

Some may say becoming a leader starts with formative experience– such as the Broadcom MASTERS program.

Last month, 30 middle school finalists were chosen from all over the country and flown to Silicon Valley for a rigorous, weeklong competition that tested their mastery of STEM principles and team leadership. With challenging competitions each day coupled with team building activities throughout the week, the finalists quickly got to know each other and how to work together.

Unbeknownst to the finalists they were asked to elect a “class speaker” at the end of the competition. They were asked to elect one of their peers who demonstrated leadership qualities throughout the week. Avery Clowes, 13, from Bolton Mass. was elected […]

By | November 10th, 2015|

Tapping the Force: The Art of Making Star Wars Illuminates STEAM Careers

Paula Golden in red T-shirt“May the force be with you” is the renowned salute intoned in the 20th century by a Jedi Master on May 25, 1977, when George Lucas first gathered us into his mythological realm in the Galaxy Far-Far-Away. For Star Wars fans all over the world, the phrase has special meanings – and it has personal significance for me as I push “send” to buy advanced tickets to take my grandson to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which debuts in the 21st century this winter.

As a former educator-turned-STEM philanthropist for the Broadcom Foundation, I have long wished to join the conversation about supporting art alongside science, technology, engineering, and math education. In my mind, Star Wars Episode VII provides the perfect catalyst for math, science and art teachers to pull out a copy of […]

By | November 3rd, 2015|

Career Panel Inspires Broadcom MASTERS to “Pursue the Unknown”

‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is the question most often posed to teenagers.

Career Day McGregor resize Scott McGregor, President and CEO of Broadcom, speaks with a group of Broadcom MASTERS finalists.

At a gathering with STEM professionals from academia to industry, this year’s 30 Broadcom MASTERS finalists took a front row seat to their futures. The Broadcom MASTERS students explored potential career choices, mined for inspiration and took home some valuable lessons from seven panelists.

The panelists, who hailed from positions like CEO, CTO and professor, had something in common with the finalists – they have all participated in a science competition of Society for Science & the Public (SSP). Along with the soon-to-be Broadcom MASTERS alum, that’s a lot of STEM brainpower in one room!

  • Ken Biba, Managing Director and Chief Technical […]
By | November 2nd, 2015|

Tapping Communities to Develop Local Engineering Talent

What if you could open the front door through a sensor in your hand? And when guests come to the door, their photo is sent from the doorstep to your phone so you can identify them? These are the kinds of “Internet of Things” (IoT) technologies that students from under-served communities conceived, designed, built and then socialized in a summer program called ASPIRE/INSPIRE, sponsored by Broadcom Foundation.

ASPIRE/INSPIRE (Aspire to Dream, Inspire to Motivate) seeks high-achieving community college and high school students from underserved communities in southern California who demonstrate a passion for engineering and computer science.

Photo Credit: Matt Miller, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences Photo Credit: Matt Miller, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences

The free, two-week project-based engineering and computer science program brought 30 high-achieving high school and community college students from groups underrepresented […]

By | October 13th, 2015|

2015 Broadcom MASTERS® Grand Prize Winner Annie Ostojic Engineers Microwave Efficiency

Annie OstojicIMG_8034 2015 MASTERS Grand Prize Winner Annie Ostojic.

Some science experiments don’t require a big lab, expensive equipment or complex research methodologies to yield high-impact data.

That’s one of the lessons learned by this year’s Broadcom MASTERS® Grand Prize winner: Annie Ostojic, 13, of Munster, Ind., among other important discoveries she’s acquired through an exploration of physics, food science and materials engineering.

MASTERS 2015 group shot Photo Credit: The Society for Science and the Public

View all of the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS winners here.

Ostojic said that as a child, her natural curiosity grew while doing what she described as “kitchen science” with her family.

Inspired by the less-than-appetizing results of an unevenly heated frozen dinner, Ostojic set out to experiment with various types of food, […]

By | October 7th, 2015|

Broadcom MASTERS Practice Teamwork and Perseverance with Help from a “Tech-lebrity”

On the last day of the competition, Broadcom MASTERS finalists convened at the Computer History Museum to collaborate on challenges using a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, a low-cost, credit-card sized computer that taps Broadcom silicon. With a few shrieks and shocked looks, finalists greeted Eben Upton, co-creator of the Raspberry Pi and head of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

MASTERS 2015 Eben with Red Team Raspberry Pi cofounder Eben Upton with Red Team.

“I really enjoyed meeting the creator of Raspberry Pi because the computer was the main technology in my science project,” said one finalist.

Upton met with each team, sharing his experiences, providing tips on coding and encouraging each finalist to follow his or her passion.

