Browsing the archives for the education tag.


World Quality Month… Yeah, Quality Matters

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What’s World Quality Month, anyway?

“The purpose of World Quality Month is to promote the use of quality tools in businesses and communities. Quality tools, such as flowcharts and checklists, reduce mistakes and help produce superior products. Quality principles could reduce headline-making errors, like food safety, toy recalls, and financial disruptions. World Quality Month calls on people who use quality tools to share their knowledge by submitting their stories to illustrate the value of quality principles.” (ASQ)

“The purpose of World Quality Day is to promote awareness of quality around the world and encourage development and prosperity” (CQI)

This year, I decided to help out ASQ’s Education Division and work with them to organize the Quality Education Conference & Workshop (QECW) that was held in Houston, TX this past weekend. I figured the best way to spread the word is to contribute my time to something that would raise awareness.

First, let me say that that I have gained a whole new level of respect for people that organize conferences.  The behind-the-scenes efforts of volunteers and others is just unbelievable. The passion of ASQ members is unparalleled, and the QECW experience was nothing short of awesome.  I tweeted for the division, so more info can be found here. And, another member took some great photos for us.

My presentation related to critical thinking and STEM was well received, but I am most grateful for all of the amazing people I met at the event.  Educators truly are special people! And, there’s no doubt education is where we need to start if we’re going to integrate quality into our personal and professional lives.

This World Quality Month also marks a few personal achievements of which I still can’t keep smiling about!  First, I am honored to be among the Fresh Faces identified in the November issue of Quality Progress. Wow.

Secondly, I received an email notifying me that my nomination as Fellow was accepted. I won’t lie… achieving this took a ridiculous amount of effort, and I count it as one of my proudest achievements. I truly feel special to be among such an elite group of quality professionals. I’m more motivated than ever to make a difference! Thank you so much to my ASQ friends that supported and helped me achieve this… You know who you are!

“Fellow Membership is an honor bestowed by other ASQ Members. A Fellow represents the upper echelon of the quality profession and serves as the backbone of the Society.”

Finally, I got word that my two proposals for presentations at the World Quality Conference in May were accepted.  I’ll be able to share information regarding social accountability audits in the manufacturing sector and also an After 5 session related to living a socially responsible life. I can’t wait!

I’ve written a few posts in the past related to World Quality Month as well:

You don’t have to be in quality to recognize World Quality Month! As Deming famously said… “Quality is everyone’s responsibility.”

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Quality Tools for Critical Thinking & K-12 STEM Success

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This will be my first year attending ASQ’s annual Quality Education Conference & Workshop.  I’ve had a lot of fun volunteering and working with the Education Division, so I have no doubt the event will be exceed expectations.

I submitted to speak this time because I wanted to share some insight I’ve gained as someone who has instructed sessions related to critical thinking in the workforce. But, I’ve also used these quality tools as a parent and have done a fair amount of research related to importance of critical thinking & decision-making as it relates to STEM success. I’m excited to have been chosen and am in the process of polishing my presentation.

Critical thinking allows us to use our own creativity and curiosity to research, design test and improve solutions.  “Critical thinking is a skill that is impossible to teach directly but must be intertwined with content.” ~Christodoulou

Highlights of my presentation include:

  • Critical Thinking & STEM: Making the Connection
  • Keys to Success
  • Games & Activities
  • Applied Tools
    • Affinity Diagrams
    • Fishbone Diagrams
    • Six Thinking Hats
    • Mind Mapping
    • Grid Analysis
  • Additional Resources

If you’re interested in QECW, check out the site here. Bill Troy, ASQ’s CEO is just one keynote I’m looking forward to. And, the other speakers and their sessions will be hard to choose from. This will be my first conference volunteering also, so I’m leveling up on the fun!

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Personal Branding Using The Brand Deck… An Introspective Activity

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Some time ago, I noticed an article posted about a Kickstarter project from the co-creator of Cards Against Humanity, and I was compelled to check it out. The idea is cool:

“Brand Deck is a collaborative exercise that will help you identify your brand’s characteristics.”

