CCC - Engineering Recruitment: A Crisis in the 21st

Strategies to Identify and Propel
High Potential Engineering Students
Towards a Career in Engineering
Engineering enrollment in US down by 20% since the 1980’s
Since 1998, U.S. high-technology industries' imports exceed
exports (aerospace, pharmaceuticals, office and computing
equipment, communications equipment, and scientific
China & India, populations over 1 billion, emerging high
technology & intellectual property competitors
India is #1 outsourcing destination for US companies
“Many retirements from the U.S. S&E labor force are impending.
“U.S. 15-year-olds scored below the international average on
the 2003 Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA), which measures students' ability to apply scientific and
mathematical concepts and skills”
Collectively, African Americans, Hispanics, and American
Indians/Alaskan Natives represent 10% of all college-educated
persons employed in Science & Engineering Fields.
Women represent approx. 50% of the population, but only 26%
of those in Science & Engineering fields
11% of all engineers are women.
Source: NSF Science & Engineering Indicators 2006
“If the United States is to maintain its
economic leadership and be able to sustain
its share of high-technology jobs, it must
"The years between the present and 2020
offer engineering the opportunity to
strengthen its leadership role in society and
to define an engineering career as one of
the most influential and valuable in society
and one that is attractive for the best and
the brightest,"
The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New
Century (2004) National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
“The book finds that the next several decades will
offer more opportunities for engineers, with
exciting possibilities expected from
nanotechnology, information technology, and
bioengineering. Other engineering applications,
such as transgenic food, technologies that affect
personal privacy, and nuclear technologies, raise
complex social and ethical challenges. Future
engineers must be prepared to help the public
consider and resolve these dilemmas along with
challenges that will arise from new global
competition, requiring thoughtful and concerted
action if engineering in the United States is to
retain its vibrancy and strength.”
A Harris Interactive
survey conducted on
behalf of the American
Society for Quality
indicated that 85% of
youth, ages 8 to 17,
say they are not
interested in a future
engineering career for
a variety of reasons.
Source: 06/22/2009
Top reasons:
44% - Don’t know
much about
30% - Engineering is
not as exciting as
other careers
21% - Not confident in
math/science ability
Yet 17% ranked science
& 21% ranked math as
favorite subjects!
The survey, of parents as well as youths, aimed to provide a better understanding
about the perceptions of selecting an engineering career in light of a troubling
shortage, which will reach 70,000 by 2010, according to an estimate by the National
Science Foundation.
Expose ALL students to Engineering Early.
Motivation for NSF ITEST / CEENBots
Identify students that possess High
Potential for Engineering.
Propel High Potential Engineering students
toward an Engineering Career Path.
Limited view of what an “engineer” looks like
Gender-based conceptions
Racial/Ethnic Group perceptions
Economic Factors
Lack of exposure to “what is engineering?”, or
“it’s too hard”
Belief that “it’s not achievable for me”
Others you can think of?
What is engineering?
Engineering is FUN, Interesting, Creative!
◦ CEENBots
◦ Hands-on Activities
Achieve a technically-literate population.
◦ Junior high students of 2009 will be the Engineers
of 2020!
◦ Do you know the Core Qualities of a Student With
High Engineering Potential?
Who fits the bill, really?
◦ Boys that have it, Girls that have it
◦ Cultural and Ethnic Factors
To what extent does media influence a student’s
perception of their own potential as an engineer?
How does culture, ethnic background, family
upbringing influence a student’s perception of their
own potential as an engineer?
Are all high potential engineers hands-on tinker-ers?
Are all fearless and experimental in math and science
◦ If not, how could these qualities be nurtured and encouraged?
How are girls different from boys in social,
emotional, mental development at this age?
How might these differences express themselves
differently in a male/female high potential
engineering student?
