The Prize Inside

As I promised you last week, upon revealing my newly formatted super-duper blog, you would also have the chance to win a fabulous prize. So here we are. You are officially immersed in the new format. You can post comments, read past posts by content area and share the posts on Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, Twitter, and by email. If you like to comment on posts, you can signup to receive an RSS feed of all the comments that people make and basically, your reading pleasure should be enhanced. I hope you like it but as always, my door is open to constructive criticism. If you see ways that I can improve it or if something isn’t working right, just let me know so I can re-engineer it.

The Prize Inside

Not only can you win a prize but I’ve also included a prize inside this blog! If you click on the “Engineering Careers” link at the top of the page, you will be able to read about many of the different engineering disciplines. Bookmark pages that you like and tell your friends, students and colleagues. Over time, new disciplines and pictures will be added but we are off to a great start!

If you love books, you will really love the prize this week. My newest book, The Green Engineer: Engineering Careers to Save the Earth will be released in the beginning of May. The book is written for high school students and should be an excellent addition to any library, school or personal collection. In the publishing world, publishers distribute galley copies of each new book to sneezers (people that will tell everyone else about it and spread the information like a virus) and also to media that will review it. A galley copy is basically a rare and highly esteemed advance reading copy.

I’m offering three signed galley copies of The Green Engineer to three people that post three comments somewhere in this blogosphere. Each comment must be a minimum of five words. The winners will be chosen at random next week. If you win, you will be able to read this new book 4-6 weeks before anyone else can even hold it in their hands. If I get really famous one day, these signed galley copies could be worth a lot of money. You never know. Good luck!

Happy reading and have a great week!

Presentations for Educators

I provide presentations and workshops at no cost (only the cost of travel) if you purchase my books and/or DVDs for your participants from the Engineering Education Service Center.

Below are a few of the presentations and workshop that I can provide. This list is not complete but designed to give you an idea of what I can do for you. Continue reading

Life is Engineering Educational Poster Series

Life is Engineering PostersA friend and I sat down one day and began a long discussion about youth, ethnic and gender cultures. I was looking for more ways to reach underserved populations and she, being an art professor, was working on a gallery show about why girls are drawn to ballet.

On the surface, it appeared that our projects were worlds apart from each other. As we dug deeper and traded ideas, I soon learned and embraced the idea that engineering can learn from art and art can learn from engineering. Each has the ability to enhance the other.

After many discussions, the bells finally began to go off in my head. If we want to inspire underserved populations, we need to use references that they admire, understand and enjoy. In other words, we need to understand their culture and transform our behavior instead of requiring them to bend to us and our way of doing things.

This seems so obvious – why don’t we do it more?

