Charles Miller, The American Chemical Society

Charles Miller
Senior  Chemist
Eastman Chemical Company    

     STEM education is important for three primary reasons.  First, it is critical to our economy’s future to prepare students for high demand jobs.  Second, all citizens will need a STEM background to understand and participate in an increasingly technical society.  Third, science and math are fundamental to understanding and appreciating the universe.  STEM is important to me, my employer, and my community. I am an analytical chemist for a major manufacturer, Eastman Chemical Company.  Analytical chemists develop techniques of detection and measurement, essential for any science and necessary for quality control and safety in a manufacturing environment.  There are also many non-technical roles at Eastman (such as sales, law, HR, etc.) that must function within a STEM business.  In addition, I am a Board member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and support our mission to “educate the general public about the importance of chemistry in our lives”.  This mission is facilitated by initiatives to advance STEM education.

     My initial interest in chemistry was philosophical.  There are many paths to different understandings of how our world functions and our place in it.  Many millennia have produced many philosophies that can be debated ad nauseam in the absence of data.  In a few short centuries, amazing insights have been produced by the objective, verifiable process of science.  It is a means of determining which explanations correspond to what is measured.  Data can dispel ideas that seem reasonable to the existing cultures and paradigms.  Therefore, STEM plays a role in moving humanity forward.  Chemistry, with physics, is fundamental to all known processes in the universe.  An appreciation of these fields allows one to share in the excitement of discovery and participate in solving the critical issues of our day.  Society has shifted dramatically to a science and technology basis due to both the practical innovations that improve our lives and the discoveries that enhance our understanding.  The Big Bang, fundamental particles, formation of the Earth, life, the brain, our mind, climate, health/disease, the future are all topics that are described and understood in scientific and mathematical language.

     STEM education has become increasingly necessary for all people.  It is necessary as an informed consumer to understand product efficacy as well as the ecological, health, safety, economic, and other impacts of our choices.  It is necessary for an informed electorate as we wrestle with political issues of a technical nature, such as global warming, energy, genetic engineering, medical care, and other topics.  It is necessary for making healthy decisions, including those about diet, exercise, lifestyle, diseases, and treatments.  STEM has a permanent and growing presence in all our lives.  This makes STEM education of the utmost importance to a thriving society and to you individually.

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