Inquisitive –wants to understand “why” and
“how” things work:
◦ Tinkerer: Hands-on learner, explorer –take it
apart (Kinesthetic Learner)
◦ Thinker: Seeks abstract, conceptual or
mathematical understanding of how it works
(Visual, Verbal/Aural, or Reading/Writing Learner)
Analytical Thinking & Problem Solving
Ability in and/or strong interest in math
and science
Team environment - Engineers work as a team
to solve problems for all of humanity.
Diverse engineers create powerful teams,
bringing different strengths, perspectives, and
styles of approach to complex issues.
“Woman are integrators, team builders, experts
in parallel processing, handling many things at
Together, diverse engineering teams are the
strength our country needs to successfully meet
and solve the complex human needs of the next
-Barriers and Enablers for Women in Engineering (From an article by National Academy of
Engineers Vice President Sheila E. Widnall, April 2000)
Limited view of what an “engineer” looks like
Gender-based conceptions
Racial/Ethnic Group perceptions
Economic Factors
Lack of exposure to “what is engineering?”, or
“it’s too hard”
Belief that “it’s not achievable for me”
A Personal Perspective
In 2005, the ONLY
undergraduate team in the US to
qualify to compete in the
International RoboCup FourLegged Soccer Competition in
Osaka, Japan .
The first all-women and African
American undergraduate team to
compete in RoboCup in Osaka,
Japan (2005) and Bremen,
Germany (2006).
In 2007, earned 2nd place in the
RoboCup 2007 Atlanta Technical
Challenge Passing Challenge
SpelBots are ranked 7th in the
world in the Four-legged
Technical Challenge RoboCup
Spelman College is a private, historically
Black all women’s college founded in
1881 in Atlanta, GA
The SpelBots with Advisor
Dr. Andrew Williams
“…if aerospace engineer
Robert Howard Jr., age 36, is
successful, 21st-century
settlers will live in a dwelling
that might resemble an
oversized balloon or soup can.
As manager of the "habitability
design center" at NASA's
Johnson Space Center in
Houston, Howard is helping to
create a dwelling that could
comfortably house four people
on the moon for at least half a
Lunar Living
“Crew comforts” are of utmost
importance to NASA engineer
Dr. Robert Howard Jr., who
designs lunar living quarters.
What will you do to engage student
populations that face barriers to envisioning
a career in engineering?
◦ Girls, African American students, Latino students?
◦ Your predominate student population?
What will you do to engage their
participation in your planned CEENBot
In what ways will you identify the high
potential engineering students in your
sphere of influence?
Observe & Record the impact of your action
Record any unforeseen boundaries you
discover along the way.
Seek & Implement Solutions - Resource List
NSF Deliverable: SPIRIT Project Challenge
◦ Can we DEMONSTRATE that activities developed
with this project can show improvement in
academic performance in girls and
underrepresented students?
Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
◦ Website for pre-college girls:
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
◦ Website for pre-college:
The Society of Mexican American Engineers and
Scientists (MAES)
◦ Website:
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
◦ Website:
Achieving Gender Equity in Science Classrooms
Try Engineering: Life of An Engineer
(8 Profiles of Real Engineers)
Women In Science – 16 Historical Profiles
Barriers and Enablers for Women in Engineering
(National Academy of Engineers)
Dr. Calvin Mackie of Channel Zero
Plant the seed.
Nurture the vision.
Capture all of our resources …
Grow up the next generation of engineers
for our country!
"What attributes will the engineer of 2020 have?"
That engineer "will aspire to have the ingenuity of Lillian
Gilbreth, the problem-solving capabilities of Gordon Moore, the
scientific insight of Albert Einstein, the creativity of Pablo
Picasso, the determination of the Wright brothers, the leadership
abilities of Bill Gates, the conscience of Eleanor Roosevelt, the
vision of Martin Luther King and the curiosity and wonder of
our grandchildren."
Created by: Alisa N. Gilmore, P.E. , University
of Nebraska-Lincoln, NSF SPIRIT, July 2006
Updated July 2007, July 2008, & June 2009
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