The mouse of the future? Your eyeballs

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picture of person using their eyeball to control their mouse

By Katharine Schwab

Most of us control our technology using our fingers and hands, whether that’s through touch screens or a mouse. But for years, individuals with disabilities have used their eyes as a way to control digital interfaces.

Tablets like the Tobii Dynavox EyeMobile+ give people with cerebral palsy and other conditions the ability to use the internet, communicate, and even play games using just their eyes as a mouse.

Now, researchers are experimenting with ways to bring eye-tracking technology to general users. At the annual ACM Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference last week, scholars presented three new methods for able-bodied people to take advantage of a user interface that has mostly stayed within the realm of assistive technology. The experiments show how using your eyes as a tool to control a computer could make everyone more productive, not just people who are disabled. It’s an example of the power of inclusive design: When technologies are built to accommodate users who have disabilities, everyone else benefits, too.

Proofreading emails–or any other chunk of text–with just your eyes

One of the most annoying things about writing is typos: They’re inevitable, but they’re a pain to go back and fix. Academics at the University of Auckland and the University of Bath presented a research paper at CHI that proposes using your gaze to fix those pesky little mistakes and navigate a chunk of text. First, you look at the typo you want to fix (something you’re probably doing anyway). Then, you start typing. The program, called ReType, identifies the word you’re trying to change based on your gaze, and replaces it with whatever you type. Then, you just have to press enter to continue, enabling you to keep your hands on the keyboard as you continue to edit your mistakes. Your cursor then stays in the location you just edited, enabling you to insert or delete text there. It turns your eyeballs into a mouse.

The study included a variety of keyboard users, some of whom had used gaze-tracking technology before, and the researchers showed that the method was able to match and sometimes beat the speed of using a mouse. Plus, users liked it: “We were very pleased to hear from a number of users that they expect ReType to be helpful in addressing and preventing repetitive strain injury,” Gerald Weber, a computer science lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, tells Fast Company via email, referring to the musculoskeletal damage that’s caused by small repetitive tasks like clicking, typing, and using a mouse. Currently, Retype is just a prototype, but the research team has patented it and wants to turn it into a product.

Navigating through code without ever using a mouse

Studies have found that developers spend about 35% of their time navigating through their code while they’re working. When they’re debugging, they spend about 50% of their time looking for information–something that slows them down considerably.

Using eye tracking to communicate with colleagues

As more people work remotely, collaboration across distance can be difficult. But a study from researchers at Pomona College that was presented at CHI shows how eye tracking could act as a collaborative tool. The researchers focused on the challenges of collaborating on a piece of writing while working in different places, something that has become common with the popularity of tools like Google Docs. They conducted a study with 20 pairs of academics, each of whom had an eye-tracking device at the bottom of their screen that showed their collaborator where they were looking within a digital text editor. After completing writing tasks where they did and did not have access to the location of the other person’s gaze, the study participants reported more mutual understanding, higher joint attention, greater flow of communication, and increased awareness of what their co-author was doing when they could see where their partner was looking. (The eye-tracking technology only shows up within the text editor, so collaborators wouldn’t be able to spy on each other’s eye movements outside of that context.)

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Geeky Stars: Hollywood Celebrities Who Studied Science

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image of the famous Hollywood sign on the hillside

Do people possessing degrees in science, medicine, or technology always continue working in their own field of study? Absolutely not!

Many students, after graduating from college, end up pursuing other careers out of genuine interest.

Instead of looking for the usual academic, government, or industry jobs, many such science geeks adopted a slightly different path and became well-known celebrities. Let us have a look at what these celebrities were up to before choosing this alternative career.

Mayim Bialik

Celebrities

(Image Credits: iDominick via Wikipedia)

She is best known for her role as neurobiologist, Amy Farrah Fowler on ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Mayim Bialik was also the lead in a famous 90’s sitcom ‘Blossom. In 2000, she completed her BS in Neuroscience and Hebrew & Jewish Studies from UCLA. In 2007, she earned her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA after completing her doctoral thesis. Her thesis was on ‘Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader–Willi syndrome’.

 

Natalie Portman

Celebrities
(Image Credits: Georges Biard via Wikipedia)

Natalie Portman debuted in ‘Léon: The Professional’ in 1994. However, she continued to gain recognition for her performances in movies such as ‘Closer’, ‘Black Swan’, and ‘V for Vendetta’. In 2003, she completed her BA in Psychology from Harvard University. Previously, in 1998, she was a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search and co-authored the following study: ‘Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy’ (doi:10.1006/nimg.2002.1170). In an interview for the New York Post, she mentioned, ”I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”

 

Ken Jeong

Celebrities

(Image Credits: Nan Palmero via Wikipedia)

Ken Jong is best known for his role as ‘Leslie Chow’ in the ‘Hangover’ trilogy and ‘Ben Chang’ for the sitcom ‘Community’. He is a physician, comedian, and actor. He completed his graduation from Duke University, followed by an MD from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Interestingly, in a sitcom on ABC, he portrays the role of Dr. Ken who is also a physician!

