As a student in Professional and Technical Communications (PTC) at Montana Tech, I shouldn’t have been angered by a recent post on the Facebook page “Montana Tech of the University of Montana Confessions,” a page dedicated to anonymous confessions of Montana Tech students. The post reads: “Anything but STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes here is a joke. Especially PTC and Liberal Arts. Enjoy paying off your student loans with your minimum wage McDonald’s paycheck because Tech doesn’t give two sh*%ts about you.”
I’ve faced this type of criticism after year, which is why I shouldn’t have been mad, but I was. Here I am again, facing the engineering and stem ego battle. Its no surprise that that stigma surrounding non-stem majors, as this Montana Tech student so tactfully pointed out, is that we won’t be successful, and that our place in the world is below that of engineers.
PTC, liberal studies, and business majors of the like, should know what I’m talking about when I say our degrees are looked down upon by STEM majors. Now, I realize I’m being a little stereotypical here, because not everyone thinks this way, but in my four years at Tech, I’ve encountered many students who truly believe, that because they are engineering students, they will be more successful in life and that their fields of study somehow have more meaning than other degrees because they “advance science.” Hate to burst your bubble or anything, but success in life, from what I’ve learned, is determined by how hard you want to work at something. And anyone, educated or not, who wants to work hard and with a little tact, will often find success.
My initial reaction to this Facebook post this was a middle finger up in the air, and recount of all the times during the last four years that i’ve spent trying to explain my major to people…even to the professors at Tech (I mean seriously?). After careful thought however, and calming down my 4-years of built-up anger towards Montana Tech for not only cultivating this type of atmosphere and disconnect for it’s students, but allowing it’s faculty to take part in this petty game as well, I came to the realization of a few things. 1. Diversity is the heart of every truly strong system (thanks Discover Biology) 2. Closing minds to areas of study other than science will lock you behind a narrow door and a narrow way of thinking, and leave little room for meaningful advancement.
I want to remind students that we attend a liberal arts college. I also want to remind students that no successful business on the planet operates without a marriage of STEM majors and liberal studies/business/PTC majors. Every business needs at the very least, an accountant, a writer, and a technical expert. Would you have been able to learn much here at Montana Tech without the help of a technical writer (oh hey, thanks PTC majors) writing the textbooks your teachers use on a daily basis? The knowledge of our past has been given too us through written and oral texts that were painstakingly transcribed by those who weren’t directly engaged in the fields of science. And yes, I wouldn’t even be writing this text on my Macbook today if it weren’t for mining and petroleum products, I get that. But one cannot exist without the other. The success of the petroleum and mining industries is largely due to not only a demand for these products, but the expression and creation of the demand for these products, and the business and accounting models that surround them.
It’s my fault I guess for attending a primarily mining school, and expecting other students and faculty to respect my major and other non-stem majors, but in my experience true success comes only when people collectively use their talents to work together. Only then will all facets of the worlds problems be addressed and possibly overcome. And Montana Tech, by shutting its doors, only closes opportunities. My only complaint about my education here at Tech is that my degree has been treated always as second to STEM degrees. I only see this as limiting to the student population of Montana Tech in the future and only as shutting doors to opportunities we don’t even know exist yet. Opportunities of which only can be achieved with a collaboration of degrees and fields of study.