In an effort to spur more interest in engineering careers and show off how satisfying a science-related job can be, universities around the country are setting out on new initiatives ranging from job fairs to in-depth demonstrations.
According to The Advocate, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been sending students to St. Mary Parish schools around the region to show them why pursuing a degree in engineering was a great choice for them, and to heighten interest in engineering among teenage girls. The program is a part of the institute's Women's Initiative, which is striving to teach girls in middle school and high school more about engineering, including career options and the various fields within engineering.
Novalia Pishesha, an MIT student pursuing her doctorate in biological engineering, and Stephanie Ihezie, an undergraduate studying cognitive science, have already been to more than 1,000 St. Mary Parish schools, and have also been a part of other programs that aim to raise awareness of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.
"I like being a motivator to others and to help them see that they're not at a disadvantage," Ihezie said. "I hope they start thinking: 'I can be bigger and ultimately, that they become engineers or scientists.'"
The media outlet reported the MIT students recently finished their tour at B. Edward Boudreaux Middle school, where they gave a presentation on the many fields of engineering, including chemical, civil, mechanical and electrical. To make engineering more applicable to their daily lives, Pishesha told the teenagers that the bridges we drive over, the makeup they wear and the video games they play are all the product of advanced engineering. To really grab their attention, Pishesha also shared with them the average starting salary for these positions - about $50,000.
She did, however, note that the benefits of becoming an engineer would not come overnight. Rather, she told them that it would take hard work and discipline, but that it would be worth it in the end.
“Before you get all these perks, you have to work,” Pishesha told the girls.
Across the country in Duluth, the University of Minnesota is also helping students learn more about all of the different options engineers have when it comes to finding a career, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
According to the media outlet, the school will be holding a job fair on January 28 and 29, which will include an informational session that will give local employers the opportunity to talk about their businesses. The second part of the fair will focus solely on helping students find various kinds of employment, including seasonal internship opportunities or co-ops.
Several companies will be on hand at the event, including Allete, Enbridge, Larson Engineering, Karvakko Engineering, LHB Engineers and Architects and others. All of the scheduled sessions will be held in facilities on the University of Minnesota Campus.
The job fair will focus on the civil engineering sector, duties of which include designing and supervising large construction projects like roads, buildings, airports tunnels and bridges. These engineers are also tasked with developing reliable an efficient critical infrastructure, such as water supply systems and sewage treatment centers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for civil engineers are expected to grow by the end of the decade. In the 10-year period between 2010 and 2020, employment of civil engineering is expected to grow by 19 percent, with "numerous" job openings expected to appear in this period.
Civil engineers have an even higher median annual average salary, at $77,560, than other engineering sectors.