What do engineers do? How do they think? What do they create?
Engineering Stories are free Realistic Fiction, short story dramatizations allowing the reader, through narration, description, dialogue, and thought to experience the challenges and satisfaction of being an engineer, inventor, or scientist. The stories are very plausible, being a composition of author experience and the experiences of his peers. Herein, the reader is able to listen into the mind of an engineer, see how they think, observe how they might behave, understand what makes them tick. The objective is to encourage students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), show what it may be like, dispel a myth or two, and encourage creativity, problem solving, and the confidence to make the world a better place.
In Engineering Stories you can virtually job shadow engineers and see what it is really like to work with engineers solving real problems and creating real products. The Engineering Stories book is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com. Follow the Engineering Stories blog to learn of new stories and for promotional free downloads.
There is still time to book your Professional Development workshop for this Summer!
Workshop: Teaching Engineering Made Easy (Beginning and Advanced Workshops Available) Audience: Teachers, after school programs, informal education programs Time required: 1 day – 6 hours of hands-on time Where: Your location – we come to you!
This fast-paced jammed-packed workshop is perfect for in service and/or professional development training. Learn how to bring engineering into the classroom and keep students engaged by providing activities that are content rich and fun too! Based on activities in Teaching Engineering Made Easy, this workshop is sure to get participants energized and excited about getting back to the classroom.
What teachers learned about engineering that they didn’t know before the workshop
All of it! Basically how to incorporate it into my classroom
All the different types of engineers and what they specifically do.
All the facets of engineering that I hadn’t thought about before.
All varieties of engineers – what to do/specialize in
Delivery – How to Make Engineering exciting to students.
Different activities to incorporate in my classroom.
Different fields of engineering
Engineering is everywhere – engineers are behind innovations and ordinary every day stuff.
Engineering job specifics
How many different kinds of engineers there were
Everything you see was ‘engineered’!
How simple it would be to use engineering activities with my students.
I can easily teach this! I loved the silent brainstorming too!
I have a better understanding of “How” to do a better job
It doesn’t have to be expensive to do these activities.
It doesn’t take a lot of money for some activities that can be created and expanded on.
Learned a lot of info about the different types of engineering.
Lots – kinds of engineers, value of perseverance, cooperation, communication (which is much overlooked, silent brainstorming was a great idea!)
More about specific types of engineering
Silent Brainstorming – which encourages collaboration. It was a nice reinforcement of the power of positive reinforcement & encouragement that the ‘teacher’ gave us ‘students’.
That as the teacher I DO NOT have to have all the answers. It’s OK for the kids to fix their own mistakes.
That you could make/build “things” with little resources.
The fields of engineering are so diverse. I had no idea that there were so many different types of engineers.
According to the ASEE Connections Newsletter, “18.4 percent of engineering bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women in 2010-11. That’s a slight increase from 18.1 in 2010. The percentage of engineering master’s degrees awarded to women remained the same as 2010 (22.6 percent) and decreased slightly for doctoral (21.8 percent). ”
Bachelor’s Degrees By Gender, 2011
Because so many of us are investing in programs that promote engineering to middle school girls, I’m very interested to see if the numbers rise in a few years when those middle schoolers go to college.
According to the festival website, “The Nifty Fifty (times 3) are over 150 of the most dynamic scientists and engineers in the United States. They were selected for their unique ability to inspire the next generation of students to pursue careers in the STEM fields. They were chosen from among thousands of candidates nominated by over 500 leading professional science and engineering societies, universities, research institutions, government agencies, STEM education outreach organizations and leading high tech and life science companies.”
If you are planning on attending the festival next year, please also plan to drop by my booth to say hello. I’d love to meet you and hear your stories.
As I’ve said in the past, this is by far the best event that I have ever seen for getting girls excited about, and interested in, engineering.
The day begins with ice breakers about their engineering knowledge and they we get right to building something. Mom or Dad work with their daughter to meet the given challenge. After that, we move directly into a problem solving activity usually lead by engineering students while the parents get a chance to ask questions and find out more about local programs to help them encourage and sustain their daughter’s interest. Quickly moving along, we have lunch while watching a video and then it’s back to the building area for another engineering challenge. The day goes by fast and everyone leaves happy. As one 6th grade girl said to me last week, “I hope you do this again next year because I know all of my friends will want to come when I tell them about it.”
Just like humans, as the penguins at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium get older, they begin to suffer from aches and pains. Searching for a solution, the aquarium has developed a unique partnership with engineering students at Northwestern University.
Filled with innovative tools, dynamic activities and practical lesson plans, Teaching Engineering Made Easy 2 continues where Volume One left off, with all new activities that will supercharge the teaching of engineering principles, biomedical and electrical engineering. By using this teaching guide, students can see that engineering is not something to be afraid of but a realistic way to solve the problems of everyday life.