At first, I just thought it would be a fun activity to do with my marketing class. But, the moment I opened up my Brand Deck it was obvious that this could be one of the best personal branding tools yet.

Over the last few days, I’ve tried out the activity myself.  And, I’ll be recommending it during my upcoming presentation at ASQ’s Annual Service Conference.  It’s a great tool, and it’s a fun activity…

Step 1

I setup the four columns:

  • You Are
  • You Are Not
  • You Are Torn
  • Does Not Apply

Step 2

Each card has two sides.  The instructions say “for each card in the deck, pick the word that you have the strongest reaction to and put it face up in the pile where it belongs. Go with your gut.”

This was actually a really introspective process.  Are you disciplined or relaxed? Steady or dynamic? It took some time to get through the whole deck.  And, I leveled up and decided to leave it out for a day or two and revisit to see if I felt the same way. There were one or two cards that I shuffled around after giving it some time.

Step 3

I followed the deck’s instructions, which were “once you’ve sorted all of your words into their appropriate piles, discard the Does Not Apply pile, and narrow down to one to six words for You Are, You Are Not, and You Are Torn.”

This was not easy. I decided to get some outside perspective. I narrowed down each column to about a 10-11 each.  And, I reached out to my spouse, friends, co-workers and parents for their pick of the six that best described me. I even looked up a few of the words to make sure I was really grasping the meaning correctly.  It really makes you think!

I usually recommend people do some “market research” during the personal branding process. It’s certainly interesting to see the subtle differences in how you’re perceived. 

Step 4

After narrowing it down to six in each column, I took another look at You Are Torn and decided none of the words were ever going to make the top six for the other columns. I removed that column and left myself with a snapshot of who I am and who I am not.

In this process, it’s possible to identify opportunities and recognize things that could be a weakness.  While the process is fresh, why not follow-up with a personal SWOT analysis? You could actually use the cards to complete the SW part.

Side Note: If you like Facebook quizzes, you won’t be able to resist this.

Me:

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I haven’t tried out the NSFW deck yet. But, with instructions that say “figure it out,” I’m game.

All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters, Fast Company

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Ensuring Future STEM Professionals: Involvement is Key!

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STEM has certainly surpassed buzzword status.  A few years ago, you’d likely have to expand on the acronym by adding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, but it’s almost an insult now to assume people don’t know what’s up.  That tells me efforts to increase awareness are working!

My first exposure to STEM education and the related workforce issues came from the ASQ community, my own difficulty finding engineers for work projects, and then later when I had children of my own and saw things from an entirely different perspective.

This month’s View From the Q  via ASQ incorporates some great ideas for “Ensuring the Next Generation of STEM Professionals.”  I have a few more to add and/or expand on:

School Involvement (Individual & Organizations)

Both my son and daughter are in elementary school.  Last year, I worked with the principal to recognize and support Manufacturing Day. I did the same for Hour of Code and think both raised awareness and generated interest among students and parents.  It took very little effort, and the school welcomed the idea. Outside of this, the school’s STEM focus was the county science fair requirements that are unfortunately perceived as more of a chore than an enriching experience.  I think most institutions just need a seed planted to be able to further support the effort.

Action: Email and/or call the schools and ask them if they’re doing anything for Manufacturing Day, Hour of Code, or what else they’re doing to support STEM education.

Having some experience with the Middleton Magnet High School STEM Advisory Board, I know at that level they even go as far as scheduling manufacturing visits, engaging local speakers and hosting events.  Our local ASQ chapter has participated in a few of these and continues to support their efforts.  As a “pre-collegiate academy for STEM,” Middleton welcomes local organizations to join their Advisory Board and are very good at responding to the needs of the community.  There are so many ways parents and local businesses can get involved in schools like this to make a difference.

Action: Encourage employers to get involved with STEM schools by supporting internships, volunteer hours, various events, etc.  

