Monday, November 08, 2010

The Importance of Engineering

Engineering is not only the vowel that leads to the convenient (if controversial) acronym for STEM, it's also the discipline that glues the consonants together. At the same time, it's not something that students--and adults--typically engage with in their everyday life. This means that though professional engineers often have high-paying, interesting jobs, educators need to make an extra effort to expose students to opportunities in engineering.

The National Academy of Sciences recently published a study on the uncertainty of K-12 engineering standards in the United States. It is true that engineering has long been taught and learned exclusively or primarily in higher education, with introductory science and math classes in K-12 providing the basic skills necessary for professional engineers to complete their college degrees. But basic engineering skills can be necessary or useful for other professions that don't require advanced degrees--like work in manufacturing and construction. 

Thankfully, many afterschool programs include engineering as part of their activities. Programs from the Directory -- like the Elementary Engineering with Legos in Ohio, Focus on the Possibilities career exploration program in Wisconsin, the Come Fly With Me program in Michigan, and the FIRST Robotics teams across the country, just to name a few. Here's hoping that the out-of-school world is able to keep students creating, innovating, and engaged in engineering.

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