ASQ Influential Voices Contribution: Failure, Risks, and STEM?

In his February blog post titled “Failure, Risks, and Careers in Quality,” Paul Borawski, CEO of ASQ, wants to know how we quality professionals handle failure in the workplace. Do we try again until we find a solution? Are we penalized for failure? Or do we avoid it altogether? How much risk are we willing to take to find solutions to quality challenges? Paul suggests this fear of failure may be connected to fewer numbers of students pursuing STEM education and entering STEM-related fields.

Is it really a fear of failure which has fewer teens pursuing education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? STEM-related programs are difficult, but could it be students, like with water, will seek the path of least resistance? When left to their own devices, will students seek the quickest path to a degree? Could it be today’s students are not willing to do the hard work it takes to earn a STEM-related degree. Or, as Borawski suggests, is it fear of failure which inhibits students from entering into STEM-related degree programs. No matter the reason, society cannot give up on STEM programs.

Advancing the STEM Agenda

ASQ’s Education Division is taking the lead on STEM education by presenting its 3rd annual conference titled: Advancing the STEM Agenda. According to the conference home page, “The need for more scientists and engineers in the workplace has never been greater for increasing innovation and economic growth. This need is driving the intense interest in Advancing the STEM Agenda.”

More about the Conference

This conference will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Grand Valley State University on June 3 & 4. You should plan to attend this conference if you are involved in any way with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiatives which prepare high school students for college STEM majors. Conference promotional information indicates you “…will take back to your schools, colleges and universities, communities and corporations the latest ideas on improving STEM initiatives and implementing successful collaboration among stakeholders.” The Advancing the STEM Agenda conference planners insist this “…conference is unique: its objective is to network and blend ideas on quality and continuous improvement with the latest research and best practices related to STEM initiatives.” Find out more about Advancing the Stem Agenda by visiting the website at

“This conference was driven by the interest the ASQ Education Division had in bringing quality systems thinking to the conversation about inspiring interest in and preparing students for STEM college majors and in providing an event for furthering the national conversation about STEM education.”

—Cindy P. Veenstra, Advancing the STEM Agenda: Quality Improvement Supports STEM

Educators and Employers should plan to attend this conference to network with other educators to experience best practices for STEM initiatives in their organization. This collaboration is intended to inspire, mentor and prepare STEM students for careers as future scientists and engineers, worldwide!

Other STEM Resources, Friends, and Sponsors

Check out the ASQ Education Division’s the ASQ-Advancing-STEM Agenda LinkedIn Group. Network here on LinkdeIn to improve STEM education and help plan for the next Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference. Check out the ASQ Education Division for the latest information related to STEM and various STEM-inspired publications. Check out the Student Branch of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) at Ferris State University – Grand Rapids, MI for updates on the upcoming STEM conference. Check out the Grand Rapids Section 1001 website for more updates on Advancing the STEM Agenda.

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