Check out our new educational poster series…

The Best 10 Things Parents Can Do to Promote Engineering

  1. Keep the Faith – Your child can do it! – Remember that math and science grades are not always good indicators of success in engineering school. My son claims that math is his favorite subject. However, he only has a C in the class because he forgets to turn in his homework. Grades in his case are a poor indicator of his ability and potential.
  2. Don’t pass on bad math attitudes – Engineering is not all math. It’s just one of the tools in the engineer’s box. Show your child that math and science are fun by making real world connections. My daughter became very skilled at math because when we went shopping for clothes and the sale price was 20 percent off, she knew she wouldn’t get that beautiful jacket unless she could tell me the correct price.
  3. Help your child explore careers – I talked to an engineer who told me he loved to fish as a kid. Every chance he got he was out fishing. Wouldn’t it be great if your child found the perfect job within his or her favorite hobby? The guy in the fishing story is now the head fishing reel engineer for Pure Fishing, Inc. There are countless stories about engineers finding their dream jobs through their hobbies.
  4. Enroll your son or daughter in an engineering camp this summer – Camps are a great way to expose your son or daughter to engineering. See a listing of summer camps here.
  5. Promote after-school activities – After-school programs in robotics or math are available at many locations. The best place to search for a quality after-school program is your child’s school. To find more programs you can also explore this list of engineering related competitions.
  6. Provide subtle communication – If your kids are typical teenagers, sometimes it’s very hard to talk to them about career opportunities. If I ask my children to look at a book or catalog, they find a million reasons to ignore my request. A successful strategy in my house is to very quietly leave college catalogs or career books lying around the house. Make sure they are visible but not too obvious. After a few days or weeks, you may notice that the book or catalog has been moved.
  7. Supply direct communication – Many students form their attitudes about careers as a result of their interactions with family members. This can be used to your advantage by inviting to dinner any engineers or people in the field of technology. Encouraging that person to talk about his of her career – how he or she got into it and why it’s satisfying. This can be a natural springboard for your child’s questions and exploration.
  8. Take educational vacations – When you travel around the country or even in your local area, there are many sights that will help your family learn about engineering. Places such as Hoover Dam, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Thomas Edison’s Birthplace, Museums of Ceramics or Aeronautics, roller coasters, etc. can all be educational and fun too. For sights in your area or to help you plan a road-trip, visit www.discovere.org/our-activities.
  9. Visit the websites of engineering colleges – Sit down with your child and check out the websites for your local colleges of engineering. Find out what is going on in your local area and look for ways to be involved. Make notes of what each school offers and especially about what seems exciting to your child. Make sure they know how to look for important information such as scholarships and entrance requirements. You can never do this too soon.
  10. Find a mentor – Mentoring is successful because it’s a one-on-one learning experience that can be so much more than a technical learning experience. Mentors can help students learn approaches into competitive industries, help them network, introduce them to key players, teach them how to listen, and help them evaluate solutions to problems. Mentoring is a part of being successful in any industry but especially for careers that are competitive. MentorNet is good place to begin searching for a mentor if you don’t know anyone locally.

Mother Daughter TEA Events

Last week, I received four calls about how to hold a Mother Daughter TEA (Technology Engineering Aptitude). This event has been so popular! If I were in your shoes, I’d be trying to find out more information too. I know I have said this before but I can’t say it enough — this event is one of the best I’ve ever seen at getting middle school girls interested in engineering and technical careers. If you aren’t holding one in your community, your girls are missing out on an extraordinary opportunity. I would have jumped at the chance to do this workshop with my Mom when I was growing up.

In short, there are two ways to hold this event:

  1. You can apply to have me come out to facilitate the workshop or
  2. You can come to one of our upcoming trainings and become a certified TEA trainer. Being a certified trainer enables you to use our materials, resources and marketing connections to host an unlimited number of TEAs in your community.

If you are thinking of having a TEA, you need to get started planning right away! The best events are usually planned at least 60-90 days ahead of time. Email me if you would like a copy of our Concept, Overview and Guidelines for a Safe and Successful Event publication. It can help you get prepared.

If you are planning to attend a training, register right away to reserve your spot.

Making a Better World

On a conference call last week, one of the women on the other end of the line said that she believes promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is about making a better world.

I couldn’t agree more. That statement gets to the very core of why I founded the Engineering Education Service Center and also fuels my never-ending quest to find more ways to reach students.

In the section, Generation Y – The Millennial Generation, from Generational Learning Styles by Julie Coates, she states that Generation Y’s preferred learning environment combines teamwork and technology. She goes on to say that this generation is made up of “confident, optimistic young people that feel valued and wanted”. They are the most diverse generation in history, both ethnically and socially, and they have closer relationships with their parents.

To me, this was music to my ears because it also means that there has never been a better time in the history of this country to promote engineering.

These students will thrive in hands-on and project based learning environments. They will appreciate having projects to take home to show their parents and also enjoy doing projects that promote social consciousness. We have all heard that a great way to promote engineering to girls is to make them see how they can make a difference in the world. According to the author, the socially conscious approach also works with boys – it just may take the boys longer to see the value.

If we, as educators, mentors, friends, parents and advocates want to make a better world by promoting STEM education, the time is now.

I’m a Nifty Fifty!