“We started Raspberry Pi to solve a local problem – the collapse in students wanting to study computer programming,” Upton, a U.K.-based technical director for […]

By | October 6th, 2015|

Broadcom MASTERS 2015: Opening Competition Events Make for a Weekend Whirlwind

Upon arriving in San Jose, Calif., the 30 Broadcom MASTERS finalists (all middle school aged aspiring scientists and engineers) had little time to be think as they met their new team members and competed in ice breaker challenges such as Lego building, a giant Jenga game and a brainteaser about tying a rope together, all of which forced them to communicate and problem solve.

Collaboration, communication and teamwork will be stressed throughout the competition. “In the Broadcom MASTERS, it is important that members of a team quickly learn the strengths of each individual member and how they can efficiently and creatively tap into their collective talents to solve problems,” said Paula Golden, President of the Broadcom Foundation and Director, Community Affairs, Broadcom. “Collaborating together to engage in critical thinking, communication and creativity are the 21st century skills young people need to succeed as scientists and engineers – and in life.”

By | October 5th, 2015|

2015 Broadcom MASTERS® Finalists Set to Impact the Engineering Grand Challenges of Our Time

As we look back on five years of the Broadcom MASTERS, we can’t help but be awestruck by the talent, passion and ambition thousands of MASTERS competitors have to face big issues impacting the world today.

The National Academy of Engineering has defined 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century in categories such as health, joy of living, sustainability and security.  As innovative technologies opened access to information and design tools, there are endless ways to innovate and engineer solutions to modern problems.  That’s what our 2015 finalists are doing at the Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s leading science and engineering fair at the middle school level.

Meet the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS finalists Meet the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS finalists

Representing the best of the best among tens of thousands of competitors at from regional and state […]

By | October 2nd, 2015|

Broadcom MASTERS® – Five Years of Mastering Science and Engineering in Middle School

October 1st marks the fifth year of our sponsorship of the Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s leading science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition for middle school students.

As Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science and the Public prepare for the 30 national finalists to congregate in Silicon Valley for the competition, it is a great time to reflect on how 120 Broadcom MASTERS alumni and over 50 Broadcom MASTERS International delegates are continuing to enhance their mastery of STEM.

The Broadcom MASTERS, an elite corps of winners among 75,000 nominees and 10,000 applicants in the U.S. and 13 international competitions in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America, South Africa and Australia, have gone on to do incredible things in science and engineering, in high school, university, unique internships, STEM camps and world-renowned competitions.

In 2014 alone, Broadcom MASTERS alumni have risen as champions of the […]

By | September 29th, 2015|

Broadcom Israel Inspires Young Women to Stick with STEM

Girls Israel 2015 2 Resize At MadaTech, participants build a feeding device for a dog

More than 50 Broadcom volunteers in Israel are taking their successful STEM volunteering program one step further by focusing on an at-risk demographic – young women.

It’s no secret that women in engineering are poorly represented. In the U.S., women make up only 12 percent of working engineers, based on statistics from the AAUW in 2013. The numbers are higher in Israel, at about 35 percent, according to 2013 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, but that’s still far from ideal.

Broadcom volunteers in Israel are seeking to change this by focusing on young women in middle school. It’s a particularly critical age where many female students who are at the critical stage where they will decide to continue down a science and technology […]

By | September 16th, 2015|

Community Hero: Amrutha Sreekantapuram Connects with Students in Bangalore

Editor’s Note: Broadcom Community Heroes  recognizes civic engagement and volunteerism by Broadcom employees around the globe, who may nominate themselves or their colleagues for recognition under guidelines set forth by Broadcom Foundation. The Community Engagement Committee honors these employees with a $500 gift in their honor from a list of qualifying charities. In this series on the blog, we’ll profile each Community Hero to share stories about their interests and work benefiting their communities around the world.

For Amrutha Sreekantapuram, a Senior Engineer in IC Design in Bangalore, India, volunteerism has always been a natural gateway to remain engaged within the community. Sreekantapuram is a firm believer in working for a grass roots cause, which is why she invests her free time to the Project LOTUS initiative. Project LOTUS (Linking Organization To Underprivileged Schools) is a  program that focuses on providing quality education for students living in […]

By | September 9th, 2015|

Meet the Broadcom MASTERS® — 30 Finalists Take on Silicon Valley for the First Time

This year’s cohort of Broadcom MASTERS finalists are already proving that they are unafraid to march into their future as STEM leaders.

From designing hydraulic solar panels and safer headgear for soccer to engineering water conservation devices, these middle school MASTERS are already working on important societal challenges.

Selected from a national pool of 300 semifinalists, this elite group of thirty finalists are ready to compete in Silicon Valley next month where they will vie for cash and other awards.

Finalists from the 2014 Broadcom MASTERS work on a team competition Finalists from the 2014 Broadcom MASTERS work on a team competition

The 2015 Broadcom MASTERS will face off in a series of team challenges that test their acumen in STEM skills as well as their 21st century skills: How well do they demonstrate critical thinking, foster collaboration and communicate their goals? How do […]

By | September 2nd, 2015|

300 of the Best and Brightest: Broadcom MASTERS Semifinalists Unveiled

App MASTERS Resized Finalists from Broadcom MASTERS 2014 work on a team competition.

