This blog today is about never letting others hold you down or convince you to give up the dream.
In 1998, my last year in engineering school, I wrote a book about going to engineering school and choosing a discipline to study (mechanical, electrical, civil, etc.) Because no one would publish it, I formed a publishing company and did it myself. I had no idea what I was doing but simply believed with all my heart and soul that anyone who wanted to go to college for engineering needed my book. About six months after publishing the book, the phone rang and to my great surprise, the caller ID said NASA. I tentatively answered the phone thinking they must have the wrong number, but no – they asked for me. They told me they loved my book and wanted to give it to everyone. From that moment on, all I had to do was figure out how to ramp up and hang on because I had lift-off. The book quickly became the #1 engineering career guide at Amazon and book publishers were now coming to me.
During that time, I received rejection notices from publishers, the Dean of the college refused to write a foreword and other students seemed less than interested. But, I knew there was nothing like it and that it would’ve been the perfect reference when I was making the decision to study engineering. With only a gut feeling, I sent it out into the world.
Eighteen years later, it is in its fifth edition and now covers 45 types of engineering and engineering technology. About 80,000 copies are in print and Chinese and Asian (India) editions were published last year. It is a testament to believing in yourself and your power to see and contribute to a better future. You may never know who, exactly, you are helping but I guarantee you will sleep well at night if you follow your heart and promote (do!) something good.
Big news today! At long last, Passport to Engineering is here!
Passport to Engineering will help students understand engineering and engineering technology in a whole new way.
In Passport to Engineering, students will watch a short video on a specific discipline, take a short test and when they pass the test, they’ll receive a stamp in their passport. Get all 33 stamps and they’ll receive a certificate of travel proving that they’ve been to all of the engineering and engineering technology destinations.
Passport to Engineering includes:
Flights to 27 engineering and 6 engineering technology destinations. Includes:
a 2-4 minute video
career handout with career description, salary information, job outlook, industries with the highest levels of employment, and the top paying industries
a list of ABET programs/schools for that discipline
a review quiz (4 questions)
Passport Stamp upon successful completion of review
discipline specific puzzles and games.
Flights based on what you like to do – this option offers career track suggestions.
A personality test to gauge if engineering is a good fit.
An academic challenge to gauge your academic readiness.
Engineering career books for further investigation.
Engineering videos (Engineers Can Do Anything, Women in Engineering and The Road Ahead).
Online Access – This option allows you to get going right away. Purchase courses individually or as a package. Covers 33 different types of engineering and engineering technology. Two free courses can get you started quickly.
The reasons that we hold events, competitions or camps may often seem so obvious – we want to recruit into our programs or schools or lead students toward their untapped potential (a.k.a. – a better future). I read that robotics has become so popular because it’s an integrated and engaging approach to all things STEM plus teamwork, problem solving, collaboration, and innovation.
It’s difficult to measure your program’s success with middle school students because they are so far from college. Without diligent tracking, you may never know if your program influenced them to pursue a STEM education.
The softer reasons that we hold events are also because we want to tell students that we believe in them or that we believe they can do it. It’s great for their self-esteem to know that they have a champion on their side. When you believe in yourself and your abilities, what is there to stop you from doing exactly what you want with your life and making the perfect career for yourself?
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.
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.
Put your state in the search engine to find local events in your area.
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.
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.
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!
For us engineering education advocates, when we want to inspire students, the problem isn’t about finding information on engineering careers, locating hands-on activities, or helping students decide which college to attend. It’s more about figuring out:
What is appealing to students (what drives this generation);
How to present the information;
Getting that tailored information to them (books, DVDs, hands-on projects, posters, websites, etc.);
Answering their questions (Will I like engineering? How hard will I have to work?, Is it worth the hard work?, etc.).
To refresh your memory, The National Academy of Engineering conducted a major study a few years ago to address the messages we portray to pre-college students about engineering. Changing the Conversation, the result of the study, states that young people want jobs that make a difference. Additional recommendations from the research study are as follows:
Stop reinforcing the images of “nerdy and boring”
Stop focusing on math and science as the needed inputs and instead focus on the outputs, career opportunities, and making a difference in the world
Use the word “create” not “build”
Use images of people, not things: especially avoid using gears and mechanical looking things
Use the following five words in describing engineering: discovery, design, imagination, innovation, contribution
Describe engineer as creative problem solvers, essential to health, happiness and safety
Emphasize that engineers shape the future
Have you been using the recommendations? With Engineers Week on the horizon, right now is the perfect time to figure out when and how to jump on the bandwagon.
Now that the holidays are behind us, the next big celebration on my calendar is Engineers Week (eweek). Because I run a center that is based on promoting engineering, this is a big deal. In fact, it’s such a big deal that I talk about it all year. If I facilitate a training, those teachers hear about it. If I talk to engineers about mentoring, they also hear about it. I blog about it and sometimes throw eweek parties. The reason I get so excited about Engineers Week is because I get the chance to celebrate the profession with thousands of like-minded people all over the world.
If you want to decorate the halls, check out our posters. The majority were designed by students and I promise you will find many that you like. http://www.stemposters.com