Engineers Week, February 18-24, 2007, is a formal coalition of more than 75 engineering, professional, and technical societies and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the program is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers among young students and by promoting pre-college literacy in math and science. Among the oldest of America’s professional outreach efforts, EWeek also raises public understanding and appreciation of engineer contributions to society. Co-chairs for 2007 are the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and Tyco Electronics.
As in past years, Eweek 2007 will offer national and local events and activities designed to heighten interest in engineering specifically for the next generation of professionals.
Recognizing that creating interest in and enthusiasm for engineering among children between the ages of nine and 12 is a formidable challenge, Engineers Week has partnered with WGBH Boston this year to produce Design Squad, a new PBS program that uses reality television to introduce kids and families to the engineering design process.
It’s educational, uses real life applications of math and science, and meets the toughest teaching standards. Design Squad features two teams of real high school kids who use their problem-solving skills to design, construct, and test engineering projects such as a machine that automatically makes pancakes, or a motorized red wagon that can reach speeds up to 20 mph. The brainchild of ZOOM producers WGBH Boston, Design Squad premieres the first of its 13 episodes on PBS stations nationwide during Engineers Week 2007.
Tyco Electronics, 2007 Engineers Week Co-Chair, has made a contribution to Design Squad. Dr. Juergen W. Gromer, Vice Chairman and President of Tyco Electronics, says his company decided to fund the Design Squad initiative because of its unique appeal to youngsters. “This is an age when too many children begin to consider themselves ‘no good’ at math or science or both,” says Dr. Gromer. “Design Squad shifts the emphasis from chore to challenge, making it more likely that a student will rise to the challenge as compared to being defeated by the prospect of an insurmountable task. When they understand the necessary – and fun – roles that math and science play in achieving their goals, the more likely they will be to embrace these subjects.”
Major funding for Design Squad is provided by the National Science Foundation and the Intel Foundation. In addition to Tyco Electronics, further funding is provided by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, The Harold and Esther Edgerton Family Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, Intel Corporation, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and IEEE.
Engineers Week partnerships with PBS TV programs began in 2002 with the creation of the “ZOOM into Engineering” teaching kit for the popular kids’ show ZOOM. It continued in 2005 with Cyberchase, which also comes with a multi-media activity guide, “Cyberchase: Math in Science and Engineering,” developed by outreach staff at WNET Thirteen New York in collaboration with the National Engineers Week Foundation.
National Engineers Week Foundation executive director Leslie Collins says the appeal of Design Squad and Cyberchase is their ability to connect math and engineering in a context that makes sense to the age groups they target. “Math is an abstract concept to most children, yet they respond enthusiastically if the subject is viewed as part of their world and their interests,” says Ms. Collins. “Cyberchase makes that math connection,” she adds. “These TV shows ideally fit our outreach goals, because the younger that a child latches on to the math and science message, the sooner they’ll engage in pursuits and studies that can lead to engineering careers.”
The Cyberchase guide won the 2006 Distinguished Achievement for Excellence in Educational Publishing Award from the Association of Educational Publishers. The National Engineers Week Foundation will provide teleconference training for volunteers on how to use a new guide based on the upcoming series of Cyberchase episodes. The new season’s theme is invention.
Engineers Week 2007 co-chairs, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and Tyco Electronics, aim to continue the rich history of EWeek programs reaching out to students from kindergarten through college, and other key ongoing initiatives such as the third annual “Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering.” Slated for March at the Engineers Week web site – www.eweek.org – the Global Marathon, a 24-hour, around-the-clock Internet and teleconference event, features presentations and Q&A sessions from points originating around the globe. The Marathon heightens awareness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) issues among pre-college, college, and young career women, and addresses issues of concern such as retaining women in college engineering programs and the workplace.