What sparks a student to stay with STEM?

Perhaps it’s the urge to explore, the quest to discover something new or to find an answer to an entirely novel question. For others, maybe it’s pursuing enthusiasm for a hobby or activity that deepens when tested with the scientific method. For others, it’s the chance to prove that he or she can figure out a solution to an important social or environmental challenge.

Take, for example, this year’s crop of semifinalists’ projects for the 5th annual Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s most prestigious STEM competition for middle school students. Topics ranged from computer science and engineering to health and behavioral sciences. Students submitted projects that entitled: “Honey, I Found A Cure! Nature’s Healing Agent/Anti-Inflammatory,” “Communication Protocol: Self-driving Vehicles at Intersections,” and […]

By | August 19th, 2015|

Community Hero: Manan Patel Pays it Forward to Students

Editor’s Note: Broadcom Community Heroes  recognizes civic engagement and volunteerism by Broadcom employees around the globe, who may nominate themselves or their colleagues for recognition under guidelines set forth by Broadcom Foundation. The Community Engagement Committee honors these employees with a $500 gift in their honor from a list of qualifying charities. In this series on the blog, we’ll profile each Community Hero to share stories about their interests and work benefiting their communities around the world.

Actively serving BAPS charities for seven years and counting, Manan Patel, a software development engineer in San Diego, remembers last year’s acts of volunteerism at BAPS first annual Walkathon. The proceeds from that event supported several initiatives including MAP Foundation for Academic Success, which is an organization that funds college scholarships for Escondido Union High School. Beyond Manan’s dedication to BAPS, he is a pioneer for […]

By | August 10th, 2015|
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A Woman’s Path to a STEM Career is through COLLABORATION

By: Paula Golden, President of Broadcom Foundation

Chronicling the first 75 years of the Digital Revolution, Innovators author Walter Isaacson wrote, “it is teamwork, not rugged individualism that ignites groundbreaking innovation in science and technology.”

The Broadcom MASTERS®, the premier national middle school competition organized by Society for Science & the Public, is a direct descendent of the Wessfchronicle_photo-3tinghouse Science Talent Search, which was founded toward the end of World War II when Isaacson’s story begins. The Westinghouse Science Talent Search was created in 1942 to nurture and elevate a generation of science and engineering innovators. Baby Boomers like me remember running in from backyard play on Friday evening to catch the official announcement of the science talent search winner on our black and white television.

When it was founded in 1942, STS competition awarded a prize to the “Top Boy” and “Top Girl.” Then inexplicably in 1948, the competition dropped these designated awards, and winners during the second half of the 20th century tended to be predominantly male.  In the 21st century, this trend has shifted to more females in the STS winner’s circle as the number of female competitors increased.

sfchronicle_photo-1Women make up the vast pool of our nation’s untapped STEM talent, and they are being encouraged to enter professions that once were deemed male-oriented STEM careers.  Notwithstanding this good news, male students are still three times more likely than female students to be interested in pursuing a college major or career in STEM.

It is well known that young women gain or lose interest in STEM subjects by the 8th grade and that encouraging and mentoring young women where they naturally congregate is critical to influencing the elective education choices that they make in high school. Just go to any middle school and you will see girls moving in ‘pods.’  Girls like to talk, to share, to engage each other in common interests and to enjoy social processes that, while natural for them, have not been formally incorporated into STEM pedagogy.sfchronicle_photo-2

To address this, Broadcom Foundation partners with other community and nonprofit stakeholders to bring the excitement of science and engineering to the programs that reach girls in their everyday lives: in afterschool programs like Girls, Inc., out of school group activities such as Girl Scouts and competitions such as the Broadcom MASTERS. In these programs, the key to building an interest in STEM is through a girl’s inclination to socialize with other girls and collaborate in teams.

With educators citing collaboration and communication as two of the four 21st century skills, along with critical thinking and creativity, it
makes sense to tap into young women’s natural inclination to work together and collaborate in teams in order to inspire long-term interest and excitement in STEM subjects. In doing so, STEM-minded girls will be inspired and encouraged to apply their natural gifts to stay excited about science, technology, engineering and math into high school, college – and beyond.

About Broadsfchronicle_photo-4com Foundation

Broadcom Foundation supports programs that inspire, educate and deploy the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators who will take on the Grand Challenges of the 21st century.  By creating equitable access to STEM education, all young people can explore, excel and ultimately chose career paths in STEM subjects and become next generation of innovators have the critical 21st century skills that they need to succeed in a global work environment.

Broadcom Foundation focuses its advocacy of STEM education on “Project-Based Learning,” and teamwork, which provides the philosophical underpinnings of its signature programs: Broadcom MASTERS® and Broadcom Presents: Design_CODE_Build.