When my daughter was in first grade she was asked what her dad’s job was. She answered that he was an Engineer and this meant that he placed his feet up on his desk, talked on the phone a lot, and went to lunch with other Engineers each day. This answer prompted us to have a long discussion on what an Engineer really does. Her brother joined in the discussion. The result is that today all three of us are Electrical Engineers. The lesson that I learned is that we need to talk with young folks and encourage them to pursue careers in engineering.
Describing the various disciplines is straight forward enough. But I also like to focus on what engineers have in common. Creativity, it seems to me, is the common denominator. Engineers are always looking for practical ways to use technology to improve our collective quality of life. And that, I suppose, is the crux of what I try to get across to students.
Engineers make things better, faster, easier and safer; everything from MP3 players and the Internet to clean water and wonder drugs. This year we celebrate a significant milestone--the 100th anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. That historical flight wasn’t much--12 seconds for a distance of 120 feet. But it was the first controlled, sustained flight in a heavier-than-air craft. Today thanks to advanced engineering, we can comfortably travel anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours.
That is just one example of how engineers have been improving our quality of life for the better part of two centuries. And National Engineers Week, February 22-28, 2004, is our chance to tell the public how engineers contribute to our quality of life. National Engineers Week provides the tools that you can use to interest students in engineering. Go to www.eweek.org for more information. Join me and participate in one of the many outreach programs to inspire a new generation. Let’s make every day a better one.
By the way I now have an 18-month old grandson. His dad, his Aunt, and I are encouraging him to become an Engineer.