The growing emphasis on STEM learning reflects our expectations for the global economy: we need to develop the skills of STEM workers to prepare for the rapid growth in STEM job opportunities. According to the US Department of Commerce, during the last 10 years, STEM job growth was three times higher than for non-STEM jobs. Expect that trend to continue.
And one place that we will need STEM experts: the Moon!
As we speak, companies are making plans to mine the Moon. Moon Express, one such company, will be competing in Google’s Lunar XPrize competition, focused on privately-funded Moon expeditions.
Just for fun, let’s take a look at some STEM jobs that one might find on the Moon, once moon-mining commences!
3d Printing Engineer: 3d printing technologies are going to be central to mining in space. Since the raw materials are already out there, it makes much more sense to manufacture on location, as opposed to transporting equipment. Industrial-sized 3d printers will also mean that broken parts can be created on-site.
Space-based Power System Engineers: Generating power on the Moon will present its unique challenges. Some speculate that Helium-3, which is present in large quantities on the Moon, will provide a clean fuel for fusion energy, although the technology still needs to be developed…
Robotics Experts: Actual moon-mining will be performed by robotic equipment. Whether on the Moon, or here on Earth, robotics is sure to be an area of steady job growth. Robotics software, hardware, engineering, maintenance, and operation will all require skilled professionals.
Space Psychologist: The Moon figures to be a challenging environment for the human beings working on-site. Companies will need processes and routines for maintaining the mental and physical well-being of workers. Space psychologist will work to screen suitable employees, and help them stay mentally balanced while working in these extreme circumstances.
Of course, many people working in the moon-mining effort will be able to participate from the comfort of our terrestrial home: space suit designers, rocket scientists, and engineers of all stripes (software, electrical, mechanical, aeronautics, propulsion, and so on…).
Amazingly, mining in space is something we can expect to see sooner than you might think. With Google’s contest, privately funded Moon expeditions will occur within the next three years.