5 STEM Leaders your Students Should Know About

Tahlea Jankoski | Published  April 17, 2017



Who are the famous STEM leaders transforming the world of STEM? Do your students follow their favorite STEM professionals?

We live in a technology-driven world that continues to have a need for more STEM professionals. Renowned leaders in the STEM industry are great role models for students interested in STEM careers.

Teaching students about famous STEM leaders can help them see how a solid STEM curriculum is the foundation in developing skills needed for future STEM professions. Here are five famous STEM leaders who are revolutionizing the STEM industry and the world around us.Elon Musk: Technology and Engineering

As the founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, and the founder of PayPal,  Elon Musk is currently one of the most well known STEM professionals with a wealth worth over $13 billion dollars. Elon has always had a passion for learning. This passion has shaped his huge success as a STEM professional. 

Elon Musk studied business, economics, and physics at the University of Pennsylvania and briefly pursued a Ph.D. in energy physics at Stanford University. He launched his first company, Zip2 Corporation, and then went on to create PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX in more recent years. 

Liu Yang: Pilot & Astronaut

Liu Yang became the first female Chinese astronaut in 2012 when she boarded the Shezhou-9. Liu Yang started her career in aerospace right after high school when a teacher suggested she enrolled in aviation school. After being a fighter pilot in the Chinese Air Force, Liu Yang was recruited to join a rigorous two-year astronaut-training program. 

Terence Tao: Mathematics

Terence is definitely a genious when it comes to mathematics. At nine years old, he scored 760 on the SAT and took university-level math courses.  Terence was able to be around several kids who also shared a passion for math. Working together with these classmates, they were able to further enhance their understanding of concepts and further develop their mathematical prowess. 

At sixteen years old, Terence received a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Flinders University and received a PhD from Princeton University at twenty-one years old. At twenty-four, he became a professor at the University of California - Los Angeles and his award-winning math achievements made during this time became more focused in a variety of in-depth mathematical analyses. 

Robert Tijan: Biochemist

Born in Hong Kong, China, Robert Tijan started his education in biochemistry with a bachelor's degree from Berkley and PhD from Harvard University. He has made huge contributions to understanding how genes work and pioneered the discovery of transcription factors that regulate gene expression. He has received several awards for his work in gene regulation and was the president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for several years. 

Frances Allen: Computer Science

At a young age, Frances Allen knew she wanted to be a math teacher. She earned an MA in Mathematics and learned computing, later landing her a job with IBM. Most of her career with IBM (International Business Machines) was focused on developing programming language to make it more efficient for programmers. She pioneered several techniques that are commonly used in computer science. She is the first woman to win the A.M. Turing Award. 

Continued STEM Inspiration

STEM leaders are found in a variety of professions and can be great role models to help students understand how our world continues to advance with their contributions. As education becomes more progressive, it is important to highlight these individuals and continue sharing their stories to students as inspiration for a better future. 


State of STEM education in the United States


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