STEM vs. STEAM: Broadening Career Opportunities

For over 30 years, educators and employers have used the term STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to categorise the skills and job opportunities across industries such as aviation and aerospace. More recently, the acronym STEAM has become more widely used, with the additional A standing for Art. 

In July, the global aerospace industry welcomed the future workforce to Pioneers of Tomorrow— a designated day at Farnborough International Airshow for future leaders to discover, experience and explore the world of aerospace and to experience what the sector had to offer

What is STEAM?

Now encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths, the opportunities for those with a passion for aerospace have never been better. The addition of Art is also broader than one might think as it covers anything creative from graphic design, literature, photography, performing arts and many more. 

For a long time, focus on STEM skills was driven by what employers deemed the most desirable but we are now experiencing a fundamental shift that demonstrates the value of Art. The inclusion of Art broadens the horizons for people’s careers and enables individuals with a wide range of skill sets to come together under one industry. 

STEAM and the Aerospace Industry

The link between the aerospace industry and STEAM is an obvious one. What gets planes and rockets safely into the air and back down if not science, technology, engineering and maths? The incorporation of Art at first seems slightly irrelevant but in fact, incorporates many transferable skills already at play. Art adds a new dimension to how we approach work, including the requirement of soft skills (communication, adaptability, time management, etc.) but also fundamentally encompasses the most important aspect, creativity. 

This isn’t anything new, Art and the other STEAM fields have always worked in collaboration. The best, most exciting ways forward are found when art and science work hand-in-hand. Aerospace innovation thrives on the imagination of artists, the precise skills of mathematicians, and the logical minds of engineers and scientists. Let’s look at some of the best examples:

Examples of STEAM Innovations

  • Photography. The invention of photography and film in the 19th century is a perfect example of the symbiotic relationship between science and art. Technological advances drove the creation of real-life image captures. These soon developed into forms of art, which drove further innovations and this revolutionary circle is still turning today with VR technology.
  • History of Flight. For hundreds of years, humanity had pondered the possibility of flight. Perhaps the perfect example of how close science and the arts were in envisioning aerospace was Leonardo DaVinci. Whilst many know DaVinci for his famous paintings his creativity can also be observed in the hundreds of design sketches for early flying machines. 
  • NFTs. NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are everywhere in 2022. Creatives of all kinds, from graphic artists to pop stars, are using them to give their audience something digital but unique — something that can’t be shared all over social media. This has become possible thanks to blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. These digital innovations were quickly seized upon by similarly innovative artists, who saw their creative (and profit-making) potential and perfectly blended art with precise science. 

STEM and Art – lifelong companions

It is a common misconception that Art and technical sciences do not mix, however, there are countless examples of famous scientists who have excelled at both.  

One of the most obvious examples would be Leonardo Da Vinci, a brilliant scientist, inventor and theorist who was also a talented artist. Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics, was also a great violinist. Beatrix Potter was a famous scientist, author as well as illustrator. 

A few of the most recent examples include Brian May, an English musician and astrophysicist, who achieved fame as a lead guitarist of the rock band Queen. Brian Cox, an English physicist and TV personality was also a member of the band Dare. One of the longest-running animated TV shows, The Simpsons, is written by several mathematicians who hold PhDs from Harvard and Yale Universities. The list goes on and on. 

Where is the Aerospace Industry heading?

These are exciting times in the aerospace industry and employers need skilled, enthusiastic people to become a part of it. If you’re a graduate, apprentice or simply looking to switch your career up, the time has never been better to get involved in work that means something, adds value and helps to create practical solutions to some of the issues facing the world today.

The world is facing all kinds of problems, particularly when it comes to the environment and sustainability. The aerospace industry is already playing a vital role in finding practical solutions to these issues and as we’ve seen, problem-solving relies on all kinds of creative and logical minds working together — in other words, employees with STEAM skills.

If you have any questions about future Pioneers of Tomorrow events or would like to tell us about a STEAM related event, then please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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