H. Mike Shealey | Survival Guide: Perspectives from the field

H. Mike Shealey, Maryland Center for Career and Technology Studies

Perched on the Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Museum of Industry collects, preserves and interprets the city's industrial and technological history. Although the region's industrial business has faded somewhat, it remains a major U.S. port with a deep cultural history. The museum embraces the city's entire history.

H. Mike Shealey is passionate about the museum's mission, particularly its role in sparking an interest in children for math and science. He is director of the museum's Maryland Center for Career and Technology Education Studies. The center's mission is to support educators and the community in developing certified Career and Technology Education teachers and administrators.

One of the center's most popular programs is "Engineering Challenges," a series of competitive activities for students in grades 1-12. The activities range from building model cargo ships to designing a robot and are designed to introduce students to the engineer's role in today's society.

For Shealey, the competition is an important way to keep children interested in math and science. Shealey recently spoke with staff writer Doug Beizer about his work at the center and the museum's mission.


WT: How important is it for the U.S. economy to interest children in
subjects such as math, science and engineering?

Shealey: Getting kids interested in technology is the most fundamental thing we can do in this country to ensure its future as a world leader. You can have all the resources, but if you don't have people, you don't have anything. We need people who understand math, science, technology and the interface of those disciplines.

WT: What's the payoff for those who learn these subjects?

Shealey: We're hoping to make people technology-literate. Technology is really an understanding of systems, and the "Engineering Challenge" does just that. It's not designed to make little engineers; the reality is you are trying to get them to understand technology as a system for accomplishing something.

WT: Computers and software evolve at such a fast pace. In your experience, is that pace an issue that needs to be addressed?

Shealey: In the 1980s when we got the first Apple IIEs, we wanted to do some computer-controlled equipment work. Two students from Georgia [Institute of Technology] came here to show us their project: a computer controlling a drill boring holes in a plastic. We wanted to put the plastic on the drill press and have it move repeatedly. They came up with a positioning table and a cutter to make continuous cuts. That concept hasn't changed a whole lot; we still move over X and Y axes in industry. So building on old concepts is an effective means of progress.

WT: What are your favorite displays in the museum?

Shealey: My father worked for the Martin Company in the 1920s. An experimental plane project he worked on became my doorway to the museum. [The museum has] a display of the experimental seaplane my father worked on. The stories of people like him who are connected with this stuff are fascinating. This place is all about everyday people who do extraordinary things.

WT: There have been many missteps in computer product development over the years. Have similar missteps been made in industry?

Shealey: We have a whole collection of light bulbs near the entrance to the museum. There are a whole bunch of light bulbs that seem like neat technology to me but they didn't make it for whatever reason. It doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad product; it could have just been the wrong time or people just weren't ready for it.

WT: As manufacturing jobs move overseas, does industry still play an important role in the United States?

Shealey: It is different now, but yes, it's very important. Right now the museum is working with the Maryland Economic Development Department. They're looking at putting a gigantic ice cream plant in Laurel, Md., because there is a big dairy business nearby in Pennsylvania. There's a supply of butterfat; it makes sense to turn that into ice cream. So there are still opportunities today.

WT: What does the future look like for industry and technology in Baltimore?

Shealey: We still have a working shipyard next-door to the museum. Next to that is the Domino Sugar facility. And next to that is the Tide Point Waterfront Park where a lot of technology companies are based. So you've got a conglomeration of things that generate this synergy of inventiveness and creativity. That's been the hot thing about Baltimore from the beginning.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close
SEARCH
contracts DB

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Read More

  • Is SBA MIA on contractor fraud? Nick Wakeman

    Editor Nick Wakeman explores the puzzle of why SBA has been so silent on the latest contractor fraud scandal when it has been so quick to act in other cases. Read More

Webcasts

  • How Do You Support the Project Lifecycle?

    How do best-in-class project-based companies create and actively mature successful organizations? They find the right mix of people, processes and tools that enable them to effectively manage the project lifecycle. REGISTER for this webinar to hear how properly managing the cycle of capture, bid, accounting, execution, IPM and analysis will allow you to better manage your programs to stay on scope, schedule and budget. Learn More!

  • Sequestration, LPTA and the Top 100

    Join Washington Technology’s Editor-in-Chief Nick Wakeman as he analyzes the annual Top 100 list and reveals critical insights into how market trends have impacted its composition. You'll learn what movements of individual companies means and how the market overall is being impacted by the current budget environment, how the Top 100 rankings reflect the major trends in the market today and how the biggest companies in the market are adapting to today’s competitive environment. Learn More!