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DuPont's Kullman on innovation, education and skills

Aug 13, 2012
Carter Wood

Bloomberg's Carol Hymowitz interviews Ellen Kullman, CEO and chairman of the board of DuPont, on technology, innovation, education and engineering jobs for women.

Question: What about the educational system?

Kullman: Oh, boy.

Question: Has it let companies like DuPont down?

Kullman: I’m not sure about “let down.” We as a country have done a lot to enable opportunities around science. We’re not educating our kids to take advantage of it. And it doesn’t start in high school; it starts in grade school. It starts with a science curriculum in grade school that’s relevant to the kids’ world, which is a lot different than when the science curriculum was actually written, which was decades ago. There are a lot of programs out there that try to create that, whether it’s the Lego Robotics program or Model Maker. And that’s great, but only if the child has the opportunity to participate after school or on weekends. It’s got to be part of the core curriculum.

Delaware, I think, has done a pretty good job. We got Race to the Top dollars, and we’ve partnered in the state for decades around science and curriculum. Part of that Race to the Top money is employing a program out of the Boston Museum of Science called Engineering is Elementary. It literally starts in first grade, and it’s the greatest little modules at the appropriate level for the grade level. That’s what’s needed. Because by the time a kid gets to eighth grade, it’s almost too late.

A lot of my children’s friends, I’ll talk to them and I’ll say, “Have you considered engineering?” “Well, what’s that?” Kids have to see engineering as a great career opportunity.

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