 

Rowan Atkinson

Celebrities

(Image Credits: Eva Rinaldi via Wikipedia)

For many of us, he has immortalized the character of ‘Mr. Bean’ through his perfect comic timing, Rowan Atkinson who has been awarded a CBE has also worked in acclaimed programs such as Blackadder and Not the Nine O’Clock News. He completed his BSc in Electrical Engineering from University of Newcastle and MSc in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s College, Oxford.

 

Lisa Kudrow

Celebrities

(Image Credits: Lan Bui via Wikipedia)

Lisa Kudrow gained global fame for her character ‘Phoebe Buffay’ in the famous sitcom, Friends. Although she played the character of a quirky masseuse, she was possibly more qualified to be the palaentologist instead of Ross! As a student, Lisa earned her BS degree in Biology from Vassar College. She spent some time doing research with her father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, a well-renowned clinician in the field of headache medicine.

 

Eva Longoria

Celebrities

(Image Credits:Georges Biard via Wikipedia)

She is known for her role as ‘Isabella Braña’ on ‘The Young and the Restless’ and as ‘Gabrielle Solis’ in ‘Desperate Housewives’, Eva Longoria received BS degree in Kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She earned her MA degree in Chicano and Chicana Studies from California State University and her thesis was titled ‘Success STEMS From Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers’.

Continue on to Enago.com to read the complete article.

 

 

Cyber Security Awareness Training for all Ages in Delaware

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image of a breakout box on a table

Children and adults in Sussex County are now getting hands-on cyber security awareness training at the Selbyville library thanks to Cyber Streets and the library itself.

Cyber Streets is a nonprofit organization that was started in Dover back in 2017. Founder Rob Bentley began spreading the knowledge at the Selbyville Library on June 3rd and he now runs the program there every other Monday. The Sussex County Stem Alliance helped connect Bentley to volunteers and this week they’re using what is called the ‘break out box’ to learn how cyber security is used to break into something.

“They go around looking for clues,” Bentley explains. “They find those clues, put them together, and work together as teams to crack the code on the puzzle that actually unlocks the locks to get into the box.”

Thirteen-year-old Eleni Apostolidis of Millsboro has been homeschooled her entire life. She’s thankful for an after-school opportunity that is available to students like her. “It can teach us coding if we want to maybe look into the community a bit more to find tools to maybe create our own software in the future,” she shares.

Most of the students who’ve been attending in Selbyville are homeschooled students but Cyber Streets is open to anyone. Bentley says he teaches people from six to sixty-years-old. In fact, many parents join their kids in these lessons.

The program is completely free. To sign up in Selbyville, reach out to the library or Cyber Streets. Bentley says those interested in attending can simply show up to the next lesson on July 29.

Continue on to WBOC.com to read the complete article.

Why Aren’t More Women in Computer Science?

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By Suzanne Weston

Until 1984, growth of women entering professions including physical sciences, law, medicine, and computer science was steady, but then something changed. After the introduction of personal computers, the percentage of women in computer science flattened and then plunged, even though the number of professional women kept rising.

Initially, personal computers were toys used for playing simple games, marketed directly to boys and men. While both genders are equally talented in logic and problem solving, boys were given computers more often than girls. And boys were more comfortable when teachers started using computers in the classroom.

Teachers have a significant influence on students’ decisions to study computer science. Students who receive positive reinforcement are three times more likely to go into computer science, and the window for making this impact occurs before age 14. Therefore, children need exposure to computers at a young age.

Is it realistic for both women and men to enter computer science and related fields?

Yes. Harvey Mudd College demonstrated that women are as capable as men in computer science (CS). They introduced CS courses with different names: “Introductory Java” became “Creative Problem-Solving in Science and Engineering Using Computational Approaches,” and changing the course name reduced intimidation due to lack of prior exposure. Classes were structured to become collaborative and team-oriented (which appealed to women who found the stereotypical loner geek programmer unappealing). The percentage of women in CS increased from 10 percent to 50 percent. The solution was to create an environment where women can flourish.

Why aren’t more women in computer science?