I’m pleased to announce that I am one of the Nifty Fifty! The USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF www.usasciencefestival.com) is the largest celebration of science and engineering in the US and the Nifty Fifty (times 2) are the one hundred most inspiring science/engineering professionals who will help re-invigorate the interest of our young people, by going into a Greater D.C. School (including Maryland and Northern Virginia) to present to a local high school assembly in Spring 2012. Continue reading

Put your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Support what you believe in.

In the last month, I’ve seen two major chain department stores sending shameful and demeaning messages to young women.

Forever 21 was advertising a shirt with the caption, “Allergic to Algebra”.

JC Penny had a shirt with the caption, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

I thought we had moved out of the dark ages! If anyone has been wondering why it’s such an uphill battle to get and keep girls interested in engineering, computer and technology fields, you now have part of your answer.

Diane Matt, the Executive Director and CEO of the Women in Engineering Proactive Network (WEPAN), in a letter to Forever 21, put it succinctly. She said, “The message on your shirt is damaging to young women who are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Today only 18% of U.S. engineering students are women—compared to many other fields where women make up 50% or more of the students.

 

Our country needs diversity in science and engineering fields. Mathematics is a gateway to these careers and today young men and young women take advanced placement mathematics in equal numbers in the United States. “Allergic to Algebra” perpetuates an outmoded, incorrect stereotype that is damaging to women—your customers and our students.

 

I respectfully request expeditious removal and destruction of this item.”

To the best of my knowledge, because of letters like this and complaints from people all over the world, both shirts have been removed from inventory.

Remember that you have choices where you shop and you also have a voice. In this age of social networking, it’s easier than ever to let a big chain store know how you feel. If we ever hope to change this type of advertising and thinking, you have to do something when you see the wrong message. Write a letter, join in the conversation or movement on Facebook, don’t support companies that don’t care, and in the case of these shirts, talk to the girls in your life about the misguided message. The important thing is that you do something.

Engineer Your Life

A great site worth exploring is called Engineer Your Life – a guide to engineering careers for high school girls. Here, you can explore what life and work are like for engineers, see videos of inspiring engineers, and read descriptions of dream engineering jobs. According to EngineerYourLife.org, 10 great reasons you’ll love engineering are:

  1. Love your work and live your life too — Engineering is an exciting profession, but one of its greatest advantages is that it will leave you time for all the other things in your life that you love!
  2. Be creative — Engineering is a great outlet for the imagination and the perfect field for independent thinkers.
  3. Work with great people — Engineering takes teamwork, and you’ll work with all kinds of people inside and outside the field. Whether they’re designers or architects, doctors or entrepreneurs, you’ll be surrounded by smart, inspiring people.
  4. Solve problems, design things that matter — Come up with solutions no one else has thought of. Make your mark on the world.
  5. Never be bored — Creative problem solving will take you into uncharted territory, and the ideas of your colleagues will expose you to different ways of thinking. Be prepared to be fascinated and to have your talents stretched in ways you never expected.
  6. Make a big salary — Engineers not only earn lots of respect, but they’re highly paid. Even the starting salary for an entry-level job is impressive!
  7. Enjoy job flexibility — An engineering degree offers you lots of freedom in finding your dream job. It can be a launching pad for jobs in business, design, medicine, law, and government. To employers or graduate schools, an engineering degree reflects a well-educated individual who has been taught ways of analyzing and solving problems that can lead to success in all kinds of fields.
  8. Travel — Field work is a big part of engineering. You may end up designing a skyscraper in London or developing safe drinking-water systems in Asia. Or you may stay closer to home, working with a nearby high-tech company or a hospital.
  9. Make a Difference — Everywhere you look you’ll see examples of engineering having a positive effect on everyday life. Cars are safer, sound systems deliver better acoustics, medical tests are more accurate, and computers and cell phones are a lot more fun! You’ll be giving back to your community.
  10. Change the world — Imagine what life would be like without pollution controls to preserve the environment, life-saving medical equipment, or low-cost building materials for fighting global poverty. All this takes engineering. In very real and concrete ways, engineers save lives, prevent disease, reduce poverty, and protect our planet.

See it all at www.engineeryourlife.org.

