Letters

Get involved In reference to December's Editor's Viewpoint and your call for more engineers in the profession regardless of their place of birth, you can keep calling, but if the engineering community at large does not get involved, nobody will be coming. I keep reading all these articles about the alarming lack of students entering the engineering fields, the alarming rate of engineering jobs ...

01/01/2004


Get involved

In reference to December's Editor's Viewpoint and your call for more engineers in the profession regardless of their place of birth, you can keep calling, but if the engineering community at large does not get involved, nobody will be coming.

I keep reading all these articles about the alarming lack of students entering the engineering fields, the alarming rate of engineering jobs being "shipped" out, and the latest item in your column re-stating census information and the need for both U.S. citizen and foreign-born talent to fill the critical needs within our fields. Often, these articles keep contradicting each other. In my opinion, we should want and desire all the engineers we can get. It has often been a disappointment for me to participate in local school activities and see the lack of representation from the engineering, design and construction communities. The fact is that many of the kids I talk to are very much interested in some type of engineering or related field career. We often talk about Engineers Week and the local societies often feel they have done their part by holding some type of "Recognize Ourselves" event. For the last several years, I have been the only engineer that has participated at several local schools in my area during this important week.

How do I engage the kids? Simply through the relationship of math and science and "engineering" at its most basic. As an electrical engineer, my open discussions with these young, talented and curious minds focus on almost everything but electrical engineering. I find things that appeal to them directly and relate them back to engineering: for example, super soakers and the propulsion engineer who invented them. We talk about other disciplines and scientific and mathematical rules that are used to "make stuff" and "make stuff better," from a simple pen with a retractable tip to a PDA more powerful than the first computer I ever used. By the time I am done, several kids want to be engineers—I am thankful they even want to explore it.

In 2004, I hope to pull off the most ambitious talk to date. I am working with a local middle school to try to put together a "pep rally" to celebrate engineers—and scientist and mathematicians—and their many accomplishments during Engineers week. The program is simple and involves participation from the adjacent high school's drama and computer lab teams. We plan to make the middle school kids laugh, think, and mostly, ponder the possibilities and their role in our future.

This year, I hope I am not the only engineer at these schools once again. I encourage all engineering and industry professionals to get involved in helping our youth dream like we once did and hopefully still do.

Luis Vargas, Jr., P.E., KCI Technologies, Inc., HUNT Valley, Md.





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