Women think differently than men. Because women want to avoid mistakes, they may become frustrated when their code does not work. Because men see learning programming as a trial-and-error process, they don’t see code not running as a reflection of their skills. Adding check-points to affirm success can build women’s confidence.

Since socialization and collaboration are important to women when selecting careers, they may feel isolation until more women enter the field. Women need role models. Programs like Girls Who Code address this gap. They encourage girls to take advanced placement (AP) classes in high school, which positions them to study technical disciplines in college. Seventy percent of students who took the AP exam say they want to work in computer science; this shows the importance of early exposure in framing career aspirations.

Attracting women to technology is the first step toward developing women in CS. The second step is building an inclusive culture that offers career advancement and encourages them to remain in CS. Women leave technology companies at twice the rate of men. Early intervention and education will begin to close the gap between women and men in CS. Female students who have visible, female role models in CS careers and receive encouragement from parents and teachers can increase the likelihood that they pursue additional CS courses and degrees (2017 Gallup poll). To thrive in business, women need a collaborative culture with role models.

ShareSpace Education donates 50 Giant Moon Map™ packages to 50 schools and museums around the world

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Childer are standing on a giant map of the Moon while a teacher explains what they are seeing on the map

The Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) announced its ShareSpace Education has named 50 global recipients of its new Giant Moon Map™ program.

Launched in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, this one-of-a-kind educational tool sparks creativity in students while they learn STEAM concepts and celebrate one of humankind’s greatest achievements. The donation is collectively valued at more than $240,500.

“As we move closer to the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, there is a renewed fascination with this historic achievement,” said Dr. Andrew Aldrin, president of AFF. “The response to the launch of the Giant Moon Map™ program a few months ago was phenomenal, with more applications than we ever imagined. Everyone clearly sees how it’s the perfect tool to help teach today’s youth about that moment in time, while helping them build a love for STEAM-based concepts. Our goal is that this initial donation of 50 maps will only be the beginning.”

Giant Moon Map™ packages will be distributed to schools and educational institutions in 45 states, including: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. In addition, packages were awarded to 5 schools and educational institutions in Canada, Germany, India and Mexico. Click here to see the full list of recipients.

Each ShareSpace Education Giant Moon Map™ program package includes either a 25’ x 25’ vinyl map of the Moon or a 15’ x 15’ one. Both sizes also come with 15 Welcome to the Moon books and the Moon Map educational activities package. Through a new partnership with AstroReality, the kit now includes a 120mm 3D model of the Moon. The model features augmented reality technology that enhances interactions on the map through each of the Apollo mission patches, teaching students about the six landing sites where 12 humans have walked on the moon. The package features authentic, fun lessons and activities designed especially for students ages 10 to 14, and access to in-person and online program training from ShareSpace Education.

AFF worked with donors to make the 50 Giant Moon Map™ packages available for distribution. The program launched in April at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Convention in St. Louis. Applications from individual schools, school districts and informal education organizations were accepted through May 18, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 10 launch. All applications were reviewed by an independent team of judges with the aim of distributing the packages to educational institutions where they can do the most good, especially in underserved communities.
 
For more information, visit sharespace.org/giant-moon-map/.

About the Aldrin Family Foundation

The Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) strives to cultivate the next generation of space leaders, entrepreneurs and explorers who will extend human habitation beyond the Earth to the Moon and Mars. AFF’s STEAM-based educational tools, educational activities and programs span from a child’s first classroom experience through graduate school and professional programs. This vertical pathway unites explorers at all levels to learn from each other’s vision for space, ultimately creating the first generation of Martians.

About ShareSpace Education

ShareSpace Education, one of the key organizations within the Aldrin Family Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating children’s passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) by providing innovative, interactive educational tools to schools, teachers and information educations throughout the United States and abroad. Founded in 2016 by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, ShareSpace has reached more than 300,000 children and continues to grow its impact each year.

WonderWorks Orlando Takes Magic Comedy Dinner Show to New Heights

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WonderWorks magician using flamethrower props on stage at dinner show

Those visiting Orlando who love magic will not want to miss The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show at WonderWorks. The indoor amusement park is taking the long-running magic comedy show to a whole new level, by using technology to create more interaction with the audience.

While previously only a small group of people would get the interactive experience, the new technology allows the whole audience become part of the show.  Plus, world-renowned magician Tony Brent will be thrilling crowds with more magic, and a straightjacket reenactment.

“Our fans loved the magic comedy show before, but now it’s going to be even more interactive and exciting,” explains Brian Wayne, general manager of WonderWorks Orlando. “This is a show that all ages can enjoy. It’s funny, it’s magical, and it’s an amazing experience for all who attend.”

