A Parent's Guide to Inspiring a Future Engineer
Education and Careers The world needs more engineers. So DiscoverE has a list of ways parents can inspire their children to pursue engineering as a career.
Why encourage a child to become an engineer?
Why not? Engineers have the passion to make a difference in the world and the technical know-how to achieve it. And the best part? Engineering can be found in anything that inspires a child.
Want to protect the planet? Engineers develop state-of-the-art recycling systems. Love sports? Engineers design new and improved gear and equipment for athletes. Want to help save lives? Engineers develop life-saving medical technologies that have the potential to impact tens of thousands of people all around the world. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
What does it take to be a good engineer?
While it’s important that engineers have a solid background in math and science, ultimately, the best engineers are creative and imaginative. They enjoy collaborating with others, are curious and persistent, like solving problems and they want to make a difference.
What do engineers really do?
Engineers bring positive change to the world. They dream up creative, practical solutions and work with teams of smart, inspiring people to create things that matter. They design, invent, fix, improve, research, travel, present, inspect, draw and write. And they do it everywhere, from big and small cities, to rural communities, offices, classrooms, factories, research labs and even space
Is engineering a good career?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the field of engineering is expected to increase as much as 10 percent in the coming decade. This demand will continue as governments and industry work to meet the challenges of a growing global population. Future engineers will have the opportunity to impact millions of people with their innovations while enjoying job security and excellent pay.
What is the pathway to become an engineer?
Research shows that students who start thinking about college in middle school and early high school are more likely to go to college and are generally already taking the classes they’ll need for admission to an engineering program. And while good grades and a well-rounded course load are important, extracurricular activities are a factor as well. As students begin exploring college options, have them consider the following:
Two-Year Associate’s Degree: Many good technician and technologist jobs require just two years of school. This is a great way to save money on tuition and still get a solid education.
Traditional Four-Year Degree Program: The first two years are a mix of math and science, English, social sciences, the humanities and introductory engineering classes. In the last two years, students investigate the engineering specialty of their choice.
The Military: Options include applying to a service academy (e.g., West Point) which is free for accepted students, or they can enlist in the military to earn money for college.
What are some ways to introduce and engage a child in engineering?
To help introduce a child to engineering, start by asking what kind of impact they want to have on the world. Depending on their age, you might offer to help them brainstorm. Then ask them what kinds of things they enjoy doing. Are there any overlaps? For older children, you can ask what types of work interest them.
Activities to inspire future engineers
Kids love hands-on activities, and if you add some problem solving into the mix, it’s all the better. There are dozens of online resources — even Pinterest boards — dedicated to engineering activities for kids. Whatever interests your child, be sure to point out how and why it’s an engineering activity. Before you know it, they’ll begin to notice it in everything they do.
Engineering programs and clubs
Does your child’s school offer an engineering program or after-school club? Increasingly, schools are incorporating various STEM programs and activities into their curriculum. There are also many independent, nationwide programs that students can participate in, even competitions such as Future City, which asks kids to imagine, research, design and build a city that exists 100 years in the future.
Engaging children in engineering is a great way to not only reinforce math and science skills, but promote confidence, critical thinking, creativity, and perhaps best of all, encourage students to take intellectual risks.