I've been involved with Engineers Week since my college years - I served on panels, did school visits, career day events. In the end, I was simply sharing my experience as an engineering student. Why I chose engineering, what I was learning, what my plans were, the career path opportunities I had in pursuing engineering and how I making that dream a reality! Of course, there was always interest in how I even came to know Engineering which of course, I credit 150% to my mom. When I had a catalog of electives after moving out of Texas my freshmen year in High School, I was really hoping to sign up for shop - woods or auto but she advised me to take drafting. My life would change forever. [But I do plan on signing myself up for some woodwork or auto classes here in the near future]
As a professional, I continued on this effort to share and be a resource for engineering industries by sharing the different roles I had, what I did day-to-day in those different jobs, highlighted the different industries I have worked in: military defense, pressure vessel design, aerospace manufacturing, starting my own engineering consulting firm, and now working in automotive manufacturing. I even get to nerd out and share about OTHER disciplines of engineering and how they're all making an impact in our society, environments, and creating a new way of living [more on that in another post]. For the younger kids, I've seen great success in aligning the different disciplines with SUPERHEROES! Electrical = Storm, Mechanical = Iron Man, Chemical = Dexter's Lab, Nuclear = Hulk, on & on!
No words can express the excitement and "AWE COOL!" exclamations I hear when I share the cutting edge technology or even how if they go into civil engineering - they'll get play Minecraft for a living with REAL money, REAL resources, REAL land, & impact the lives of millions! Kids really just need it spelled out for them. They need to see how math and science aren't just concepts they'll "never use again". Problem-Solving is a skill set we all need as adult humans but if you sharpen up those skills, you can be front and center in a workforce with most fun, exciting, BEST paying jobs growing exponentially! They need to hear that, they need to see it, and they need to understand how they will be and ARE responsible for our future.
As I could go on for hours about the importance of how and why we need to educate our little ones about STEM education, career paths, and all the cool things they can accomplish in pursuing STEM - let's dive into the different ways you can get involved.
1. Community Centers
Most of the time they already have events happening, check out what they have going on and how you can help. Check out similar resources like the YMCA, a local Boys & Girls Club, or Girls Inc.
Since there's already a greater cause at work and usually a force of people running the structure, nonprofits tend to already have programming set in place and are simply needing volunteers to execute their programs. Some of my favorites are: SHPE, NSBE, SWE, ASCE, ASME, IEEE, Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering [TAME], Perot Museum!
3. School Visits
Career Days, Mentor during after school programs, just get in there! Representation Matters!
Normally this does require a background check, you'd have to express why you're planning on going and what you hope to achieve in attending. Google your local schools, reach out to a principle, counselor, or STEM director for school districts expressing your interest to visit!
4. Boy & Girl Scouts
Find a local council! My favorite is getting involved with Girl Scouts & their STEM initiatives! Especially locally here in Dallas, Texas with the amazing new STEM Center of Excellence. I was even honored enough to initiate and develop a partnership with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers [SHPE] DFW chapter!
For reference, here are some of my favorite Engineering activities:
Let me know how you plan on getting involved!
Have you participated in Engineers Week in previous years?