New education standards are being implemented that emphasize “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” (STEM). If you are concerned, as I am, about young people entering our profession, you may think “it is about time!” But there is a major problem, whereas virtually all teachers have taken courses in science and math, and they have been exposed to technology in their life and continuing education, virtually none have ever in their lives taken an engineering course. How can they teach what they have never been exposed to?
That is where I need your help. My wife is the current President of the NJ Science Teachers Association; I am active in the NJ Society of Professional Engineers. The science teachers, who typically teach the “engineering” part of STEM, are studying what they need to get up to speed. I am sending you this letter to ask you to join me in making a difference.
I am asking you to help the teachers as a resource by putting your basic contact information into a data base along with any limitations you may have and what county you might help in. Your involvement may be as simple as answering a teacher’s question in a phone call. Google does not always provide the answer to a challenging question asked by a bright student. You might be asked to help the teacher in preparing a lesson (by phone, email, or in person), or at most talking to their class about your experiences. For any classroom time, we are working on PowerPoint lessons that you just fill in personal experience information. You can always say no, we won’t send you out without help and preparation.
We will even send a letter to your boss asking for time away from the office for this project. This effort is needed to stop the erosion in the scope of engineering as a career. The Engineer’s Creed asks that we “enhance the status and usefulness of the profession.” You might convince a bright young student to become an engineer; at the very least, you will teach them and their teacher what value an engineer brings to their daily life. If not you, then who?
Michael Ernst P.E. President, Professional Engineers' Society of Union County July, 2013