Customized Engineering Career Books

ITAEIY4_300x450This Fall, you can get copies of Is There an Engineer Inside You?, the leading book on engineering and engineering technology career information, with your logo on the front and back covers for up to 70% off the retail price and support a good cause at the same time.

We only offer this discount in August to take advantage of volume pricing.

If you have you been trying to introduce more students to engineering or trying to recruit more students into your program, this is a great opportunity for you to save time and money.

The fourth year of the 100,000 Book Give-Away Program is on the horizon. The goal of the program is to give away 100,000 books to students, teachers, and school counselors over a five year period.

Advantages of being an outreach partner:

  • Each partner will receive 300+ books with their logo on the front and back covers.
  • Each partner will receive a customized pdf copy for their website.
  • Books are only $7.35 each! That’s over 70% off! There is no other cost saving opportunity like this and it’s only offered once a year.
  • Each partner’s website will be included on the cover page of the website edition and in the acknowledgements of the print edition.
  • After the initial printing, partners can purchase additional books (no logo) for only $5 each.
  • Piggyback on a National Media Campaign and gain greater exposure for your program(s).

This year, as part of the Book Give-Away Program, a 5th Edition will be released! Right now, the book covers 41 types of engineering. The 5th edition will cover 45 types and also include expanded sections on women and minorities in engineering.

By partnering with Universities and organizations who want to promote engineering careers and motivate students to pursue engineering, to date, we have given away close to 50,000 copies! Books have been donated to schools, libraries, guidance counselors and teachers; distributed at engineering competitions, events, conferences and workshops; and are available as downloads from some partner websites.

Is There an Engineer Inside You? can reinforce your message by building on the information you share about what engineers, technologists and technicians do, helping explain the differences between engineering and engineering technology, and showing that engineering and engineering technology are degree paths that can lead to fulfilling careers.

For the first time, you can also now order smaller quantities of Is There an Engineer Inside You? with your logo on the front and backs covers at a discount by joining in the printing in August.

Early Bird Bonus – This renewal offer is coming early to help me manage the program. With 300+ requests for free books last year, I was overwhelmed. To give you an incentive to help, if you renew or join by June 5, you will receive an extra 10 books at no additional cost!

We only have two years left and 50,000 books to go! Become a partner today and by working together, we can ensure that every K-12 student has this valuable resource with your branding front and center. It’s a win-win.

More Information

Big Book Winners!

BigBookCoverLast week, you had the opportunity to win a free copy of The Big Book of Engineering Challenges by sharing a strategy on my Facebook contest thread that you use to get students interested in learning more about engineering or STEM careers.

And the winners are…

Not many people entered so I’m giving a book away to everyone who posted something!

A big **Thank You!** to those who participated.

Below are the strategies posted by your peers:

  1. We’ve been doing engineering design challenges for many years as part of our NIU STEM Outreach programs. One strategy that we use is to embed the challenge within a narrative that students can relate to. In short, storytelling where they determine the outcome by their ingenuity.
  2. SAME hosts engineering camps through the academies for high school students. Lets them have a chance for hands-on experience & also to network with kids their age from across the country & different backgrounds so they learn why others have an interest in engineering.
  3. Sometimes making it known that scholarships are available helps those who are worried about the cost of an engineering education.
  4. Getting kids, particularly a small group, together working a project that relates closely with another area of interest to them (designing/building a musical instrument, if interested in music, & then discussing how it could be put into wider production, can show how engineering ties into essentially everything we do.
  5. Provide information (such as from the Engineering Education Service Center) to school guidance counselors about engineering careers, particularly in areas underserved for STEM support.
  6. With the parents’ permission, of course, take the student to your workplace (&, if possible, project) to let them see what you do, how you do it, meet & talk with co-workers & then see the project in progress.
  7. Work with the student on a project that directly contributes to her community. Perhaps team with a local school & develop the project idea with their teachers, so some of the in-class experience can support the project too.
  8. I assign fun and relevant engineering challenges for my 7th grade science class every chance I get. Last one was to build an human arm while studying muscular and skeletal systems. We then watched videos and read articles about how engineers develop prosthetics. I believe feeling like an engineer makes engineering careers more approachable for middle schoolers.
  9. I like to teach new vocabulary or present a real world issue to my students then have them come up with ways to fix it. They’re currently trying to build water filters to clean polluted water. A few weeks ago we were learning about buoyancy and density. They designed boats, we sunk them then discussed why some sunk faster than others. They LOVE STEM!
  10. Teaming with another teacher in the school to help the kids develop an engineering solution to an issue in that other subject areas, such as some event in history — find a different way to solve it than what actually happened.
  11. Just to talk with students about engineering + why it’s important.