Something for Everyone

There is something for everyone in engineering. It’s one of my favorite things about these degrees. If you want to spend your days inventing, you can do that. Problem-solving, designing, testing, sketching, writing, presenting or being plain resourceful, you can do that too. There are so many pathways within engineering and engineering technology, we often overlook the fact that so many people have also used engineering as a launching pad to become doctors, attorneys, CEOs, CFOs, financial analysts, astronauts, teachers and politicians.

The point is – when you get that engineering degree – you can write your own ticket to have the life that you want.

Engineering Attributes

Engineering is so much more than just being a brain. The stereotypes surrounding the engineering profession can sometimes be a turn-off for students. We need to emphasize that a well-rounded personality is a great attribute to becoming a highly valued and esteemed engineer. To solve the problems of increased population, accelerated global economy, made to order products and environments, health and health care delivery, security, public policy and the public understanding of engineering, the engineer of 2020 will need the following attributes (NAE, 2005):

  • Analytical skills
  • Practical ingenuity
  • Creativity
  • Communication & teamwork skills
  • Business & management skills
  • High ethical standards
  • Professionalism
  • Leadership, including bridging public policy and technology
  • Dynamism/agility/resilience/flexibility
  • Lifelong learning inclinations

A bachelor’s degree in engineering gives a broad knowledge base and leads to a multitude of opportunities. Engineers with a tendency towards right and left brain thinking who are comfortable assessing and taking risks are on the cutting edge in industry, research, consulting, management, teaching, sales, business, and government. Engineering can require a tremendous amount of time and effort, but as technology continues to develop, the need for engineers will increase too.

Celebrate Engineers Week

Engineers Week is right around the corner. This year, the dates are February 19-25. Eweek statistics show that last year, 40,000 engineers visited classrooms to educate students about the field of engineering. Eweek extrapolates that those engineers reached 5 million students! It’s not too late to get involved.

Below, I have provided suggestions for teachers, engineers and programs. From a marketing point of view, no matter who or where you are, this is your time to really educate, inspire, motivate and/or cajole interest in engineering. It’s a time to celebrate the profession and the amazing advances and achievements of the field. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get people to help you in this mission. Continue reading

50 Reasons to Become an Engineer

  1. 48 countries (2.8 billion people) could face fresh water shortages by 2025.
  2. Population in developed countries will age and engineers can help develop assistive technologies so aging people can maintain healthy, productive lifestyles.
  3. To improve the quality of the air we breathe.
  4. To improve the quality of the water we drink.
  5. To improve the quality of the food we eat.
  6. To save the rainforests.
  7. To save rare or exotic animals from extinction.
  8. To improve battery technology for electric cars.
  9. To conserve our natural resources by improving recycling systems and methods.
  10. To educate a potential President of the United States.
  11. To help the energy crisis by finding new ways to produce or store solar, wind, wave, geothermal and other sources of alternative energy.
  12. To find ways to make nuclear waste non-toxic.
  13. To develop safe nuclear energy.
  14. To help find a cure for AIDS.
  15. To help develop new medicines for numerous diseases.
  16. To invent smaller, more affordable computers.
  17. To make better theme parks and safer roller coasters.
  18. To keep up with the technology needs of society.
  19. So the U.S. won’t lose its power to other countries.
  20. To educate the next generation.
  21. To reverse engineer the brain.
  22. To counter the violence of terrorists.
  23. To improve methods of instruction and learning.
  24. To create better virtual reality systems.
  25. To capture carbon dioxide.
  26. To sustain the infrastructure of cities and living spaces.
  27. To explore other galaxies.
  28. To understand more about our planet.
  29. To reduce our vulnerability to assaults in cyberspace.
  30. To prevent devastation from hurricanes and other natural disasters.
  31. To improve transportation on land, sea and air.
  32. To improve our connectivity and ability to communicate with family and friends.
  33. To help us save money on everything.
  34. To keep us safe at home and in other countries.
  35. To lessen our vulnerability to disease.
  36. To keep our oceans clean.
  37. To explore the depths of the ocean.
  38. To help our pets live longer.
  39. To aid veterinarians in caring for animals.
  40. To minimize our footprint on the Earth.
  41. To prevent car accidents with better traffic infrastructure.
  42. To create green buildings that can power themselves.
  43. To understand the oceans and their ability to help us.
  44. To reduce the impact of war.
  45. To lessen the need for war.
  46. To enhance the beauty of our surroundings.
  47. To have better furniture and computer peripherals that reduce our risk of carpal tunnel or back pain.
  48. To save the polar bears and other endangered species.
  49. To get more people where they need to go quickly, safely and conveniently.
  50. To decrease the incidence of disease and famine.