This easy and exciting time and work saving book was developed to help middle and high school teachers with no engineering background teach engineering. It gives classroom teachers an easy and dynamic way to meet curriculum standards and competencies. You’ll find the lessons and activities to actively engage students in learning about engineering and our technological world by applying creativity and innovation as they complete the projects. The activities do not require a formal science lab and can be done with materials that are inexpensive and easy to find.
Each lesson includes background information, Standards Alignment, a list of materials needed to complete the activity, an easy-to-follow procedure for presenting the lesson, teacher notes, reproducible student sheets, and safety notes. Activities range from 20 minute problem solving exercises to several class period design or “challenge” activities.
Because I want you to be successful inspiring students, I have three special offers:
Every educator that orders this new edition before the publication date (April 6), will also receive three PowerPoint presentations that you can use in class to explain about engineering careers, biomedical, and electrical/electronic engineering careers. They are colorful, engaging, and designed to save you time.
Everyone that orders will receive a 20% off coupon towards any of our C’s Blast Packs or Blast Off Laboratories. C’s Blast Packs are the quick and easy way to get started teaching engineering. They help you bring the activities in both volumes of “Teaching Engineering Made Easy” into the late elementary, middle school and early high school classroom without the hassle of rounding up materials.
And lastly, by ordering this book before the publication date of April 6, you’ll automatically receive $5 off.
So order this updated and improved second edition today! You’ll receive three PowerPoint presentations (for General Engineering, Biomedical and Electrical/Electronic Engineering Careers), a 20% off coupon for a C’s Blast Pack or Laboratory and you’ll get the book while it’s on sale. You really can’t lose!
ASQ Survey Finds U.S. Teens Afraid of Careers that Demand Risk-Taking
“A survey conducted by ASQ has found that many U.S. teens fear careers that demand risk-taking. While 95 percent of teens agree that risk-taking is required for innovation in STEM careers, 46 percent say they are afraid to fail or uncomfortable taking risks to solve problems. The survey, which was fielded in January in advance of EWeek, reveals that students’ pressure to succeed may be driven by parents, of whom 81 percent say they are uncomfortable if their child does not perform well in sports, extracurricular activities or social situations. Of those parents, 73 percent say they feel uncomfortable when their child gets bad grades.”
Dad’s can come too!
Several years ago, I began facilitating a workshop called The Mother/Daughter TEA (Technology Engineering Aptitude). The workshop is the best I’ve ever seen at getting middle school girls interested in engineering. The girls work on projects with their Mom or a parent figure and realize they can successfully complete engineering design projects. Not only can they complete the projects, but they also find that they are creative, innovative and smart. It works because they are taking risks in a safe environment (I always stress that there are no wrong answers). Mom, Dad or the mentor that attends also gain a greater understanding of engineering careers, their daughter’s capabilities and how she may fit into the STEM pipeline – all while having fun at the same time.
We can’t change how the majority of students view risk-taking but we can set up environments that promote problem-solving in fun and engaging ways that minimize their fear and may eventually enable them to overcome it.
There are many reasons to become an engineer and just as many reasons to teach engineering. An engineering education teaches you how to think. You’ll learn problem-solving and analytical thinking skills that can help in everything you do. This education prepares you to not only become an engineer but also for continuing your education in many other fields that benefit from the analytical and systems thinking skills gained in school.
AAUW’s just-released, new study, Graduating to a Pay Gap shows that only 39% of women who graduate as engineers enter the engineering workforce–compared with 57% of male engineering grads. The skills attained in this education are useful in many occupations. In addition, the confidence gained from graduating with an engineering degree can help you become whatever you want to be.
Every year in February is Engineers Week. It’s the one time in the year that we officially get to celebrate engineering on a large scale and build momentum for all the engineering events throughout the Spring. What did you do? Did you hold a special event? Invite an engineer to visit your classroom? Did you take part in a competition?
My last two weeks were jam-packed with events. I started in Utah at Weber State University with a Parent/Daughter Day. We had 40 teams of parents and daughters that completed engineering projects together and learned about engineering careers at the same time. As always in Utah, these girls were fired up and created outstanding prosthetic hands, coin flippers and light-up yo-yos (my new favorite project).
After two days back at home, I left again for Virginia to speak at a school counselor event at NASA Langley. I facilitated four round table discussions to get these counselors up to speed about all that you can do with an engineering degree. I gave them charts, quick references, resource lists and a book to make sure they have the tools to advise students about engineering.