The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show will be adding the new close up experience starting the last week of June 2019. The new elements will include mind-bending magic that the whole family will enjoy. The magic in the show will become more “magical” and make the show an even more amazing experience for all. Additional new elements for the dinner show include:

  • There will be three shows per day all month of July 2019, including at 4 pm, 6 pm, and 8 pm.
  • Tony Brent will reenact the famous and legendary feat by the world’s most famous magician, Harry Houdini, dating back to the early 1900’s. He will present the “Straightjacket Escape,” giving the audience a full view of the escape.
  • Dinner show guests can enjoy a delicious meal of unlimited hand-tossed pizza that is made fresh in-house, as well as salad, dessert, and unlimited drinks, including beer and wine.

“This is going to be an exciting time to see the magic comedy dinner show,” added Wayne. “Combining great food with a world-class magic show is going to give people a one-of-a-kind experience. We look forward to seeing the smilesWonderWorks magician onstage with young boy from audience involved in his magic act and good vibes this show creates for all who attend.”

Tony Brent is the star and producer of The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show, which is the longest running magic dinner show in the world. His show combines magic tricks, comedy, audience participation, and more. The show was named “One of America’s Ten Best Magic Shows” by the Travel Channel.

WonderWorks in Orlando is an adventure that tourists and locals both enjoy. The indoor amusement park is open 365 days per year from 9:00 a.m. until midnight. WonderWorks features a glow-in-the-dark ropes course, laser tag, 4D XD motion theater, magic comedy dinner show, and the Wonder Zones, which include interactive exhibits on natural disasters, space discovery, light and sound zone, imagination lab, far out art gallery, and a physical challenge zone. With over 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment,” the attraction combines education and entertainment with over 100 hands-on exhibits. To get more information or purchase tickets, visit the site at: wonderworksonline.com/orlando/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks the upside-down adventure is a science-focused indoor amusement park for the mind that holds something unique and interesting for visitors of all ages. Guests enter through an upside-down lobby with the ceiling at their feet and the ground above their head and must pass through an inversion tunnel to be turned right side up. There are three floors of nonstop “edu-tainment,” with over 100 hands-on and interactive exhibits that serve a STEM educational purpose to challenge the mind and spark the imagination. WonderWorks Orlando is also home to The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show. WonderWorks has locations in Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach, and Syracuse. For more information, visit the site wonderworksonline.com/orlando/.

The University of Hawai’i Partners with SACNAS Conference to Help Achieve True Diversity in STEM

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The University of Hawaiʻi will be the Presenting Sponsor for 2019 SACNAS-The National Diversity in STEM Conference. UH will support the convening of more than 4,000 STEM professionals, scientists, engineers and college students at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center from October 31–November 2, 2019 for the country’s largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event.

The conference is produced and hosted by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), an inclusive organization with over 45 years of experience of fostering the success underrepresented minorities in STEM.

“With the most diverse campuses in the nation, the University of Hawaiʻi is perfectly aligned with the mission and goals of SACNAS,” said UH President David Lassner. “This is also an amazing opportunity to showcase the work of our faculty bringing together Hawaiʻi’s traditional indigenous knowledge and practice with modern science to better understand and address the challenges and opportunities we all face.”

Estimates show the conference’s thousands of attendees from across the nation could have an economic impact of more than $14 million on the state of Hawaiʻi. Through the sponsorship, UH looks forward to highlighting the STEM leadership and expertise, often seen through a unique indigenous lens, that abounds in its 10 campuses across the state. It will be an important opportunity to recruit faculty and students from underrepresented populations as the experience UH’s affordable community colleges committed to open access and student success, regional universities with distinctive hands-on programs, and the flagship UH Mānoa research university one of only a handful of land-, sea-, sun- and space-grant institutions and a global leader in earth and environmental sciences, consistently ranked among the top 15 universities internationally.

“The SACNAS conference is fully aligned with Hawaiʻi for partnering with SACNAS in the essential work of making the scientific enterprise diverse, equitable and inclusive, ” said SACNAS President Sonia Zárate.

“SACNAS is excited to work with the University of Hawaiʻi to develop relevant, meaningful, and culturally inclusive STEM programming that will reflect the values, community, and spirit of Hawaiʻi at this year’s conference. We look forward to welcoming students from across Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Islands. SACNAS is equally excited to develop a year-round partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi that will have a lasting impact well beyond the 2019 conference,” said John D. Winnett, SACNAS executive director.

