Friday, 15 December 2017

Why is STEM important?

Why is Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) important? 

 How do you prepare for a job that doesnt yet exist?

This question was the topic of a recent panel discussion at the University of Lincoln, UK.  Among others, Juergen Maier (CEO of Siemens UK) said: "I am often asked what can we do to get ahead in this area of industrial revolution. What our research clearly shows us is that if we can get it right then this revolution will create many more jobs than the technology itself displaces. So the good news is universities are definitely not worthless."

Click here for the full panel discussion

Future jobs have not been invented yet

Depending on who you ask, between 65% and 85% of jobs that will exist in the future doesn't even exist yet.

HASTAC Co-founder and Director, Cathy Davidson ventures to say that: "... 100% of us have experienced some kind of massive change in the way we do our work, whether we're still working at what is called the same job or not."  See her full post on HASTAC here.

In an article from Huffington Post, Dell claims 85% Of Jobs That Will Exist In 2030 Haven’t Been Invented Yet.  Get ready for a globalized workforce and a lifetime of retraining : Huffingtonpost's article


Dell's statement reminds me of a statement Dion Chang, Founder of Flux Trends, made at a conference I attended earlier this year.  It was something in the line of: "Generally jobs lost gets displaced into other services".  Dion Chang went on to explain this is only true if the people whos jobs are lost are prepared and trained to perform new functions and services.

You only need to do a simple "future jobs" search to see that the future of employment and being employed is  CNBC lists the 10 best and worst jobs. Here are the Best 10:
  1. App developer
  2. Computer systems analyst
  3. Nurse practitioner
  4. Physical therapist
  5. Health services manager
  6. Physician assistant
  7. Dental hygienist
  8. Market research analyst
  9. Personal financial adviser
  10. Speech language pathologist
The bottom line is that with technology developing so fast, mankind travelling to Mars soon, projects like the Square Kilometer Array and Nuclear Fusion Reactors being tested STEM skills will become more essential to secure employment in the future.  Download this STEM infographic on the right for more statistics about STEM.

 Thank you for visting THE STEM BLOG SA
!!!questions, comments and suggestions are welcome!!!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Festive STEM gifts 2017

 2017 is gone and It's silly season

What gift to buy the STEM guy/girl in your life?

Whether this guy/girl is your child, sibling or spouse - these gifts are sure to put a twinkle in their eye and keep him/her out of your hair...for a while at least.

TakeAlot has some great suggestions:

Be a Smarty Pants with STEM Toys

Some of my personal favourites (things I would buy for me):

Meccano: always has some amazing stuff.  The Micronoid, for example, is a TOY OF THE YEAR 2017 finalist

LEGO Mindstorms is always a winner!  There are various kits and comes with a programmable 'brick' (which is the brain/controller), motors, touch - , colour - and light sensors and hours of fun and entertainment.

Suggestions from other pages:

From 'The Home School Scientist': 35 Fun STEM Christmas gifts
From 'Left Brain, Craft Brain': The Best STEM gifts for kids 

 Thank you for visting THE STEM BLOG SA
Have a STEMtastic Christmas!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Will Automation take away all our jobs?

MIT Economist, David Autor, says NO!

In the embedded TED Talk video below (Recorded at TEDx Cambridge in 2016), David (A Professor of Economics at MIT) goes into the details of his argument for Automation, but he starts his talk off by saying: "Here's a startling fact: In the 45 years since the introduction of the automated teller machine ... the number of human bank tellers employed in the United States has roughly doubled from about quarter of a million to half a million..."

Click here to see Autor's profile on MIT's website.

These facts are revealed in a recent book by a Boston University economist by the name of James Bessen (Bessen's LinkedIn Profile).

The caption below the video reads: "Here's a paradox you don't hear much about: despite a century of creating machines to do our work for us, the proportion of adults in the US with a job has consistently gone up for the past 125 years. Why hasn't human labor become redundant and our skills obsolete? In this talk about the future of work, economist David Autor addresses the question of why there are still so many jobs and comes up with a surprising, hopeful answer."

Watch the video and let me know what you think:

For a list of my favourite TED videos, go see the My TED playlist on YouoTube.

Thank you for visting THE S.T.EM. BLOG SA
!!!questions, comments and suggestions are welcome!!!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017



Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths is the backbone of stable economies

So why do I STEM?  Or more accurately: Why do I blog about STEM?


I am passionate about technology that enables us (humanity) to achieve better things for all.

I am passionate about sharing what I learn through my own experiences.

I believe everyone can have enough if we can just realise we are all in this together.

These links are some great reads on this topic:

Thank you for visting THE S.T.EM. BLOG SA
!!!questions, comments and suggestions are welcome!!!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

What is a LASER and how does it work?

What is a LASER, how does it work and What is its uses?

