An Engineer Must Engineer

I’ve been running the EESC in Oregon for 13 years. But the company arose from ashes in Louisiana four years before it officially opened. So yes, for 17 years, I’ve been promoting an engineering education as loudly and as often as possible.

But no matter how much we, as professionals, enjoy what we do, everyone needs to recharge. Professors take sabbaticals, most of the world takes vacations and entrepreneurs start new businesses. I’m taking a step back from the EESC right now with the hopes of taking two steps forward in the future. I’m looking for inspiration that I can bring back to the company.

In life, I crave color combined with precision and beauty. I like beautiful machines, gadgets or devices that move or surprise. That’s probably what drew me to engineering in the first place. Thinking back, my first interest in engineering, (even before The Six Million Dollar Man – my biomedical inspiration) was to become a watchmaker. The consistent rhythm of a clock or watch was comforting.

electroplating2Two weeks ago, I opened Celeste Watch Company. The goal was to make artistic timepieces that are precise and elegant. To infuse more color and technological design in a wrist watch. I wanted to make wearable art using mixed materials on the dial or face of the watch that you don’t normally see.

The learning curve has been enormous – more so that I ever thought possible (but that’s what I wanted.) However, there is a peace that comes over me during the process. Something that happens during design, fabrication and assembly that makes me feel like I’m in a groove, doing what I’m supposed to be doing at exactly the right time. I handcraft the dial with my laser cutter, electroplate vibrant colors in the cases and background of the faces, and sew the leather bands by hand. I smile every time I make one.

But never fear, the EESC isn’t going anywhere. In fact, you can expect to see more “time” related activities in the future – starting with “Pacing a Pendulum” in The Big Book of Engineering Challenges. And how about a kinetic sculpture kit? If it’s based on time, you will probably see it here very soon.

Five Things Teachers Can Do Right Now

I’ve received many emails lately about Engineers Week and what it’s all about. To briefly summarize, Engineers Week (Eweek) is always during the president’s birthday week. So this year, it’s Feb. 16-22. 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! There are only 20 days until Eweek and it’s not too late to get involved.

Below, I have provided suggestions for teachers to use Eweek as a special 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.

Five things that teachers can do right now.

  1. The first thing I would recommend to get an engineer to come to your classroom is to open the phone book and call a local firm that has a yellow page ad. Explain that you are a teacher and would like an engineer to talk to your kids for Engineers Week. You can give them the link to Eweek (www.discovere.org). Most firms benefit from the exposure so you might be surprised at the results. If they seem resistant, just try another.
  2. Put your state in the search engine to find local events in your area.
  3. There is a good chance that in a classroom of 30 students, at least one or two will have parents that are engineers. You may be able to get the parent engineers to talk to your class.
  4. Call your local college of engineering and see if you can arrange a tour or see if they are doing anything special to celebrate the week. Don’t forget about junior colleges and vocational schools! They are also great resources.
  5. Contact your local engineering society to find out what they are doing. For example, the IEEE, ASME, ASCE, NSPE and many others have state branches that are independently run by engineers in your state. This may be an excellent opportunity to make a lasting connection. Just put (ieee.org) or (asme.org) or (asce.org) or (nspe.org) into your browser and search for local or state chapters of the organization. When you find your state contact, write to the president asking for help.

What are you doing for Eweek? Questions, suggestions? Post them here!