Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
By: Erin Curry, P.E.
The week of February 18 – 24, was Engineers Week in 2018. E-Week is a time for engineers to increase public knowledge of the need for engineers and celebrate the difference engineers make in our everyday lives. Engineers are encouraged to visit local schools to educate students about engineering and encourage the studying of STEM courses.
Engineers Week started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. E-Week typically falls in the week that contains George Washington’s birthday as he is considered one of the United States’ first engineers, especially for his surveying work.
Richard Holt and I visited four Giles County, Tennessee schools during E-Week. Richard attended Richland School and Bridgeforth Middle School and spoke to about 500 students in 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades. I spoke to about 250 students in 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at Elkton School and Minor Hill School. Our presentations included overviews of the major engineering majors of Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical, and Civil Engineering with discussions of different emphases such as petroleum engineering, computer engineering, and environmental engineering.
When I speak to students, I like to give them a real world example of how engineering is involved in all aspects of life. As the daughter of a farmer, I took an ear of field corn with me and asked the students what kinds of engineers helped get that corn from the field to the final customer (or cow). The students were quick to yell out mechanical engineering for the farm equipment, chemical engineering for the pesticides and fertilizers, and civil engineering for the roadway to transport the corn.
I also like to speak directly to the girls about the need for more women in engineering fields. Women bring different perspectives to a team and a better-rounded team is good for everyone. One demonstration I did with the students at Minor Hill was to have 8 boys and 2 girls stand up to demonstrate the 80/20 ratio of male and female students in engineering programs.
Richard and I both enjoyed taking questions from the students. Of course, the most popular questions were how much money can you make as an engineer (answer: varies but pretty good amount) and how long do you have to go to school (answer: 4-5 years then an internship period).
We hope the kids enjoyed our E-Week presentations as much as Richard and I did. Thank you to the Giles County schools that allowed us to share our careers with the students.