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16 March 2009


Russ Steele


Because their dad was interested in computers and build his first computer with blinking lights and then one that could write programs in Basic, then eventually do simple word processing, our four daughters grew up with a computer in the house. Shortly after we returned to California, our #3 daughter was registered at the Lyman Gilmore Middle School, where they had Commodore 64 computers which the boys dominated. That is until #3 changed the password, which she gave out to her girl friends. The boys were beside themselves, a girl had take control of "their computers." When the girls went off to college, the first three went with a home build desk top computers, however #4 sold her horse and bought a Mac, and scanner. Her high school graduation gift was a dot-matrix printer. She uses computers like you and I drive a car, without thinking about what to do next, it is an intuitive skill born of familiarity. After grad school in Writing and Publishing #4 had several book publishing jobs as a graphic designer, but her computers skills soon dominated and she was recruited by the IT department at the publishing house. Here degrees are in English, and Writing and Publishing, not engineering or computer science. Everyone of our four girls can point to opportunities that opened up to them because they had developed computer skills before entering the job market. Having some computer skills in a networked world is a highly value added skill to have regardless of the occupation.

George Rebane

Agreed. We can tell a similar story with our kids. It appears though that the IBM Academic Initiative resource center and their recent survey refer to a deeper level of tech-savvy than being 'computer literate' in the sense of using it as the indispensible home/office productivity tool that it is.


I had an "I don't do math" attitude as well in high school. I took algebra in my first or second year and managed to squeak by with a 'C', but I didn't really get it. I was just glad I satisfied a graduation requirement

In my junior year an experimental elective class called Applied Engineering was offered, so I signed up for the one semester class. Something about that class stirred my curiosity. I don't know if it was figuring out how to build a cantelever span, the force of dirt behind a retaining wall or pressures in a vessel, but something clicked. It was like a light bulb going from dim to bright. Suddenly I had a keen interest in mathematics and I actually got it. Perhaps it was seeing and understanding the physical aspects of how mathematics fits in to engineering design and concept. I am not from Missouri, but the term "Show Me" is what finally got me to understand complex mathematics. I might add, a little textbook entitled (Industrial Series) Mathematics, by John W. Breneman, Penn State also helped put it all in perspective. I still have that book and frequently refer to it for trig tables and to refresh my memory.

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