Khanjan Mehta 2016-02-26 23:59:13
Many in science, technology, and innovation want to channel their passion and education to improve the human condition, especially for the most vulnerable. They also want to earn enough to do it full time and be financially stable. How can they do both? A new publication by Khanjan Mehta, director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program at Penn State, helps STEM students and professionals make informed career decisions by illuminating the diversity of career pathways in social innovation and global sustainable development. Mehta spent more than three years interacting with hundreds of innovators working on a wide range of development challenges across diverse sectors and organizations in the U.S. and around the world. “I realized that STEM professionals can be found across all kinds of impact-focused organizations and units, and every single innovator has a unique path to arrive where they are now,” he explained. The book, Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It), includes 54 expert briefs penned by leaders from USAID, the Peace Corps, MIT, Engineers without Borders, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and other organizations. In addition, 100 STEM innovators from the World Bank, UNICEF, the White House, the Gates Foundation, Google, and dozens of social ventures, government agencies, nonprofits, academia, and corporations share their enlightening and inspiring profiles, including their current roles and responsibilities, career trajectories, and lessons learned along the way. The book examines the pros and cons of graduate degrees such as a PhD, MBA, MPH, and MPA as well as professional development programs such as the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and Fulbright scholarships. A section on professional competencies provides actionable insights into how readers can prepare for impact-focused careers by becoming better storytellers, proposal writers, and cross-cultural communicators. After a series of articles on how to break into and be successful in the social impact space, the book wraps up with a section that encourages readers to think through compensation, career advancement, and the personal implications of their career choices. “This book assembles more valuable insight and advice on social impact STEM careers than one could hope for in a lifetime. It hastens the day when such careers are no longer considered nontraditional, which is especially important for today’s students,” said Alexander J. Moseson, the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at USAID. Mehta said he wrote the book with three specific goals: (1) to educate students, parents, faculty, and career counselors about career pathways and strategies in social innovation and sustainable development; (2) to elucidate the variety of exciting career opportunities available to students and young professionals who have engaged in intensive and immersive engaged scholarship and sustainable development programs; and (3) to help recruit and retain women and underrepresented groups into STEM fields. “Echoing the objectives of the NAE’s report ‘Changing the Conversation,’ this book develops new language to explain what engineers do. It is a must-read for engineers who want to make a difference,” said Peter Butler, associate dean for education in Penn State’s College of Engineering and a contributor to the book. In commenting on the book, ASABE member Tom Brumm, the Sukup Global Professor of Food Security in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University, said, “I have many students come to me seeking advice about non-traditional careers that directly impact the big problems facing the world. I often start the conversation by saying, ‘It’s complicated.’ Professor Mehta’s book is now my first recommendation to them and to faculty interested in helping students like them find their path. The book helps all readers understand the challenges and possibilities of careers that can make a difference globally.” For more information, contact Stefanie Tomlinson, Public Relations Specialist, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA, email@example.com.
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