Lots of good suggestions here.

Win a Book!

BigBookCoverWin a free copy of The Big Book of Engineering Challenges by sharing a strategy on my Facebook contest thread that you use to get students interested in learning more about engineering or STEM careers. We are giving away five books. The winners will be chosen at random. You can enter once per day. Winners will be announced on Monday, November 16, 2015.

Note: For every 100 comments, I will give away an additional five books! Increase your chance of winning by inviting your friends and colleagues to participate!

Comment: https://www.facebook.com/engineeringcareers

Finding a Good Engineering Program

NJITOnce you decide to pursue an engineering or engineering technology education, preparation should begin as soon as possible. On the most basic level, college is designed to open doors. It teaches you how to think, solve ambiguous problems and use the tools of engineering such as design and simulation software – this gets you ready for employment.

There are several approaches to pursue an engineering or engineering technology career. You can attend a community or junior college, vocational school, technical college, state university or other public or private university. Programs range from one year or less for a certificate, two-three years for an associate’s degree and four-five years for a bachelor’s degree. Each path has its advantages and disadvantages. College classes are taught with the expectation that you are willing to do some research on your own and that you are motivated to do so.

Choosing the engineering or engineering technology school that is right for you is as important as wheels are to automobiles. Hundreds of schools offer engineering programs; some schools have engineering dorms, some offer engineering fraternities or sororities, some are inner-city and some are spread out over large distances. The advantages and disadvantages of each school will depend on your personal needs and wants. Important considerations for most college-bound students include location, cost, faculty, school size, and academics. To find a program in the United States, visit ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

Book Give-Away Distribution

ITAEIY4_300x450If you missed the opportunity to get a free copy of Is There an Engineer Inside You?, you’ll have to wait until next year – unless you are one of the lucky ones who attends an event sponsored by one of our book give-away partners.

We are currently in the second year of a five year program to freely distribute 100,000 books. Books have been shipped all over the world and are also available as a free download on many partner’s websites.

In the 2013-2014 school year, about 8000 books were distributed.

This year, the numbers are already better! I am forecasting that almost 16,000 books will be distributed and downloaded – a 100% increase! There are 17 partners working hard to promote engineering education and this effort will undoubtedly reach more students, teachers, counselors, and parents.

If you have a special program and wish to receive books next year, watch for my 100K Book Give-Away announcement this Spring and jump in with your request/application.

2014-2015 EESC Distribution

  1. Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (200 books)
  2. Global STEM Education Center (50 books)
  3. Nicholson STEM Academy (144 books)
  4. Reading High School (1 book)
  5. Everett Public Schools (2 books)
  6. Raisbeck Aviation High School (64 books)
  7. Rockingham Middle School (40 books)
  8. Bio-Med Academy (16 books)
  9. Penn Manor High School Engineering Club (100 books)
  10. Casa Verde High School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (30 books)
  11. Muscatine Community School District (40 books)
  12. Timberlane Regional High School (1 book)
  13. Hampton City Schools (18 books)
  14. Meadow Hill Middle School (15 books)
  15. Robbins AFB, GA (20 books)
  16. Union Public Schools (15 books)
  17. Affton High School – Future Strong STEM night (80 books)
  18. Assumption School (1 book)
  19. St. Cloud Area School District 742 (12 books)
  20. Syracuse University (40 books)
  21. Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering (6 books)
  22. Northampton Community College (10 books)
  23. Futureintech (20 books)
  24. Wichita State University, STEMpact2020 (40 books)

2014-2015 Book Give-Away Partners

My thanks and gratitude go to the Official National Partners that banded together to put this book in the hands of thousands of students. Each partner is giving away 300 books plus their websites are great places to visit and get a free download.

