Engineers Week celebrates the field’s future
The engineering field already is facing the threat of “brain drain,” with a large number of professionals nearing retirement age. If no young people enter the industry to replace those leaving the industry, the lack of qualified engineers could become a crisis.
Through programs like 2009 Engineers Week (Feb. 15-21), the National Engineers Week Foundation is looking to turn the tide and bring more young engineers into the fold. The group—a coalition of more than 100 professional societies, corporations, and government agencies—aims to ensure the development of a diverse, well-educated future engineering workforce by fostering interest in understanding in engineering and technology careers.
Launched more than 50 years ago by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the foundation offers a number of programs. The upcoming Engineers Week consists of a number of events across the country, including:
* Future City Competition: Middle-school students from all over the country submitted entries tackling a particular challenge—this year, “Creating a Self-Sufficient System Within the Home That Conserves, Recycles, and Reuses Existing Water Sources.” The national finals will take place Feb. 17 and 18 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; grand prize winners land a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.
* Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day: On Feb. 19, the foundation encourages engineers to mentor grade-school girls and offer them the chance to witness the possibilities of engineering through first-hand observation and experience.
* Engineer Your Life : Part of the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project, this effort is supported by the National Engineers Week Foundation. The campaign looks to encourage high-school girls to entire the field and “Dream Big, Love What You Do.”
* Discover Engineering Family Day: On Feb. 21, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., welcomes families with interactive, hands-on exhibits and other programs celebrating engineering. The event usually brings record-breaking crowds to the institution.
The National Engineers Week Foundation Web site offers a range of support materials for local educators and engineers to conduct their own Engineers Week programs.