If You Want to Change the World, These 7 Innovations Prove You Should Work in STEM

If You Want to Change the World, These 7 Innovations Prove You Should Work in STEM

For young people just starting their careers who want to make a difference, working in science and technology might be the way to have the biggest impact on the world.

Jobs in STEM are only growing in the United States, but, soon, there won't be enough trained people to fill all of the open roles. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, "the STEM workforce is crucial to America's innovative capacity and global competitiveness." As technology becomes more integral in every aspect of life and work, STEM jobs are opening up outside of traditional math or science tracks and extending to almost every field.

Innovations in science, math, technology and engineering are attempting to solve many of the world's biggest problems both in and outside of the nonprofit sector. For those looking to make an impact, learning how to code or studying a STEM subject can give people the skills they need to work on something that could make a real difference. 

These 7 recent innovations in STEM are all working to make the world a better place. 

MadiDrop Tablets

Around 783 million people worldwide don't have access to clean water, according to the United Nations. A group of University of Virginia scientists and students have created a small tablet to help solve this problem. One MadiDrop tablet can disinfect liters of water for up to six months. 

At $10 a piece with a shelf life of six months, the tablets are much more effective than other single-use water purifying methods, which can cost between $50 and $100. Creating something to purify water that's cheap to make and lasts for a long time is a much more effective way to address the issue of access to clean water in communities where this is a major challenge. 

ShareTheMeal 

Right after the next time you spend $9 on a Chipotle burrito, you could also pull out your phone and spend 44 cents on a meal for a starving child. The ShareTheMeal app, launched globally on Nov. 12, lets anyone, anywhere in the world donate a meal to a person who doesn't have enough to eat. 

The app, created by Sebastian Stricker in partnership with the U.N. World Food Programme, lets anyone fund a meal for 44 cents. Hunger still kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to the U.N. Creating an app to work towards ending world hunger one meal at a time is a pretty effective use of someone's coding skills. 

Ocean Energy Probe

Budding scientist Hannah Herbst, 15, wants to bring renewable energy to developing countries by harvesting it from the power of the ocean's current. Herbst created an energy probe out of a 3-D printed propeller, PVC pipe, a pulley and a hydroelectric generator that could successfully power three LED batteries. It only costs $12 to make the whole thing. 

Herbst won the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a $25,000 grant to keep working on her project. She says, if scaled, the probe could create enough energy to power three car batteries in an hour. According to Business Insider, "that's enough water to power saltwater desalinization pumps to provide a source of freshwater for developing countries." 

Ruby Cup

About 2.5 billion people don't have access to basic sanitation. For many women and girls, that includes access to sanitation products when they have their periods. For many African women, spending 60 cents on a package of sanitary pads is far too expensive. Ruby Cup, a company that makes menstrual cups, operates on the buy one, give one model: For every menstrual cup they sell, they donate another menstrual cup to a woman in Africa. 

The cups are reusable for up to 10 years, so they are a more cost-effective and efficient solution than supplying tampons and pads to women in these countries. They are made from medical -rade silicone, making them more eco-friendly as well. 

Rapid Assessment of Malaria Device

About 2.5 billion people don't have access to basic sanitation. For many women and girls, that includes access to sanitation products when they have their periods. For many African women, spending 60 cents on a package of sanitary pads is far too expensive. Ruby Cup, a company that makes menstrual cups, operates on the buy one, give one model: For every menstrual cup they sell, they donate another menstrual cup to a woman in Africa. 

The cups are reusable for up to 10 years, so they are a more cost-effective and efficient solution than supplying tampons and pads to women in these countries. They are made from medical-grade silicone, making them more eco-friendly as well. 

The Detroit Water Project

Out of the 750 million people in the world without water, a surprising number of them are right here in the United States. For many, it's because they can't afford to pay their own water bills. Both Tiffani Bell and Kristy Tillman thought it would be much easier for people to pay individual water bills immediately rather than donating to a large nonprofit organization to give people access to water. 

As a result, Bell and Tillman built a simple website where anyone could log on and pay someone else's water bill. The Detroit Water Project has paid the water bills for 900 families in Detroit so far; Bell hopes to expand the platform to other cities. 

Project Loon 

One of the main things holding many developing countries back from being able to move into the technological age is basic access to internet. Google's Project Loon is working to create a wireless 3G network for more remote and rural areas around the world through a number of helium balloons. These 15-meter-wide balloons have been in the works since 2012. They could end up bringing Internet access to the 60% of the world's population without it, opening up a number of economic opportunities for these communities. 

These are just a handful of the inventions coming from science, math, technology and engineering that are trying to address some of the world's biggest challenges. Working for a nonprofit isn't the only way to make the world a better place. Building something with the power of science and technology could be the way to make an even bigger impact.