From there I attended the Virginia Children’s Engineering Conference and gave the keynote to almost 500 teachers that are actively engaged in teaching engineering in elementary school. There were workshops galore and these teachers had the opportunity to spend two days fully immersed in everything engineering. In my humble opinion, a conference like this should be held in every state.
My hat is off to everyone that is working to hold events and inspire the greatness that exists within every student.
Source: American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME.org)
When researching for the fourth edition of Is There an Engineer Inside You?, I came across this graphic from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). It’s a very informative snapshot of the varied paths to get to a career in engineering. The only differences I uncovered in my research is that you can go from an A.A.S. in Engineering Technology into a B.S. Engineering program – it’s just more difficult. I know because that is what I did. I got an A.A.S. in Electronic Engineering Technology and then transferred into a Biomedical Engineering Program. I had to retake several science classes because they weren’t calculus based but I found that retaking those classes improved my math skills and made the rest of my degree easier because I had such a strong foundation. I don’t advocate this route but there are certainly advantages to it too.
Another difference I uncovered is that Engineering Technology now has a doctoral degree.
In a nutshell, girls leave the TEA with increased confidence in their engineering abilities, as well as seeing that they can be creative, innovative and smart about design. They are less likely to shy away from engineering classes because they have been exposed to it in a meaningful and less threatening way. They also will have more support at home if they choose that direction. The TEAS and all middle school engineering projects are usually an introduction to get the girls confident enough to take this route in high school. It integrates all of STEM.
Shortly after I get home, I leave again for the East Coast. I’m providing a session at a middle school counselor conference hosted by NASA Langley and for a finale, I’m the keynote speaker at the Virginia Children’s Engineering Conference (VCEC). I’m very excited about this event! The VCEC participants will experience technology-based activities that contribute to the development of technological awareness. Workshop highlights will focus on experiences that enable children to:
explore how people create use, and control technology
apply knowledge in mathematics, science, English, and History and Social Studies in solving problems associated with technology
use tools and materials to explore personal interest with technology
exhibit self-confidence through the use of technology
Big news today! My very first book, Is There an Engineer Inside You? is being released in an updated and completely revised fourth edition. It now includes engineering technology and covers 38 different types of engineering and engineering technology, college options, how to succeed in engineering school, women and minorities in engineering, wow careers in engineering, how much money engineers make and much more.
I wrote the first edition when I was in engineering school. It was the book I wished I’d had when making the decision to go to school. I wrote it because I wanted my fellow students to know what they were getting into and have a clear idea about all the amazing pathways that engineers could follow.
Some new features of this book include helping students choose between engineering and engineering technology; more information about college choices, engineering curricula, and articulation agreements; additional approaches such as Engineers Without Borders, engineers in business and engineers in politics; and seven new discipline specific sections on engineering technology.
To celebrate the occasion I have several opportunities to entice you:
For every educator that orders this new edition before the publication date (March 5, 2013), you will also receive a PowerPoint presentation that you can use in class to explain the differences between engineering and engineering technology. It’s colorful, engaging, and designed to save you time.
Did you know that you can customize this book? You can add your logo to the cover and title page at no additional cost (minimum order is 100 books). More information
Looking for a conference presenter or workshop facilitator? I can provide a free presentation or workshop at your conference, meeting, or event for every group or organization that orders at least 160 of these books. If you are interested, contact me right away to reserve your date – my calendar fills quickly! More information
I received many comments via email to my Engineering Technology post last week. I appreciate the feedback because the lines of separation between bachelor’s level engineering and engineering technology positions in industry are blurring as the fields and responsibilities overlap more today than at any other time in history. It’s difficult to clearly define the two because both engineers and technologists can do design, they both solve problems and are involved in many of the same types of projects.
I’m going to try to define it clearly.
Engineering Technology is a field that focuses on the application of established science, math, engineering and technology principles. A technologist is an expert at applying engineering principles and technology to solve problems and connect the theory to all aspects of the problem. An engineering technologist looks at the big picture and practical application of a problem. Both engineers and engineering technologists may design a product to solve a problem, but the engineer would be the one to discover new technology (like microwaves) or develop any new engineering principles and practices. The technologist would normally be the one to develop a product that uses the new technology (like a microwave oven) as well as adapting, building, installing and maintaining a new product or process. An engineer may design a product to solve a problem, but the technologist may develop the process to create that product quickly, inexpensively, and with high quality. Therefore, the technologist may be responsible for solving the problems that may occur in implementation.
FYI – This is all covered in the upcoming fourth edition of Is There an Engineer Inside You?: A Comprehensive Guide to Career Decisions in Engineering (my former secret project) that will be released in March.