First up - LASER is actually an acronym

LASER is short for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

In 1917 +Albert Einstein  ( +Albert Einstein fan page    ) introduced the concept of stimulated
emission and laid down the foundation of the LASER.  The concept Einstein developed was that when a photon stimulates an excited molecule or atom a second photon with the same frequency, phase, polarization and direction is emitted.  For a detailed explanation, have a look at this +YouTube video:


The first operational LASER was developed by Theodore Maiman in 1959 - he was also awarded the first LASER patent in 1960.  Since then more than 55'000 LASER patents have been awarded in America, so the multitude of uses and applications for LASERS of today was certainly the work of a number of brilliant scientists and engineers.

Laser Level TransmitterFor a full list of laser applications, have a look at this wiki: list of applications.  Since there are so many different applications, here are just a few examples of different LASER applications and designs.

On the right is a picture of an AL40 LASER level transmitter developed and manufactured in South Africa by +Allpronix.  This LASER is used in industrial applications where the level of product (solids or opaque liquids) in a tank needs to be monitored.  This design is the first of its kind to have an on board LCD display and buttons through which it can be programmed and set up for different applications.  For example it can be set for level or distance measurement.  Distance will be used in applications like crane positioning.  For more information on the AL40, go to

 A very cool experiment is the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment.  During the Apollo 11, 14, 15 programs retro-reflector arrays were planted on the moon's surface.  Lasers on earth is aimed at these retro-reflector arrays and the time the laser pulses travel is measured to determine the distance of the moon from earth.  For more details read this wiki on +Wikipedia: lunar laser ranging experiment

An application we all know of course is the LASER pointers used for presentations.  These LASERS are low powered beam emitted by a laser diode.  In most jurisdictions these is restricted to 5mW.  More details  on this can be found at:

Another very well known laser application is bar code scanners, which is also a low powered LED laser emitting device used to read bar codes off any item, usually for inventory and pricing control.


Thank you for reading my blog - feel free to leave comments and if you enjoyed it, please share it.
I hope you learn something new every day, even after you think you know everything. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Robotic Material Handling

Robotic and automated material handing is especially valuable in areas, laboratories and manufacturing plants where Hazardous Materials (HazMat) are present, dull repetitive tasks and heavy lifting is part of the process.  These areas and more is covered int this video by Robotic Material Handling


Thank you for reading my blog.
I hope you learn something new every day, even after you think you know everything.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Power Over Ethernet - be careful!

I have recently learned a whole lot about CAT5 cables, ethernet and wi-fi since I've started working for a new company.  The reason the title says "be careful" is because you could fry your equipment if you inject it with to much power when it actually requires a lower amount of power

There are different kinds of POE and this post will explain the differences between the passive PoE (Power Over Ethernet), the 802.3at IEEE standard and the 802.3af standard.

Some background info
The picture on the left is an extract from +IEEE 's website and it shows some of the other 802 standards.  Here you can see that 802.3 deals with ethernet.

Power over Ethernet allows devices to be powered up by the same cable that performs the communication between it, and the rest of the network it is connected to.  This can be achieved because communication only uses four of the eight strands in a standard LAN/CAT5e cable (see picture below).

Strands 1 and2, 3 and 6 are used for data communication, but, depending on the design of the (the device that is powered up via PoE) and the power source equipment (the device providing the power), power can be provided through these same strands or through the unused strands (4, 5, 7, 8).  Power can even be provided over all eight strands in some high-power applications.
powered device

Different types of PoE

Basically, passive POE is just called that because power is being injected into the PD (powered device) over an Ethernet (CAT5) cable, but it is in fact, not standard POE.  It can be 12V, 19V or 24V DC (direct current) at somewhere between 500mA and 2A.

Equipment designed to adhere to the IEEE 802.3af-2003 standard provides 15.4W at 44Vdc - 57Vdc at the PSE (power source equipment) and 12.9W at 37V - 57Vdc at the PD.

Equipment designed to adhere to the IEEE 802.3at-2009 standard (aka POE plus) provides 34.2W at the PSE, but some vendors have claimed to be able to provide up to 51W of 802.3at compliant power over a single CAT5 cable.  At the PSE the voltage will range between 50V and 57V while it will range between 42V and 57V at the PD.

Here is a table comparing the 802.3at with 802.3af with each other compliments of Wikipedia:
802.3at vs 802.3af
An easy way to remember which one is which, is to remember that 802.3af comes before 802.3at in the alphabet (because of the F and the T) and so is the one that was developed earlier and so provides less power.

How to identify equipment 
The manufacturer of the equipment you are using should clearly state what power input is needed for the device you want to power up.  If you come across equipment that is already installed and the requirements information is not available, you can get PoE testers at fairly cheap prices, which will be able to show whether power is on or not and what the voltage is.

That is all for now, and as always, I will keep on expanding my knowledge, and I hope you do to.
Thank you for reading my blog.
I hope you learn something new every day, even after you think you know everything.