I am getting fed up with the clamor on the part of policy makers for more degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) as the path to success in the United States, especially in cybersecurity. The numbers don’t add up, and the problem of not having enough cybersecurity workers will not be solved in the short term by ramping up four year degree programs in cybersecurity.
I obtained one of those vaunted STEM degrees from the University of Michigan in 1982; a degree in aerospace engineering just when the Space Transportation System (the Shuttle) was in its final production phase and most rocket, jet, and airliner programs were on life support.
But I got lucky. In my last years at U of M, Professor Bill Anderson, a specialist in structures, began teaching graduate level courses in Finite Element Analysis (FEA). He used a new software program called MSC/NASTRAN in each of three semesters. I took every course and became adept at modeling structures and performing stress simulations for optimal design. As graduation approached I responded to a three line ad in the Ann Arbor News looking for aerospace engineering grads with MSC/NASTRAN proficiency. I started my job at Hoover Universal, designing car seat structures and mechanisms, at the beginning of a revolution in automotive design.
By the time I was 25 years old I was owner of an engineering contracting company with 22 employees. I went back to the University of Michigan to address the engineering staff. My thesis: Teach Tools! The response was vehement. Professors stood to denounce me. “This is a research institution! If you want to learn tools go to VoTech!”