Motivating Engineering Messages

This report by Georgia Tech Professor and NAE helps study what inspires students to pursue Engineering Careers.

Encouraging young people to make a difference in the world through an engineering career is more likely to attract them than emphasizing the challenge of math and science skills

does “challenge of math and science skills” = robotics competition ?

The challenge he’s talking about is not directly a competition, but rather the emphasis to students that engineering requires advanced math and science skills and is therefor, a challenge.

He’s talking about which messages get through to prospective engineering students. His argument is that the message of “Engineers make the world better.” has more of an effect than “Engineering will test your math and science skills.”

I get what he’s saying though and it’s clearly evident every year that FIRST strives for not only the improvement of math and science skills, but to produce a change–a positive side effect–that can in turn, better the world.

I would tend to agree that placing the fate of the world is more of an incentive than “a challenge of your skills”. However, math and science certainly play a large role as well.

The work that is being described here is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. The picture is bigger than a robotics competition or about people who will eventually become engineers. This work is about having the public truly understand what engineers do and how they contribute to our society. Yes, it is about motivating students to pursue engineering careers and how to market the profession.

The team doing this work have hit some key points regarding how engineering is perceived by the general public. I’m glad to see that they have used a structured approach to make some recommendations on how to proceed.

Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for putting this out there!

The four messages that tested best are:

  • Engineers make a world of difference.
  • Engineers are creative problem-solvers.
  • Engineers help shape the future.
  • Engineering is essential to our health, happiness, and safety.

I’d like to focus on that particular section of the article. I agree that these are all spectacular messages, but I want to ask the question of application. As FIRST students and mentors or even anybody who is or will be an engineer, how should we handle these prompts when asked? How should we offer feedback to a potential or growing engineer, if inspired to do so?

Is it enough to just advertise such a one-liner (at this point in time I disagree) or does it require some offering of personal experience, some anecdote that provides extra dimension?

I’m surrounded by FIRST kids too much… I coulda swore that everyone wanted to be an engineer.

Forgot that there was the scare of a shortage…

Thanks for sharing, I (and probably others) enjoy reading these types (engineering) of articles.

Not really about engineering but the Stanford commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave is amazing. This was recommended to me by the captain of team 2554-War Hawks