While working on a secret project (this is supposed to be a surprise), I talked with several instructors, professors, and deans in engineering technology departments all over the country. I was confused between the 4-year and 2-year engineering technology degrees. I thought they were both about the same (they are both called engineering technology) but the 4-year degree made more money.
My eyes have been opened! After numerous conversations, I’m left wondering why the bachelor’s degree in engineering technology isn’t more aggressively marketed. If more students really understood this degree, they would be clamoring to begin this field of study. It provides an excellent balance between theory and practice. Although it is application based and not so theoretical as an engineering degree, it is not like a vocational hands-on degree either. The education is not as calculus intensive and there is time in the curriculum for students to take a class or two in business, art, or technical writing. Bachelor’s level technologists are usually hired as engineers (with job titles and responsibilities similar to engineers) and are also eligible to get their Professional Engineer (PE) license.
There is more to come on this subject in future posts.
With the new year upon us, it’s always good to let students know what’s ahead and help them understand how their choices may impact their life. If you have students thinking about going to engineering school, this list of pros and cons can help you better describe the road ahead.
Advantages of an engineering degree include:
Engineers often escalate to management positions and earn excellent money over the life of their careers
If a career in research is interesting, an engineering degree can pave the way to further study
Great salary right out of school
An engineering education can open many doors – with additional education, engineers can also become doctors, lawyers, writers, teachers, and business people
An understanding of high level math gives a greater understanding of the world around you, and application of this to real problems can be very satisfying
Abundant job opportunities worldwide
Disadvantages of an engineering degree include:
The work can be stressful – especially when the equipment or structure has the potential to impact human life.
More time in school than an associate’s degree (higher cost for college)
Workload can be unpredictable and at times very high
Competitive atmosphere for promotion (performance as perceived by superiors determines one’s ability to be promoted)
Fewer practical skills upon graduation. Often, engineering students have very little opportunity to take business, manufacturing, art, or writing courses
Very rigorous and abstract mathematics is required
If we want engineering to be more broadly accepted by mainstream society and the media, we need to define what an engineer looks like. The field of engineering has become larger and more encompassing over time.
Engineers come in all forms. There are currently 2.3 million engineers, engaged in everything from design to sales to testing, manufacturing, training, and marketing. You can find engineers working in the field, behind a desk, in a production plant, at a customer site, or even on an airplane. Engineers design, manufacture, build, research, write, investigate and present their findings. It’s easy to think of engineers designing rides at Disney or crawling around inside of a bridge to check for stress cracks – we know what that looks like but what about the engineers who don’t design our modern conveniences and structures? How do we show an appealing image of an engineer who is checking air quality or researching new and safer ways to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs? How do we show students the image of an engineer who is trying to find ways to save animals on the brink of extinction? How do we show an engineer who is working on developing safer foods, less hazardous farming techniques or ways to cut down on crime? That’s a lot of job descriptions and categories to narrow into one icon that defines an engineer.
If Hollywood can make CSI shows look good to students (forensic scientists often study dead people for clues), we can definitely find a way to make engineering look more appealing too. And it starts with an icon or symbol that we can associate with an engineer.
Engineering education is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Just as engineers find solutions to particular situations and problems, the strategies you adopt to recruit, retain, and attract underrepresented populations will have to be custom tailored or engineered to fit your particular situation – and there are many viable approaches. In addition, between engineering and engineering technology, there are over 100 degree programs available and countless specialties within the degrees.
Fortunately, a revolution to prioritize engineering education has earnestly begun and fewer than 15 percent of students don’t see engineering as boring or nerdy (Changing the Conversation, 2008). It’s a great time to integrate more engineering challenges into curriculum, lesson plans and after school activities. A strong advantage to doing engineering activities is that students see connections to the world around them at the same time they develop problem solving skills that they can use in school and throughout their life.
Life itself is an endless process of solving problems. When we use the engineering design process, students learn that engineering design, like life itself, is an endless process of solving problems. In dealing with life’s many challenges, successful adults take the same steps as the ones that students utilize in their engineering design experiences such as identifying or stating the problem, brainstorming possible solutions and then developing or building prototypes (trying it out).
According to Cary Sneider, a leading science educator and one of the writers of the Next Generation Science Standards, understanding engineering is essential for all citizens, workers, and consumers in a modern democracy. If the U.S. is to continue to play a significant role in the world economy, it is imperative that students be exposed to engineering design and problem solving thought processes. He goes on to say that the capability to formulate and solve problems is a valuable life skill. By including engineering design in classrooms across the country, students will have access to a wider range of viable careers because they will be prepared to take the appropriate courses in high school. Exposure to engineering design is also an important aspect of equity for girls and minority students.
So get your design on and let’s promote problem solving!