Of the 120 girls in Fenella Atkinson’s class, only nine took the top level exam for physics this year, a statistic that’s troubling to Fenella because she said that “in my school, there is not enough focus on science.”
For a company like Broadcom, which actively supports the advancement of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for young people through the Broadcom Foundation, the statistic represents the larger need for schools to do more to encourage middle schoolers to stick with STEM.
“It’s good that companies like Broadcom are encouraging more students to be involved,” Fenella said.
Fenella, 15, of Gilford, U.K., was one of 23 aspiring young engineers and scientists from 13 countries who visited Broadcom’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif., this week and received a glimpse into STEM careers in action.
Two internal employee groups, the Broadcom Multicultural Network (BMCN) and Broadcom Women’s Network (BWN), hosted the 2014 Broadcom MASTERS® International delegates who hailed from Australia, Canada, China, Finland, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S. They were awarded a trip to the United States by their national science fairs based on their acumen for science or engineering and their leadership potential. The delegation also included two Orange County middle school students from the Broadcom MASTERS Junior Varsity Program who are the “2014 Host Delegates” to the Broadcom MASTERS International.
After a photo session with the Broadcom Foundation Board, the MASTERS delegation received a warm welcome and introduction to the company from Broadcom President and CEO Scott McGregor in the Broadcom Demo Center.
“We want all of you to leave here saying, ‘Wow, this is cool stuff,’” McGregor said. “We need engineers like you to help us build the next generation of great products.”
McGregor stressed the importance of the rigorous STEM education needed to become engineers and scientists and develop skills that are essential to the future of companies like Broadcom. McGregor told his young audience that some 77 percent of Broadcom employees are engineers and almost 1,000 hold Ph.Ds, demonstrating that engineering and math skills are valued throughout the entire organization. He also pointed out that in our global industry, Broadcom MASTERS “don’t have to leave [their] home countries to work for Broadcom some day.”
During a guided tour by Broadcom engineers, the MASTERS delegates experienced Broadcom silicon and software at work in some of the world’s most in-demand consumer electronics, including the Nintendo WiiU, the latest Samsung smartphones, tablets, super speedy 5G WiFi routers, and the popular Raspberry Pi microcomputers.
The delegates then made their way to a high-energy “Salute” luncheon complete with a rocking welcome video showcasing their science and engineering projects that was developed by the Broadcom Communications team. Luncheon guests donned special red and white “MASTERS ’14” basketball jerseys and sat down to tables colorfully decorated with the national flags of each delegate’s home countries. Those present included members of the BMCN and BWN as well as STEM education leaders and volunteers from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. Delegates were seated by country next to volunteer engineers who, in many cases, hailed from their country and spoke their native tongue.
After welcoming remarks from Executive Vice President of Human Resources Terri Timberman, Broadcom Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Technical Officer Henry Samueli addressed the company’s honored guests, emphasizing Broadcom’s goal to foster MASTERS programs at science fairs in the countries where Broadcom employees live and work.
Samueli encouraged the delegates to “take the time today to talk with an engineer and discover what engineering is all about and be inspired,” to continue their STEM education.
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Broadcom Foundation Executive Director and Broadcom Director of Community Affairs Paula Golden then tasked all the guests to brainstorm around six “Grand Challenges” where technology-based solutions and Broadcom chips might lead to innovative world breakthroughs in medical care, transportation, Internet security, energy, and sustainability. Lively discussions in multiple languages at each table resulted in some high-flying solutions to global issues.
Saad Nasser, a delegate from Bangalore, India, spoke up for his team about achieving sustainable transportation, making note of his favorite car — a Tesla Model S – because it combines technology and power.
He was similarly effusive about his Broadcom MASTERS International experience, which had already included an academic tour of a 3-D printing laboratory at the University of California at Irvine.
“I have met lots of very impressive and interesting people,” Nasser said. “I have already made a lot of friends.”
The Broadcom MASTERS is a partnership between Broadcom Foundation and the Society for Science and the Public that promotes project-based learning for sixth, seventh and eighth graders through science and engineering fair competition.
“Broadcom is honored to host these remarkable students,” said Maria Wronski, Broadcom Foundation treasurer and associate director for Broadcom MASTERS. “We’re particularly thankful to our many employee volunteers who have come out in such great numbers to support the endeavors of these future engineers, scientists and innovators.”