  1. Auburn University
  2. Boston Society of Civil Engineers
  3. Christian Brothers University
  4. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  5. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  6. Louisiana Tech University
  7. Missouri University of Science and Technology
  8. Northwestern State University
  9. Prefreshman Engineering Program, The University of Texas at San Antonio
  10. Purdue University
  11. Rowan University
  12. SeaPerch
  13. Society of Women Engineers, Tulsa Northeast Oklahoma Section
  14. Tulsa Public Schools
  15. University of Evansville
  16. University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  17. Weber State University

 

Famous Women Engineers

Every now and then, I like to take a step back and appreciate how far we’ve come in engineering and technology. Each time I do this I’m completely amazed that I can print things in plastic in my 3D printer, build robots that will follow my instructions and create my own rubber stamps in my laser cutter. I love the Maker and DIY cultures but also respect that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Without the discoveries of the past, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Below is a short list of famous women who have lead or are leading the way.

  • Heather Knight is a pioneer in the growing field of social robotics which investigates ways in which robots could have an impact on our everyday lives. With degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, she is known as a social roboticist and is constantly thinking about new ways to make robots charismatic, giving them the necessary personality and social skills to interact with humans in meaningful ways.
  • Dr. Catherine Mohr, a mechanical engineer, is developing the next generation of surgical robots and robotic procedures that allow patients to heal faster and better. She is pushing the boundaries of medicine with her research in robotic-assisted surgery.
  • Ada Byron Lovelace collaborated with Charles Babbage, the Englishman credited with inventing the forerunner of the modern computer. She wrote a scientific paper in 1843 that anticipated the development of computer software (including the term software), artificial intelligence, and computer music. The U.S. Department of Defense computer language Ada is named for her.
  • Amanda Theodosia Jones invented the vacuum method of food canning, completely changing the entire food processing industry.  Before the 1800’s, a woman could not get a patent in her own name. A patent was considered property and women could not own property in most states.  So, in a move typical of women inventors of the 19th century, Jones denied the idea came from her inventiveness, but rather from instructions received from her late brother from beyond the grave.
  • Dr. Angela Moran, a materials engineering scientist, conducts research to help assure that metals and other material that make up some the Navy’s most vital equipment (such as aircraft, sea vessels and weaponry) can withstand the stress and demands of their use.
  • Mary Engle Pennington revolutionized food delivery with her invention of an insulated train car cooled with ice beds, allowing the long-distance transportation of perishable food for the first time.
  • Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper in 1903. By 1916 they were standard equipment on all American cars.
  • Beulah Louise Henry was known as ‘the Lady Edison’ for the many inventions she patented in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Her inventions included a bobbinless lockstitch sewing machine, a doll with bendable arms, a vacuum ice cream freezer, a doll with a radio inside, and a typewriter that made multiple copies without carbon paper.  Henry founded manufacturing companies to produce her creations and made an enormous fortune in the process.
  • Hedy Lamarr, a 1940’s actress, invented a sophisticated and unique anti-jamming device for use against Nazi radar. While the U.S. War Department rejected her design, years after her patent had expired, Sylvania adapted the design for a device that today speeds satellite communications around the world. Lamarr received no money, recognition, or credit.
  • Grace Murray Hopper, a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, developed COBOL, one of the first high-level computer languages. Hopper is also the person who, upon discovering a moth that had jammed the works of an early computer, popularized the term “bug.” In 1991, Hopper became the first woman, as an individual, to receive the National Medal of Technology. One of the Navy’s destroyers, the U.S.S. Hopper, is named for her.
  • Stephanie Kwoleks discovered a polyamide solvent in 1966 that led to the production of “Kevlar,” the crucial component used in canoe hulls, auto bodies and, perhaps most importantly, bulletproof vests.
  • Ruth Handler was best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, also created the first prosthesis for mastectomy patients.
  • Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar helped to develop the ceramic tiles that enable the space shuttle to survive re-entry. In 1985, she had an opportunity to test those tiles first hand as an astronaut aboard the shuttle.