Parent Support 

Scheduling for summer or whenever school is out is a challenge.  If the kids are going to be out of school, I want them involved in something fun and stimulating.  To support STEM education, I continue to schedule camps at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) .  Over the years, my kids have learned how to program video games, design and use 3D printing technology and even design and build robots.  They have so much fun, and the cost is reasonable.  MOSI, and many of the other STEM related school-break camps (like FLATE) have scholarships available as well.  Supporting places like MOSI also keeps them in business where they are able to make a significant impact in the community!

Action: Don’t count on schools to be the only source of STEM education. To really stimulate a kid’s interest in these fields, get them into camps that let them do the stuff hands-on and hang out with other kids that are interested in similar things.  

Oh, have your older kid take What’s Your STEM Type? to match careers or otherwise assess their skills and aptitude.  They’ll likely find a niche that gets them over the “it’s too hard” hurdle.  Or, they’ll realize a career opportunity they hadn’t thought of.

Action: Help our youth realize the benefits of entering STEM fields… Show them their options and allow them to assess their natural aptitude.  There are usually local events hosted by the colleges that allow students to speak with engineers and others in STEM fields.  USF just held their annual Engineering Expo that I heard great things about! These activities support their own enthusiasm and drive which is the foundation of success.

Some additional education resources include:

Khan Academy – Also check out Salman Khan’s TED talk related to STEM education and the creation of this how-to video library.

TED Ed  – I love these for the “car line” in the morning. They also give you everything you need to get a club started at school if time and resources exist.

Volunteer 

Last summer, I volunteered for a Girl Scout STEM camp as a SWE representative. That was a fun (and exhausting) few hours! My employer supported it, and I had an opportunity to make a difference.  We know we need more girls engaged with STEM, and the Girl Scouts are on their way towards fully integrating this goal.  (Organizations like FLATE, as mentioned previously, offer girls-only camps as well.)

Each year, there’s the National Teach-In where many schools invite people in from the community to discuss what they do.  It’s both rewarding and fun to participate in this event. Even if you’re not directly in a STEM field, perspective from any position in an organization providing STEM related products/services is beneficial. I work in marketing for a 3rd party quality control organization.  I like to introduce students to the importance of quality and the engineers that are so important to that process.

Action: There are all kinds of ways you can volunteer to support and encourage kids to enter and succeed in STEM fields. It’s worth the time. It’s everyone’s job to ensure the long-term sustainability of our workforce.

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Manufacturing Day Success…

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I didn’t know about National Manufacturing Day until last year when our local ASQ Section sponsored a Middleton High School event. Who knew that the seemingly insignificant act of me checking my son out of school early to attend the Commissioner’s proclamation that day would lead to a year of commitment to awareness and action. (Oh, and congratulations to Middleton High School, the Pre-Collegiate STEM Academy for Hillsborough County Public Schools, who has been designated by the SME Education Foundation as a Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) School Site.)

Soon after last year’s Manufacturing Day, I organized a facility tour at Heat Pipe Technology for my son’s FLL LEGO League. The kids were nine and ten at the time and had left there with such interest and enthusiasm that I thought it could be something scalable that would be a win-win.  Because of this, I decided to pursue some type of observation for 2014 at our elementary school.

10171786_805430586166126_1528563612181051291_nFlorida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) assisted with sending me ideas and materials.  They’re great! The Director of Engineering & Operations over at Heat Pipe met with the principal and I to discuss potential field trip ideas, but logistics really were an issue.  In the end, I pitched we use a LEGO theme because it was consistent with the school’s overall theme for the year.  We worked with the Morning Show to read several LEGO production fun facts and show videos about manufacturing mini-figures and bricks.  Did you know that LEGO is the largest tire manufacturer in the world?! We also sent home a handout talking about the different jobs available in manufacturing to all of of the 5th graders.

So far, I’ve heard only positive things from my network of friends in the industry regarding the overall success of the day.  Heat Pipe had 41 students and a significant increase in girls go through their doors last Friday. They even scored some positive and well-deserved PR via the local papers in the process…

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