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“Talking E”: Exposing teens to engineering can double their interest in the field

March 8th, 2012

 It turns out the problem of America turning out fewer engineers might be easily solved. A recent survey of teens commissioned by Intel Corporation found that a major barrier to American teenagers pursing engineering careers is just a lack of familiarity with the profession. Once exposed to the facts about engineering, such as descriptions of what various engineers actually do and how much money they earn, more than half the teens surveyed said they’d consider engineering as a career.

What kind of facts influenced the teens? Realizing engineers’ roles in:

  • rescuing the Chilean miners who were trapped in 2010
  • delivering clean water to poor communities in Africa
  • designing the protective pads worn by athletes
  • constructing dams and levees that keep entire cities safe.

The study turned up some interesting numbers:

  • Fifty-three percent were more likely to consider engineering after learning about the role of engineers in the development of music and video games
  • An even fifty percent were influenced by the understanding that engineers make driving, texting, and social networking possible;
  • Sixty-one percent were influenced after learning engineers make an average annual income of $75,000;
  • More than 50 percent were more likely to consider the field upon learning that the unemployment rate amongst engineers is more than 4 percentage points lower than the national rate.

Currently, American university students tend to drop out of engineering programs. But experts are finding that the majority of students who concentrate on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in college actually make that choice during high school.

Colleges and professional societies across the country are encouraged to continue offering creative initiatives to stimulate student interest early. Inspiring youths to solve the problems they see around them, as they learn how things work and discover how to improve products and processes, is an important step toward careers in engineering.

Most engineers can recall when their interest in engineering was sparked. Some recall taking toys apart and rebuilding them. Others had a parent in the industry or an outstanding teacher or extracurricular activity that ignited their passion. Giving current and future generations the chance to explore the career possibilities in engineering will certainly create more such sparks.

Any questions about the engineering field and your place in it? Need to hire an engineering professional? The Talley Group is here to help, so contact us today.

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