Comments?

Know Your Community

I read the article below at first nodding my head in agreement. After a few minutes, I came to realize that while the message may be true for some girls, it’s not true for all. Marketing engineering, technology and computer science careers to women is not a one size fits all prospect.

The article states that we use pink, curly fonts, and butterflies too much to bridge the gender divide. That we assume we need to turn technology into something girly to make it attractive.

How not to attract women to coding: Make tech pink – SFGate.

I personally can relate to this. I grew up in the SF Bay Area and was not attracted to pink media. I was much happier playing with my brother’s LEGO than Barbie and I wouldn’t have been attracted to pink LEGO either. I wanted to be taken seriously and knew that wouldn’t happen if my game wasn’t on the same field as all the boys on the block. As I grew older and gained confidence, I became much more attracted to color. Today, I prefer the teal, purple and tangerine LEGO blocks. Is that because I understand that I don’t have to be like the boys to make a valuable contribution? That different contributions are not less valuable?

From promoting engineering all over the country and facilitating over 80 Mother/Daughter TEA Workshops (engineering events for Mother and Daughters) I can say, without equivocation, that one size does not fit all. Some girls love fancy script and a girly atmosphere and some prefer a gender neutral environment. This also varies greatly by geography and community.

The best approach to reaching girls is to know your community and have a sense for what is interesting, what has worked in the past and what hasn’t been tried. If pink flyers with curly fonts work in your community, keep using them. If you find you aren’t getting enough girls to sign up for your program(s), change how you market. Just like engineering design, marketing is also an evolving process. What worked last year might not work this year. Test your messages, evaluate and redesign if necessary.

 

100K Book Give-Away Round 2

ITAEIY4_300x450Last year, I joined forces with nine amazing Universities and organizations who wanted to promote engineering careers and motivate students to pursue engineering. Together, we gave away close to 8,000 copies of Is There an Engineer Inside You?, the leading book on engineering careers. 6,000 copies of the book were distributed across the nation and another 2000 were downloaded from partner websites. Student competitions and events that received books were BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology), Seaperch, Ability One and the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Books were also donated to teachers and distributed at professional development workshops and conferences. Partners donated books to teachers, schools, guidance counselors and students in their local communities.

As we enter year two of the give-away, I hope to reach even more students and teachers by expanding the program and improving the book. Here’s how:

  1. Encouraging Partner Success – This year partners will be able to choose events in their community for book distribution. This can be a student or educator event. Up to 300 books can be requested. In addition, these books can have their logo on the front and/or back cover(s)! See samples.
  2. Expanding the Program – Last year, we gave away books to students at national student competitions. This year we will expand the recipients to educators and mentors who promote STEM and can disseminate the information to reach an even larger audience.  In addition to the books distributed in partner communities, I will also distribute to several key competitions and conferences.
  3. Improving the Book – I have written three new sections. Instead of covering 38 types of engineering and engineering technology, it now covers 41 types. New additions include: Industrial Engineering Technology, Fire Protection Engineering, and Fire Protection Engineering Technology.
  4. Each partner’s logo and website will be included on the cover page and in the acknowledgements.

The 100K Book Give-Away is an amazing program designed to help you easily expand your outreach, save money, save time, and provide a proven reference to students, parents, educators, counselors and mentors in your community. Deadline to become a partner is August 8, 2014.

More Information

Apply to receive books for your STEM event.

 

What’s Your Inspiration?

What started you on the path to engineering or your current career? Can you identify a moment, person or thing that made you change lanes, take a turn or stopped you in your tracks?

17 years old

17 years old

Last year, I gave a keynote in Kansas City for Science Pioneers. A few minutes into it, I talked about my first car – how much fun it was to try to fix it, the book that made it possible, the Flower Power mechanics and how I knew I wanted a cleaner and more diverse career. That car was a 1962 VW Bug and lead to one of the biggest ah-ha moments in my life.

