Aiming For Diversity, Engineers Target Girls
First annual "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" will be among the main events of National Engineers Week 2001
It's every girl's dream: Grow up and become an engineer.
Well, not every girl, perhaps, and maybe not yet. But if the National Engineers Week Committee's new outreach campaign works, the dream could become commonplace some day soon. For National Engineers Week 2001,the committee will launch the first annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day -- Thursday, February 22, 2001 -- a nationwide project of engineering societies, corporations, government agencies, and other service organizations to redouble efforts to bring the world of engineering to girls during the week of February 18-24, 2001.
According to National Engineers Week 2001 co-chairs IBM and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the engineering profession is facing not only a dearth of engineers in general, but a lack of diversification. Only nine percent of engineering positions and 27 percent of computer science and programming jobs are currently filled by women, and the number of women graduating from college with engineering degrees has plateaued in the past few years. That underscores the urgency, they say, to encourage girls to excel in math and science as early as elementary school -- and continue to excel -- so they'll be ready for formal engineering courses in college.
While there has long been a strong interest in engineering among the boys, the committee is determined to make that the case for girls, too.
The program kicked off on October 25 at NSPE's headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, when representatives from some 30 societies, corporations and organizations laid plans to ask 100 organizations to pledge as many engineers (preferably women) as possible to the effort. In turn, the volunteering engineers will be asked to each personally reach out to girls on Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day or at some time around National Engineers Week. IBM will lead the effort by pledging 500 engineers from its Women in Technology program.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is only part of the legacy of National Engineers Week 2001 co-chairs IBM and NSPE. For its part, NSPE will also establish a new website, www.engineeringsights.org. Dubbed the "Sightseer's Guide to Engineering," the site, launching on Monday, February 18, will offer a state-by-state travel guide to famous and not so famous outstanding engineering feats in America. Designed for children and adults, the colorful tour aims to encourage families to include these stops in their vacation plans. Meanwhile, the public is encouraged to submit suggestions for the site between now and its launch by visiting http://www.eweek.org/nspe/engineeringsights/.
Many other National Engineers Week activities underscore the committee's emphasis on the next generation of engineers. Next year will mark the ninth anniversary of the National Engineers Week Future City CompetitionTM, where seventh- and eighth-graders from across the United States create their own visions of cities of tomorrow. Working first on computers and then building three dimensional scale models, the program teaches students the rigors of building and operating a modern metropolis. More than 30,000 students are expected to participate, making it one of the largest and most successful engineering education programs of its kind. Winners from 26 regional competitions in January will meet in Washington on February 20 and 21 to compete for the national title. More information can be found at http://www.futurecity.org . Other projects scheduled for National Engineers Week 2001 include:
- The National Engineering Design Challenge, which asks high school students to design and build working models of a new product that solves a public need and demonstrate it at a competition in Washington, D.C. on February 20 and 21. This year, the challenge, sponsored by JETS, Inc. (the Junior Engineering Technical Society), challenges students to create a device that helps people with disabilities. For more information, visit http://www.jets.org.
- The discoverengineering.org websit(http://www.discoverengineering.org), targeted to middle school students and launched in 1999 by National Engineers Week co-chair Eastman Chemical Company, provides information on becoming an engineer. The site uses the engineering intricacies of nine "cool things," such as roller coasters, CD players and cars to pique the interest of young people. Hundreds of links to educational, professional and corporate sites assist in finding further resources.
- Discover "E" lets 40,000 volunteer engineers help millions of
elementary, junior and senior high school students discover practical
applications of math and science through hands-on engineering activities. Through its Engineering Goes Public program, materials are offered to engineers, librarians, and science/technology centers to create National Engineers Week displays and programs in hundreds of libraries, tech centers, project sites and even local malls.
- The 11th annual National Technological University "Discover Engineering" telecast on Wednesday, February 21, for junior and senior high school students, will feature the new Jimi Hendrix acoustical hands-on museum as well as the Future City Competition.
- The $500,000 Charles Stark Draper Prize (the "Nobel" of engineering), and the new, biennial $500,000 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, will be presented at a black-tie dinner and ceremony at Union Station in Washington on February 20. The Russ Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in an engineering field of critical importance that contributes to improving the human condition.
- Breaking Through: The Creative Engineer -- an exhibition that opened in Washington during National Engineers Week 1998 -- finishes a nine-city nationwide tour and is scheduled to appear in 2001 in Rochester, New York, Alamogordo, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas.
For a planning kit for engineers with graphics, hands-on activities and suggestions on how to get involved in National Engineers Week, or for more information on how to participate and organize a local National Engineers Week program, visit http://www.eweek.org.
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Editors Please Note:
Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, National Engineers Week is celebrated annually by thousands of engineers, engineering students, teachers and leaders in government and business. In 1990, the National Engineers Week consortium expanded its scope and now includes more than 100 engineering, scientific and education societies, and major corporations dedicated to increasing public awareness and appreciation of technology and the engineering profession. Co-chairs for 2001 are the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and IBM.