In science and technology, we test and test again. The more the results stand up to multiple experiments in different laboratories, and different experimental designs, the more we can trust the results. STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) needs people with all kinds of backgrounds to point out things that other people may have missed.
In closing, I would like to point out it is never too late to learn something new and learning come can come from unexpected places.
My daughter is on her middle school Lego robotics team. Like many public school teams, they are at a disadvantage relative to the boy/girl scout troops and private schools because they have one teacher to 32 students. A teammate's dad had been helping out one afternoon a week. When his project at his market work was heading into PDR*, he sent an e-mail asking me to take over.
I duly bought a Lego NXT 2.0 kit and some books, installed the software on my laptop and set out to learn how to program a Lego robot. It turns out that the Lego API (application programming interface) is a variation of LabVIEW, a real-time programming tool used in many labs. At the 2010 Workshop on Spacecraft Flight Software, I learned that LabVIEW is used by MIT students to prototype spacecraft control algorithms!
My daughter helped me program a robot to run a (American football) post play. That means I do have some real-time programming experience after all. But I had to learn it from my 10-year-old.
I would like to thank Keith Blount for his excellent introduction in DIY software. Let's turn every house into a software house.
*PDR stands for preliminary design review. All satellite programs go through
thorough design reviews at various stages or milestones. Engineers and
managers for both the contractor and the buyer work very long hours
leading up to and during the design review process. PDR is the last
chance to catch gotchas before proceeding to build the satellite.
I don't mean to shill for my blog, but I have covered this beat for years.
Mommy Art (and Science) explains why software jobs can be highly compatible with child-rearing.
Rockin' deals with the historical reason why the NWP field enjoys a relative abundance of women. I collected one oral history about what happened before, during the depression and WWII, but I need to collect more evidence. Better yet, a professional historian should cover this because I need to go to work now.
has a day job at the intersection of science, technology and
governance/policy. She also does a split shift at home as a mother and
wife to a field scientist. She blogs about science, the culture of making, and work/life issues at Bad Mom, Good Mom.