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An Inventor’s Inspiration

westJames E. West knows how to invent things. Currently a research professor of electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University, West spent 40 years at Bell Laboratories, where he co-invented the microphone that’s used in most telephones and other electronic devices. He’s also an African-American inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. West was recently in Akron, Ohio, where he spoke to a regional conference on STEM education that was attended by around 200 educators, business people and community leaders, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. He told the gathering that if American wants to get back to inventing and making things, it must change K-12 student attitudes toward science and math. When he was a kid, he admitted, he was a “nerd” and got beaten because of it — to the point where he almost wanted to stop getting A’s. “We’ve got to change that paradigm in every school,” he said. The theme of the conference was exploring ways to make STEM education more interesting and relevant to students through collaborations among schools, governments, businesses and community organizations. West plans to help fifth graders with an acoustics research project this spring at the National Inventors Hall of Fame School.

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