Transportation Engineering

Starting salary (for Civil Engineers): $51,793, Median Income (for Civil Engineers): $77,560

Transportation engineering is a branch of civil engineering whose goal is to allow people and goods to move safely, rapidly, conveniently, and efficiently. Transportation engineers design streets, highways, and public transportation systems. They design parking lots and traffic flow patterns that will prevent major congestion at busy intersections, shopping malls, and sporting events. They are involved in planning and designing airports, railroads, and busy pedestrian thoroughfares. Continue reading

Telecommunications Engineering

Starting salary (for Electrical Engineering): $57,600, Median Income (for Electrical Engineering): $84,540

Telecommunications is a specialization within electrical engineering that is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. Cellular telephones, palm-pilots, videophones, and wireless communication are everywhere. Satellite signals, microwaves, and fiber-optic trunks are all part of the specialized telecommunications industry. Continue reading

Systems Engineering

Starting salary: $57,438, Median Income (for Industrial Engineering): $76,100

According to the systems engineering department at George Mason University, “Systems Engineering is the ‘people-oriented engineering profession.’ Systems Engineers determine the most effective ways for an organization to use all of a given system’s components – people, machines, materials, information, and energy. Systems engineers plan, design, implement and manage complex systems that assure performance, safety, reliability, maintainability at reasonable cost and delivered on time.” Continue reading

Structural Engineering

Starting salary (for Civil Engineering): $51,793, Median Income (for Civil Engineering): $77,560

A career in structural engineering offers numerous and diverse opportunities. Structural engineering focuses not only on the design and development of structures such as houses, coliseums, bridges, and shopping malls but on the design and development of materials that will create these structures. The structural engineering profession offers exciting challenges and potential for growth. Each day brings new and more sophisticated materials that will change the shape and the future of structures. Continue reading

Software Engineering

Starting salary (for Computer Engineering): $56,201, Median Income (for Computer Engineering): $98,810

Software engineering is on the cutting edge of technology. As the world becomes more computerized, software engineering, a very progressive field, is in high in demand. Software enables us to use computers. It is the translator between humans and computers. Without software, a computer would be nothing but ones and zeros. Continue reading

Robotic Engineering

Starting salary (for Manufacturing Engineering): $ 58,581, Median Income (for Mechanical Engineering): $ 78,160

Robotic engineering is an exciting field with a wide range of newly developing applications. Because of technological leaps in the computer industry, many new opportunities will emerge for robotic engineers. Robotic engineers design and maintain robots, and research new applications for robots. Robots have enormous potential for society. Equipped with the proper sensors, robots can inspect the quality of meat, measure the pollution emissions of manufacturing plants, assist in surgery, detect corrosion in sewer pipes, investigate the depths of a volcano, or assess the speed of a tornado. Robots can improve our standard of living and give us more information about our planet or even the solar system. Such advances can open new doors for space or sea exploration. Continue reading

Plastics Engineering

Starting Salary (for Materials Engineering): $ 62,000, Median Income (for Materials Engineering): $83,120

A growing branch of materials engineering that often goes unnoticed is plastics engineering. More than 1.3 million people are employed designing, manufacturing, and producing plastic. The plastics industry is the fourth largest manufacturing industry in the nation. Plastics have enhanced nearly every aspect of our lives. The safety features in our cars, medicine bottles, the insulation of electrical wires – none of these would be possible without plastics. Continue reading