Well, duh! If you tell high school students that engineers do cool stuff and make lots of money, they get interested in engineering as a career.

I mean, really??  This is some sort of revelation?

Turns out it is.  Curriculum Matters posted on a study commissioned by Intel and performed in collaboration with Change the Equation.

The first paragraph of the Intel press release is a statement of what I would have thought would be obvious:

Tackling the issue of graduating more American engineers may be easier than originally thought, according to a new survey of teens commissioned by Intel Corporation. The survey found that a lack of familiarity with the profession is a significant barrier to getting American teenagers to pursue engineering careers. Yet, exposure to any facts about engineering, including the breadth of what engineers actually do and, specifically, how much money they earn, leads more than half of teens to say they are more likely to consider engineering as a career.

So yes, it would be nice if schools, as the press release suggests, “offer teens real-world, hands-on engineering experience and interaction with engineers, like that found in robotics programs and science competitions, to improve the likelihood that they’ll get hooked on the subject and pursue it in college.”

But it’s difficult to see where the resources to expand such programs are going to come from in this cash-strapped era.

So how about this?  Offer professional development for guidance counselors on opportunities in science and engineering and the pre-college preparation necessary to make students STEM-ready.  Provide evening seminars at schools for parents on career opportunities in STEM fields.  Lock every teacher who says “if you take physics you will not get into a good college” in the dungeon.  Hire principals who make it a priority to coax as many students as possible into STEM fields. (and fire the ones who say “if I had to take chemistry to graduate from high school I wouldn’t have graduated”)

Duh.  Really.


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One Response to Well, duh! If you tell high school students that engineers do cool stuff and make lots of money, they get interested in engineering as a career.

  1. Doc Carr says:

    Does an extra B or C (in hs physics) increase or decrease a student’s chance of being admitted to your university? Better check before you complain about the advice.

    On your main point: Did the survey mention how hard engineers work or what “pre-STEM” classes they need to take in high school?

    For every “Duh” moment there is also a “Doh” moment. Every presentation about engineering shows Chemical Engineering on top of the list, so “duh” lots of kids say they are interested in it. Then you show them a freshman and sophomore year that consists of one year of regular chemistry followed by one year of organic chemistry and “doh” they are not so sure. And they don’t even know that organic is infested with pre-meds.

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