The 4 coolest STEM careers I wish I studied for…

Editors Note: We have declared this month #STEMtember to build awareness of the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Earlier in the month we released some research into how parents and students view STEM education and we’re planning a number of profiles of people with some of the coolest STEM jobs. Keep an eye on the blog or follow #STEMtember on Twitter , discuss on Facebook , or you can read all this month’s post by clicking on the tag #STEMtember on this blog.  


Even though the years are flying by, I don’t think I will ever forget what it was like to be a kid in middle school… What an awkward age that was! As a 6th grader I was just discovering that girls didn’t have coodies and still imagined that one day I would be a professional basketball player like Mike. But at some point before 8th grade, I realized I would likely need to focus my on studying as very few ever make it to the NBA. Looking back to my middle school and high school years, I was ripe for being influenced, inspired, and encouraged to study in certain areas; yet I was never drawn to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) education. Why is that?

Were my English and history teachers really that cool? Looking at many of the possibilities I just can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if I had focused my studies on STEM subjects.

The other day, our team sat around a table and made a list of people who have really cool STEM focused careers. We decided reach out and interview those folks to gain insights into their STEM thoughts, educational experience, and seek advice for the future generation. So for the next few weeks we will be posting blogs from our team as we interview these STEM super heroes.

To kick things off I thought it might be fun to explore the top 4 STEM careers I wish studied for:

1) An Astronaut: This last spring I was fortunate to visit Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see off the Astronauts in the second to last shuttle launch in NASA history. While I watched astronaut Greg Chamitoff wave goodbye to his children (pictured left), the thought occurred to me; Greg is not saying “goodbye kids, daddy will be home after work”… No, he is saying “goodbye kids, daddy is going to be shot into space on the fastest ride this planet has to offer, leave the atmosphere for a few weeks, explore outer space, and will be home when orbit permits”. Well maybe he wasn’t saying that exactly, but you get the point. Too bad I didn’t choose to study physics and advanced aerospace.   

2) A Fighter Pilot: I have to give credit to the Blue Angels and Tom Cruise in Top Gun for my pipe dreams of wanting to fly MACH 3 with my hair on fire. Anyone lucky enough to catch a Blue Angels show (pictured left) in person will attest to the sheer awesomeness of the sight and sounds of a fighter jet. I wish one of my teachers would have told me the engineering path of a pilot; guaranteed that bit of information would have dialed in my attention span in calculus class.

3) A world famous chef: Only in my own kitchen do I pretend to be Curtis Stone. Wouldn’t it be great to create the tasty treats that people from all over the world seek to consume? Chefs are scientists in their own right, understanding how ingredients pair as well as the biological instincts involved with eating food. One who studies the science of food could have the world at the palm of their cooking mitts! 

4) A Tesla engineer: Have you ever been 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds? Thanks to my good friend Tal Moore (his car pictured left), I have, and believe me I was grinning like a child at a birthday party. These cars are amazing; they sound like a

spaceship, start and stop on a dime, and provide the thrill of a lifetime. Bet if I would have studied mechanical engineering I could have been able to one day afford the $100,000+ price tag, or maybe I could have just built one myself.

These are just a few examples of the incredible possibilities for kids who study STEM. The next generation of innovators, astronauts, pilots, electric motor engineers, famous chefs and more - could be your child, your little cousin, your little sister/brother, or a child you mentor.  

What cool STEM job do you find inspiring? Why not tell us using the #STEMtember on Twitter or on Facebook.


All photographs taken by Nathan J. Peterson