In honor of Father’s Day, we interviewed a few dads whose adult children chose careers in STEM. We were curious whether they thought they might have had any influence on their children’s careers and were surprised to learn that each of the dads we spoke with also had careers in STEM! We spoke to a pharmacist, a computer scientist, an electrical engineer, and an aerospace engineer who works on rockets and satellites of all kinds. The electrical engineer we spoke with has a patent for a chip on the Hubble telescope! So cool!
As a child, how many times were you asked the question: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” As a young child, your response to that question would most likely be influenced by the people in your little world and the things you would do every day: a teacher, an artist, a dancer, a soccer player, a mommy. As you grow, your response would likely change as your sphere of influence grows and your attention to detail is enhanced: an author, a firefighter, a nurse, a doctor, an actor, a singer, a scientist, and astronaut.
But who, in a child’s world, is most likely to influence their career choice? Their parents! Data drawn from the General Social Survey from 1994 to 2016 and summarized in the New York Times, indicates that children are 1.7 times to 2.7 times as likely to follow in their parent’s career footsteps. This career alignment can be attributed to multiple factors including education, connections, what is discussed around the dinner table, parents’ social circles, what parents can buy, and inherited aptitudes.
For Father’s Day, the dads we interviewed had some great hobbies growing up. Our electrical engineer loved building train tracks and manipulating them to set off the signals – he was an electrical engineer at heart from a young age. Our aerospace engineer prefers being outdoors hiking, biking, rock climbing, and running. Our pharmacist also loves running in addition to gardening and identifying wildflowers. All of these amazing dads believe their career and hobbies influenced their children’s careers as well as their hobbies even though they encouraged them to make their own choices.
Our computer scientist had a strong love of science and appreciation for the earth’s beauty. He raised his family in Alaska and Hawaii, both places with very little light pollution. His son believes his ability to see the stars and dream beyond his reality was probably the greatest gift given to him by his dad. His son now has a career in computer science and is practically a walking/talking encyclopedia.
Our electrical engineer always had car parts all over the place. He always hoped to complete one car out of all those parts and encouraged his son and daughters to play with the parts and help him fix parts of engines and chassis. He could easily fix anything that needed to be repaired — TV’s, sprinklers, fences, wiring – and never needed to call a handyman or a professional. This was well before YouTube had an instructional video for everything! His son now has an incredibly cool job developing video games.
Our pharmacist and his daughter loved going on hikes together, gardening, and raising rescue dogs. He loved teaching his daughter about plants. She is now an environmental policy analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency, she is raising two rescue dogs, and her desk always has the most plants in the office.
Our aerospace engineer’s children were always very aware of what was going on in the aerospace field. They lived near DC and would frequently ride bikes to the National Mall to spend hours exploring the museums. The toured laboratories, saw satellites, and viewed launches. The enjoyed setting up new technology around the home, taking things apart and putting them back together, building with Legos, and learning how STEM impacts every aspect of life. He always made sure to involve his children in projects around the home. His daughter learned she could merge her love of math and science to help protect the environment, driving her decision to become an environmental engineer. His son is pursuing a career in computer science.
Our aerospace engineer has shared some great advice regarding careers in computer science. He said his son “has no clue what he wants to be when he grows up,” which he says, “is good, because it is more important to focus on learning everything you can, especially learning how to learn, because you can bet whatever you study will be obsolete within 10 years. The nice thing about Computer Science (or most STEM backgrounds) is it impacts every aspect of life, you can work in any field you want – health, business, aerospace, entertainment, you name it, computers and software are in every field.”
Like these wonderful dads, one thing you can do now to possibly influence your child’s potential career in STEM is incorporating STEM activities into their everyday life with iSprowt, an educational gift for kids. The best thing about our projects is that you can work on them as a family. It’s Father’s Day and we want to thank the dads who take the time to work on fun projects with their kids – we appreciate you! We also want to say a very special thank you to the dads who shared their stories with us – thank you!
Happy Father’s Day from iSprowt!