How Parental Encouragement Led Us to Become Engineers

STEMSixty-five percent of scientists and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduate students say they developed their interest in those fields during elementary school, according to this article about why parental involvement is critical to STEM interest. Studies have also shown that students decide as early as second grade whether they like math and whether or not they think they are good at it.

If children don’t think they are good at math and science early on, they may narrow their thoughts on careers at a young age as well, which can eliminate many rewarding career options. This is why parental involvement and encouragement, especially in science and math, is so important.

These facts got us thinking about how we ended up with careers in engineering and how our parents encouraged us to get here. In some cases, we are encouraging our own children as well.

“My dad played math games with me, such as figuring out how much change I should get and how many more miles to our exit, from a very early age. He is an engineer and encouraged me to enter engineering. He piqued my interest when he took me to his job at the paper mill and showed me all the projects he had designed and built.” Alicia Bailey, P.E.

“We talk about items like this regularly with our kids. The topics that come to mind are mostly related to the paving work on the main roadway near our house. We talk about how the weather (rain, freezing temperatures, etc.) affects the work progress.” Lawren Pratt, P.E., LEED AP

“I have fond memories of my dad teaching me (or at least attempting to teach me) the concepts of multiplication and division before I had even started kindergarten. I believe that was the beginning of my interest in and love for math, which is what eventually led me to choose engineering as my college major.” Laura Beth Yates, EI

“Our Mother passed away when Joe and I were four years old, and despite difficult circumstances in early childhood, I was blessed to be raised in a loving and supportive Christian home by my Aunt and Uncle who are like parents. We were always taught that we could achieve anything that we desired to through dedication and hard work, even graduate from college and become an Engineer.” Jim Meads, P.E.

“My mother didn’t particularly encourage STEM, but encouraged me to be anything I wanted to be.” Erin L. Curry, P.E.

“Both of my parents were very encouraging and supportive of anything I was involved in. Having that support gave me the confidence to pursue things that were tough like math and science. Seeing them be proud of me when I excelled in academics was a great motivator. I can remember spending time with my dad when he fixed or built things around our house. My dad can do anything! I would watch him while he figured out dimensions and took measurements. I attribute this time spent with him to my desire to want to “figure” things out and see how things work. I think all the time being dad’s helper allowed me to develop the skills to be able to think in 3D and to understand the mechanics of objects.” Jennifer G. Brown, PE

“I have spoken to fourth graders, first graders and second graders about what I do as an engineer. When I tell most children that I am an engineer, they think that I drive a train. Most people, including children, don’t know what engineers do until we tell them about it. But when they begin to understand how engineers help people be safe, and that we would not have cars, roads or electronic games without engineers, they develop an appreciation for engineering as a possible future career.” Darren Hamrick, P.E., LEED AP

“My daughter Lindsey graduates this year from the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School.
She is excellent in math, and I have encouraged her to think about engineering in college. She has met with Jennifer Brown and Laura Beth Yates in our office to learn about engineering from a few great female role models.”
Joe Meads

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