A slice of Pi - Einstein’s Birthday, Pi Day, and STEM


Today is Pi Day as well as Albert Einstein’s birthday. As you may know, the number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159. If we round up, it’s 3.1416 or 3/14/16 – today!!

This is a day to think about math and science and the future of work. To change the world will require future generations to anchor their learning in science and math.

Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Born in Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879 and where we bring the science into the math discussion. It is a day of inspiration with a focus on science and math.

The first discussion of the 3:1 relationship was almost 4,000 years ago. It’s mentioned by the Babylonians, in the Bible, in ancient Egypt, and written about by Archimedes about 250 BC. For fun, you can find your birthday in the calculation here.

The U.S Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million IT/technology jobs and only 400,000 computer science students to fill them. A little more than 3:1 ratio of open jobs to qualified candidates in the U.S. Hmmm.

The most famous story of Archimedes – probably more famous than his work on the circumference of a circle – is his infamous time in the bathtub. King Hiero II had supplied gold to a local craftsman to make him a crown. When the crown was completed, the king asked Archimedes if it was indeed made of solid gold or whether the craftsman had stolen some of the gold and substituted less expensive silver. The challenge for Archimedes was that the crown could not be damaged during his investigation. Archimedes realized that he could use water and displacement to determine the density of the crown’s gold. Legend has it that, upon making this discovery, he leaped from his tub and ran down the streets shouting Eureka!, forgetting to dress.

Albert Einstein is recognized as perhaps the smartest human that ever lived. His famed Theory of Relativity, E=mc2 came to be as he imagined himself riding a beam of light, witnessing the impact of time and space. As a young student, Einstein was far happier learning on his own than in the classroom. One of his famous quotes is, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

As we approach 2020 and a shortage of tech workers, India is petitioning the World Trade Organization to encourage the US to raise Visa limits. The coming job shortages in IT/technology are significant, as virtually every industry is being disrupted by advances in technology, and everyone is trying to hire. The competition for tech and STEM talent is now global, and companies are already taking steps to attract the best and the brightest through increased benefits and competitive salaries for technology positions. If we’re not there already, we’ll see the magical 3:1 ratio show up again as we rising tech salaries to disrupt non-tech employment – think about the last time you went to a travel agent or saw a bank teller.

The history of Pi is a long one. There are poems and contests, ancient mathematicians and modern day evangelists. Most importantly, though, is the lesson that this day can teach us about the importance of a STEM education. Tech jobs that go unfilled are an opportunity – and opportunity for inner city youth to climb out of poverty, for disparaged pensioners to find a second wind, and a reminder to students to take a second look at that math class as a foray into a greater world….

As an encouragement, the good news is that we live in an age where essentially all human knowledge is accessible online. 

Those in search of a STEM education need go no farther than YouTube, Khan Academy, or Coursera – programs for kids like iUrbanTeen or Skype in the Classroom or CS50.  

For HR Professionals, it’s important to remember a diverse employee population is good for business, particularly global companies with a diverse customer base. Competitive hiring challenges will be helped by strong organizations and inclusive cultures. 

STEM candidates will look at an organization’s inclusion of STEM employees, and existing employees will look towards advancement and career opportunities before deciding to join or stay at a company. 

Many STEM employees tend to be introverts as well, and organizations that reward the “loudest in the room” will have a hard time retaining STEM employees or building inclusive teams. The competition for STEM candidates is going to get tougher in the coming years, and the more work that can be done around building diverse and inclusive teams, respecting work styles, remote work and workplace flexibility, gender, age, and cultural diversity, and in-house training and mentoring programs, the more likely an organization is to recruit, retain, and advance a STEM-based workforce.

So on this Pi Day, a few celebratory suggestions to Geek Out in style!

·   Invite 3.14 kids to consider a STEM career

·   Recognize that this is an official day as per Congress in the US

·   Get on the treadmill for 3.14 miles – it’s good for you

·   Buy a pie from a local bakery

·   Enjoy some PIneapple, PIzza, PIna Coladas, and Pine nuts.

·   Take it, to the digits, one more time - Celebrate at 1:59 – 3.14159

·   Play some games – memorization competition, pie eating contest

·   Head to Princeton for weekend of celebration around Pi Day

·   Think about your organization’s inclusion practices to ensure they work for STEM employees

The world faces of shortage of technical talent in the coming years. Particularly in the US, the shortage of STEM candidates, along with the increasing influence of technology on almost every industry, will influence the demand for tech workers for years to come. When we look back and celebrate great minds like Archimedes and Einstein, we can all work inspire the students of today – and empower them to change the world.




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