LETTERS & COMMENTS
Readers react in different ways to
our STEM roundtable. And an-
other takes engineers to task for
complacency in language skills.
finds his 1984 article
in the Vault.
To the Editor: I was surprised and grati-
fied by my 1984 article on commercial util-
ity flue gas desulfurization being featured
from the Vault in the July issue.
It was an appropriate article to feature
as lime and limestone flue gas desulfurization processes are still the predominant
technology being used today to control
sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired
I would have appreciated an opportunity
to review the extract, however, as I am still
a member of ASME (around 44 years). By
the way, the correct terminology is New
Source Performance Standards (NSPS), not
New Source for Performance Standards.
Thank you for an interesting and relevant
David Mobley, Raleigh, N.C.
To the Editor: Reading the expert panelists’ comments presented in “Critical
Thinking, Critical Choices: What Really Matters in STEM” (July) prompted
this thought. Today's technology needs
are mired in big data. As a mechanical
engineer with the propensity for needing
information presented to me in black and
white, big data looks like a swirling soup of
disparate colors and a whole lot of gray.
If I may, women are excellent leaders
in a world of chaos, extracting the black
and white, herding the cats to clean up the
mess, then explaining to the world what the
black and white means and how to use it.
Look at the images in this copy of
Mechanical Engineering on pages 44-45,
how many women do you see? I suspect
this panel was carefully staged to uphold
women in technology. I applaud that goal.
Now look at the images on pages 17, 25,
62, and 64. How many women do you see? A
dearth of women represented in the technical arena continues to be a reality. I am, so
many days, the only woman in a technical
Perhaps STEM education should not only
focus on sparking a girl’s interest, but also
seek out clever methods to retain girls as
they mature and grow into outstanding capable technical women. Hint: this will take
non-traditional, creative solutions.
Jennifer Herron, Lakewood, Colo.
To the Editor: My engineer husband and
I read the July issue with interest. Alberta
is experiencing an unprecedented educa-
tion fiasco, as our Education Minister foists
his "discovery" fixation upon over 600,000
students and their 30,000 teachers. Minister
Jeff Johnson's Task Force on Teaching
Excellence threatens teachers with de/
recertification every five years if they don't
comply with his "discovery"/inquiry method
approach to teaching (vs. direct instruction)
throughout the K- 12 curricula.
You noted that U.S. students' STEM-relat-ed exam results "pale in comparison" to the
top countries. In Canada, we too have noted
how our students’ International Pisa Math
Exam results have plummeted since 2003.
Alberta (517) lags almost 100 points below
Shanghai's (613) math exam results. Yet
Minister Johnson repeatedly tells Albertans
(and expects us to believe) that Alberta test
scores are still "at the top."
Our K- 12 curriculum (since 2003) has
failed to utilize proven methods of mastery
of the basic facts and skills, prior to moving
on to teach higher-level problem solving,
and our students are being short-changed
and disadvantaged on the global stage.
Only under great pressure has Johnson
conceded to make some of the requested
changes, to ensure that elementary students again learn to add, subtract, multiply,
divide, and work with fractions (instead of
relying on their calculators and cell phones).
Alberta students have recently been encouraged to guess, estimate, or speculate to
"discover" their own answers, and this has
had abysmal results.
We are deeply concerned about the edu-
cation of the whole child, and the direction
North America has taken in the past decade
does a disservice to our students.
Marion Leithead, Bawlf, Alberta
To the Editor: I just read your editorial in
the July issue. I can see the truth in your
comparison of the excuses, “I’ve never been
good at reading” and “I’ve never been good
I must point out that there is still really
bad news in the language areas of our
lives, however. The excuses “I’ve never
been a good speller” and “I didn’t do well
in English” are quite common and are the
equivalent excuses to the math excuse that
you referred to. In fact, if you ask people to