From wanting it to drive better, I learned that I had mechanical aptitude, I could rebuild an engine if the instructions were good enough, troubleshooting was fun, and a book could change your life.

holdingbugLast week, to my delight, a small box that contained a shiny red VW Bug came in the mail. As I looked at it and took my trip down memory lane, I remembered how much that car inspired me. Without that experience, how would I have discovered my mechanical ability? Would I have this love affair with books? Would I be writing this today without that experience?

Thank you Paul for reminding me about how I got here and encouraging me to continue my own journey. We are all inspired to become who we are by something or someone. Make some time for yourself to remember, appreciate and share the experience. You never know who you may inspire with your story.

 

iPhone app for Engr and Engr Tech Careers

ITAEIYapplogoBrand new in iTunes is the app “Is There an Engineer Inside You?

This is a great resource for teachers, administrators, parents and students. It covers 40 different types of engineering and engineering technology degrees with videos, job descriptions, salary expectations, scholarships and a school locator.

It’ll help teachers, administrators and parents understand the differences between 40 types of engineering and the opportunities available.

It’ll help students figure out what kind of engineer they want to be.

So head over the the App Store and get your copy. It’ll be the best $2 you’ve spent in a while.

And, please Share far and wide!

Goodbye Posters

If you haven’t noticed yet, there are no posters in the EESC store any more.

stempostersbanner3 Today and all of May is the Grand Opening Celebration of STEMPosters.com.

I felt the poster contest we hold each year needed new energy and a broader scope. From that search, STEMPosters.com was born. The posters are now a fundraiser for the Circuit Chargers Robotics team at the Tulsa Engineering Academy at Memorial High School in Tulsa, OK. The Circuit Chargers are also known as FIRST Robotics Team 932. (FIRST = For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). The mission of STEMPosters.com is to provide quality graphics related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) that will inspire today’s youth to learn more about these interesting and lucrative subjects.

So please take a look, bookmark the site and visit often as robotics, science, technology, engineering and math posters are added over time.

Self-Confidence is Key

gleerhThe 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?

 

Outreach Communication

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:

  1. What is appealing to students (what drives this generation);
  2. How to present the information;
  3. Getting that tailored information to them (books, DVDs, hands-on projects, posters, websites, etc.);
  4. 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.

 

In Search of an Icon

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.

All ideas are welcome!

8th Annual Poster Contest

This year, when getting ready to launch the poster contest I decided to do some snooping around on Facebook to see if past high school poster contest winners were in engineering school now. To my delight, 4 of 5 that I searched for were definitely enrolled! It’s a small sample but still noteworthy.

So either:

  1. Researching engineering careers and producing a visual representation of that research stimulates an increased interest in the field. Contestants may learned things about engineering they didn’t know before.
  2. Students that win have been interested in engineering and that enables them to produce more thoughtful posters.
  3. Because many classes in numerous schools enter the contest as a class assignment, this may produce a collective consciousness about engineering that contains more information about possible careers than would be possible otherwise.

Whatever the case, I’m happy to see that this contest is making an impact!

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EESC’s 8th Annual Poster Contest Kickoff!

The EESC’s 2012 poster contest will include two themes. Contestants may enter one or both up to three times. Posters should be fun, motivational and inspire students to pursue a degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Category 1: “Grand Challenges for Engineering” – This theme is back for another round! Throughout human history, engineering has driven the advance of civilization. In the last century, engineering recorded its grandest accomplishments. The widespread development and distribution of electricity and clean water, automobiles and airplanes, radio and television, spacecraft and lasers, antibiotics and medical imaging, and computers and the Internet are just some of the highlights from a century in which engineering revolutionized and improved virtually every aspect of human life.

For all of these advances, though, the century ahead poses formidable challenges. As the population grows and its needs and desires expand, the problem of sustaining civilization’s continuing advancement, while still improving the quality of life, is more immediate. Old and new threats to personal and public health demand more effective and more readily available treatments. Vulnerabilities to pandemic diseases, terrorist violence, and natural disasters require serious searches for new methods of protection and prevention. And products and processes that enhance the joy of living remain a top priority of engineering innovation.