Middle school students are front and center in the National Engineers Week Future City Competitionâ„¢, celebrating its 15th anniversary and now operating in 39 regional sites with 30,000 middle school students in more than 1,100 schools. Through hands-on applications and teamwork, students created computer and large tabletop scale models of cities of tomorrow under the guidance of teachers and volunteer engineer mentors, and presented their designs before engineer judges at regional competitions in January. Along the way, students got a peek into potential careers in engineering, math and science. Future City students also research and write an essay on how engineering can solve a pressing social need. This year, students will detail how an energy strategy using fuel cell systems might power a city of the future. First place regional teams win a trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Finals, February 19-21, 2007.
The Future City Competition was recently named “Partner of the Year” by Connect America, a program of the Points of Light Foundation, at the National Conference of Volunteering and Service in Seattle. More information on the Future City Competition is available at www.futurecity.org.
High school students can participate in the annual National Engineering Design Challenge (NEDC), sponsored by JETS, in which students apply creativity, science, and engineering problem-solving and teamwork to help people with disabilities enter or advance in the workplace by overcoming barriers to employment. After competitions across the country, the top five teams go to national finals in Washington on Friday, February 16th.
Other EWeek programs underscoring the profession’s commitment to the future include:
– The seventh annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Thursday, February 22, 2007. “Girl Day” mobilizes thousands of women engineers – with support from their male colleagues – to mentor and share firsthand experiences of engineering to more than one million girls and young women each year.
– New Faces of Engineering, showcasing the rising young stars from around the world. By highlighting young engineers and their contributions, New Faces provides stimulation and incentive for college-level students and encourages younger students to consider engineering careers. EWeek partners nominate candidates age 30 and under who must hold an engineering degree, be employed as an engineer from two to five years, and have been involved in projects that impact public welfare or further professional development and growth. Nominations were made during 2006 and all New Faces are featured at www.eweek.org.
– DiscoverE provides more than 45,000 engineers with educational materials (including the Design Squad and Cyberchase activity guides) to work with five and a half million students and teachers during extracurricular programs and in classroom visits to elementary, middle and secondary schools. Translations of hands-on activity materials in French, German, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish are available at www.eweek.org/site/international/index.shtml.
– The National Academy of Engineering (www.nae.org) presents its annual awards, including the $500,000 Draper Prize, at a gala dinner in Washington on Tuesday, February 20th. The annual Asian American Engineer of the Year Awards, sponsored by the Chinese Institute of Engineers (www.cie-usa.org) to recognize outstanding Asian American professionals in academe, public service and corporations, will be announced during Engineers Week 2007 and presented at a ceremony on March 31, 2007, in Washington, D.C.
– Engineers Week-sponsored web sites include the Sightseers Guide to Engineering (www.engineeringsights.org), recently updated with new information pertaining to engineering marvels in all 50 states, and www.discoverengineering.org, an engineering resource for middle school students with links to hundreds of educational, professional, and corporate sites. Information on all Engineers Week programs and events can be found at www.eweek.org.
Local events planned in conjunction with national Engineers Week events will include the following:
– The 2007 Richmond Joint Engineers’ Council (RJEC) Annual Banquet will be held on Thursday, February 22nd at the historic Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Va. This year’s featured speaker will be Lieutenant General Carl A. Strock, Chief of Engineers and Commanding GeneralÂ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. General Strock and the Corps of Engineers have been heavily involved in rebuilding efforts in Louisiana and Iraq. Previously he served as Director of Civil Works, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In September 2003, he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Iraq as the Deputy Director of Operations for the Coalition Provisional Authority. His previous assignment was Director of Military Programs, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute and a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Mississippi State University. He is a Registered Professional Engineer. Complete banquet schedule and registration information in addition to other related events is available at www.rjec.org.
– The Virginia Society of Professional Engineers (VSPE) will sponsor and coordinate the MATHCOUNTS competitions in Virginia which will be held during February. MATHCOUNTS is a national competition where students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades compete both as individuals and as teams in events designed to promote mathematical competency. MATHCOUNTS was developed as a positive and rewarding solution to reversing the current problem of math illiteracy and as a way to make parents, educators and the general public aware of career opportunities in math. Complete information about the 10 regional competitions held in Virginia is available at www.vspe.org. ##