Virtual Training Tackles Fires

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firefighter putting out fire

When on the scene of a fire and other emergency situations, a firefighter’s work can be dangerous. When not in an emergency, firefighters remain on call at fire stations, where they sleep, eat, and perform other duties during shifts that often last 24 hours. Many firefighters work more than 40 hours per week.

Instead of dangerous, expensive, traditional training that firefighters normally have to go through, however, they can now tackle fires in a safe and realistic way.

FLAIM Trainer® family of solutions are next-generation firefighter training systems, which comprise an immersive virtual reality environment combined with realistic scenarios, patented force feedback system, breathing apparatus, real nozzles, and heated personal protective clothing to provide a unique training and engagement experience.

This safe, low-cost, mobile and distributed solution can simulate a range of fire events and conditions for training firefighters. With virtual reality, firefighters can train more, train better, and train anywhere.

Sources: Darley, Flaim Systems

The Engineers of Formula 1

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Two cars pictured at the F1 Grand Prix of Australia. Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

By Peter Placey

When you’re watching a Formula 1 (F1) race, you don’t see the driver, the medical delegates, stewards, safety car driver or the race director—you see the cars. But who builds these high-speed machines? One word: engineers. What does it take to be a F1 engineer?

Most race engineers need a degree or equivalent in mechanical or automotive engineering. Many mechanical engineering courses last three to four years. Annual salary for race engineers:$84K–$152K

There is no average in F1—you have to be the best. Car engineers are the drivers’ ‘right hands’—they have to be resilient, quick thinkers, able to communicate effectively with each member of the team and most of all, have a passion for racing.

Bernadette Collins, who is breaking barriers for women with the Sahara Force India F1 team as a performance and strategy engineer, said in an interview with The Guardian, “Whether it’s a male or female doing the job, we’ve got some of the best engineers in the business.”

Is AI the Next Great Art Movement?

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AI image with two computer simulated brains facing each other and art in the background

For decades now, computers have been used to automate routine and tedious tasks. But what lay outside the ability of computers was to simulate the human intelligence and, even beyond that, artistic creativity.

Technology has evolved to the point that artificial intelligence (AI) can now “learn” from an artist, recognizing elements of the art created by that person and then creating its own. What, then, is the meaning of art? In 2018, the first AI-created art work—originally projected to sell for $7,000–$10,000—was sold for $442,500. Since then, many artists have started exploring the creative potential that AI can bring to the world.

Sougwen Chung: Machine-Generated Art

Chinese-born Sougwen Chung is an internationally renowned multi-disciplinary artist, who uses hand-drawn and technologically reproduced marks to address theSougwen is painting on a canvas draped table with a small robot on the table closeness between person-to-person and person-to-machine communication. A former research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, she is also a current Artist in Residence at Bell Labs and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Sougwen is one of the pioneering artists of her generation—her art challenges the imagination through its minimalist yet dramatic form. The former Artist in Residence at Google has explored innovative ways to utilize virtual reality as a medium for storytelling and rapid prototyping. Sougwen’s art speaks of movement and change and reflects images of nature in a truly modern setting.

Source: sougwen.com, viridianartists.com and voanews.com

15 Best Cities for STEM Careers (and Quality of Life)

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Professional Black Woman

By Nick Kolakowski

It’s a good time to work in a STEM field—many companies are hungry for engineers, developers, and mathematicians.

But not every metro area is a good one for STEM careers; for example, many have lots of job opportunities, but a stratospheric cost of living, while others simply lack jobs.

WalletHub recently crunched some numbers and came up with best metro areas for STEM professionals.

In an utterly unsurprising turn of events, some of the country’s biggest tech hubs topped the list (despite higher costs of living), although some smaller towns also did quite well.

 

 

WalletHub graded 100 metro areas on three benchmarks:

  • Professional opportunities (including job openings, share of workforce in STEM, projected demand for STEM jobs, etc.)
  • STEM friendliness (quality of local engineering universities, tech meetups per capita, etc.)
  • Quality of life (housing affordability, family-friendliness, and so on.)

Here are the results for the top 15 cities.

Best Cities for STEM Jobs

  1. Seattle, WA
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Pittsburgh, PA
  4. Austin, TX
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Madison, WI
  7. Atlanta, GA
  8. Salt Lake City, UT
  9. Minneapolis, MN
  10. Cincinnati, OH
  11. San Diego, CA
  12. Columbus, OH
  13. Hartford, CT
  14. Springfield, MA
  15. Worcester, MA

For STEM workers across the United States, the message here is pretty clear: There are lots of places around the country with good quality of living—and great job opportunities.

Source: insights.dice.com