Applying the rules of reason, the findings of science, the aesthetics of art, and the spark of creative imagination, engineers will continue the tradition of forging a better future. For more information on the Grand Challenges, visit: http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/cms/8996.aspx

Category 2: “Women in STEM” – More women in the STEM workforce is vital to innovation, our economy and global competitiveness. Every day, inspiring women in a variety of STEM careers make a difference in the world. STEM literacy is a requirement in the 21st and possibly the best ticket to a good job, meaningful career, and a secure future.

Contest deadline: 11:59pm November 1, 2012

Winners will be notified by November 14, 2012

View the 2005-2011 winning posters here: http://www.stemposters.com/

Engineering Faster Swimmers

High Tech Hot Shots: Careers in Sports EngineeringYou may be wondering how engineering can enhance an Olympic event such as swimming, but perhaps a better question would be what couldn’t engineering do for swimming? To enhance the sport of swimming, engineers design everything from the swimming pool that reduces turbulence generated by the swimmers, to the swimsuit that reduces a swimmer’s resistance through the water, to the high-tech computerized racing systems used at Olympic events.

Creating Bodysuits

Engineers and scientists at Adidas found that the following variables enhanced a swimmer’s performance:

  1. Body temperature – Studies indicate that athletes have more power when they run a slight fever. The higher temperature induces chemical reactions that make muscles contract faster.
  2. Drag – When swimming, water sticks to your body and forms a boundary layer called surface drag. The bodysuits worn by competitive swimmers were specifically developed  to reduce drag.
  3. Muscle oscillation – This is a problem in many sports that causes fatigue. Muscle oscillation is when an athletes muscles-in-motion look like Jell-O. Bodysuits help reduce oscillation because they aid in compressing the muscle.
  4. Tight suits – Wearing a tight suit enhances a swimmers performance and also improves the proprioception. Proprioception refers to the nervous system’s interpretation of its body position based on how the suit presses against the skin.  Athletes that feel stronger and more in tune with their muscles will perform better.  According to Adidas, “the suit creates compression that allows the nervous system to provide better feedback on where the body is positioned.”

Swimming Pool Design

Aside from suits, there is tremendous engineering that goes into designing a swimming pool for Olympic competitions. The governing body for Olympic swimming pool design is the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA).  FINA specifies the depth, width, length, space between the lanes, and temperature of the pool. Engineers that design the heating systems for the Summer Olympic Games work tirelessly to maintain one million gallons of water at 78 degrees.

In the 1920’s, Olympic hopefuls vied for the gold medal by swimming in cold and dark water. Today, swimming pool engineers enable swimmers to swim faster in a cleaner, temperature regulated and generally more pleasant environment. However, a major problem in racing is surface turbulence.  Each swimmer in every lane creates wave patterns that have the potential of increasing the turbulence for other swimmers.  Engineers determined that the best way to decrease turbulence was to move the swimmer’s wakes to the bottom of the pool. If the waves were allowed to move from side to side they would only create more waves. By using pumps to increase the surface tension or pressure on the surface of the water, engineers were able to reduce wave action. Over one hundred inlets in a 360-degree pattern as well as extra gutters allowed swimmers from 24 countries to break more than 120 records during the Sydney Olympic games!

Other Amazing Technologies

There is no limit to the number of things that engineers can do to enhance swimming. Other technology in swimming that is quickly coming to the forefront includes using computer simulations to analyze and optimize strokes. By careful analysis, scientists and engineers have been able to gain solid evidence about how the body actually moves through the water and it may soon be possible to design the perfect stroke. Miniature computer displays indicating lap time, timers and the current time are being mounted inside goggles or on swim gear to act as a display while swimming. Fins are being designed with new tough and flexible materials to help divers kick easier and transfer more power with less effort.

To become an Olympic Games Engineer, check out High Tech Hot Shots: Careers in Sports Engineering.