June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
23.499.1 - 23.499.11
Engineering Ambassador Network: Professional Development Programs with an Outreach Focus To solve today’s engineering challenges in energy, environment, health, andsociety, we need a wide range of solutions, which can be realized by having a diversegroup of engineers who have strong technical backgrounds. Workforce studies haveindicated that the number of those being educated in the STEM (science, technology,engineering, and math) fields cannot meet the market demands, which may cause evenmore work to be placed offshore in the future.1 Even worse, our ranks in engineering arenot diverse, and we are losing access to talented resources to help fill the workforcedemands. The American Society of Engineering Education reports that only 17.8 percentof engineering bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women in 2009, which is the lowest ithas been since 1995.2 Moreover, only 4.6 percent of engineering bachelor’s degrees in2009 went to African-Americans and only 6.6 percent went to Hispanics. Theengineering disciplines having the lowest percentages of women receiving bachelordegrees are electrical, computer engineering, and mechanical engineering with numbersall below 12 percent. As indicated through a survey given to numerous mechanical engineers workingin industry, there is a compelling need for engineers with strong communication skills.3While most mechanical engineering programs include communication in the curriculum,the range of audiences and the types of communication taught are both limited and oftendo not include public speaking. This weakness further exacerbates a lack of publicunderstanding, particularly by high school guidance counselors and teachers, on thecareer opportunities and the impacts of engineering. The Engineering Ambassador Network consists of Engineering AmbassadorPrograms at 21 engineering colleges across the United States. Each program can bethought of as a professional development program for undergraduate students, but withan outreach mission to middle and high schools. The aims of these EngineeringAmbassador Programs are to increase the diversity of those seeking engineering degreesand to strengthen the communication and leadership skills of those currently seekingengineering degrees. To increase the diversity, the Programs emphasize placing the rightmessenger (college engineering students with advanced communication skills) with theright message in front of middle and high school classes. The messages used, such asengineering contributes to the health, happiness, and safety of our everyday lives, arethose promoted by the National Academy of Engineering in their book Changing theConversation.4 This paper presents an overview of the Network, first giving the motivation for itscreation. Following that is a description of what distinguishes an EngineeringAmbassador program. That description is followed by a brief history the Network,beginning with its origin in 2009 at Penn State, through its expansion to three schools(Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Connecticut, and WorcesterPolytechnic Institute) in the Northeast, and up to its expansion to 21 schools at the FirstNational Conference in August 2012.References1. Carnevale, A.P. and S.J. Rose (2011). The Undereducated American. Available at http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/undereducatedamerican.pdf. Accessed October 1, 2011.2. American Society of Engineering Education (2009). Available at http://www.asee.org/papers-and-publications/publications/college-profiles/2009- profile-engineering-statistics.pdf. Accessed October 1, 2011.3. ASME (2010). Vision 2030 survey given to ASME members working in industry.4. National Academy of Engineering, Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering (Washington, D.C.: NAE Press, 2008).
Hatzell, J. G., & Marshall, M., & Alley, M., & Thole, K. A., & Haas, C., & Engel, R. S., & Garner, J. K. (2013, June), Engineering Ambassador Network: Professional Development Programs with an Outreach Focus Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19513
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