No matter how you slice the issue, engineering education is riding a strong wave of popularity. The ever-growing profile of STEM education, and supporting arguments about career prospects in related fields, certainly drives some of this phenomenon.
Not to be dismissed, though, are the power and persuasiveness of intrinsic features of engineering itself. A vehicle for work that can improve lives in ways large and small, blend the creativity and intelligence of smart, diverse teams, and offer rewarding, flexible career paths, the field welcomes students with all kinds of interests and skills.
New career guide
We have just published an updated edition of our Engineering Career Guide that packages all the opportunities and rewards of engineering in an appealing, engaging collection of features, data, and practical guidance for middle and high school students.
What popularity looks like
Materials and resources like our career guide that present engineering as an appealing study and work option seem to be finding a receptive audience among college-bound students. The raw numbers, for example, for enrollment and earned undergraduate degrees have shown impressive growth, with both hitting all-time highs in 2017.
But some portion of this increase is just a function of growing numbers of students overall going to college. More telling is the relative increase in enrollments and degrees. Per numbers from the National Science Foundation:
In the mid-2000’s, engineering enrollments clocked in at about 2 to 2.4 percent of overall undergraduate enrollments. By the mid-2010’s, this rate had gone up to 3.5 percent and above.
Earned bachelor’s degrees in engineering have increased from the low 4 percent range to almost 5.5 percent over the same period.
A good fit
The swelling interest in engineering comes as Millennials give way to Generation Z in the undergraduate population. Unlike their digital-immigrant predecessors who absorbed the Internet, PC’s, and cell phones as kids or teenagers, Generation Z students were born into a technology-saturated world. Study and work in a tech-related field like engineering will feel, for many of them, like an extension of the familiar.
The save-the-world argument for engineering would also seem to resonate with this generation. A job that promises “to make a positive impact on people’s lives” mattered a lot to 80 percent of high school seniors in a 2015 poll, compared to 47 percent of working adults. And success for 54 percent of them meant “making a mark on the world,” compared to 22 percent of their older workforce counterparts.
Against this backdrop, the engineering option should indeed appeal to large numbers of students. Coupled with a friendly hiring environment, the meaningful, substantive work that engineering can entail adds up to a career option that hits on all the key notes for students plotting out their study and work futures.
Making the case
The new edition of our Engineering Career Guide is designed to help educators, outreach programs, and engineering advocates of all kinds lay out all the reasons that middle and high school students should consider the field. It shows them:
Engineering is a great career option, with lots of ways to make the world a better, safer, healthier, and even just more fun place.
Engineering can drive new green technologies to fight climate change and enable sustainable living for people in the developed and developing world alike.
Engineering can offer meaningful work at a good salary, with many different options to explore throughout a career in the field.
New and cutting-edge
It highlights innovations and opportunities in exciting areas like:
Green technologies and environmental issues
Customers from colleges and universities to school districts to companies and non-profits have used our Engineering Career Guide in hundreds of outreach and education programs across the country.
Learn more about this award-winning publication and see sample pages here. We believe our updated Engineering Career Guide can help make engineering an exciting, accessible study and work option for almost any kind of student.
Eric Iversen is VP for Learning and Communications at Start Engineering. He has written and spoken widely on engineering education in the K-12 arena. You can write to him about this topic, especially when he gets stuff wrong, at email@example.com.
You can also follow along on Twitter @StartEnginNow.
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To showcase STEM career options, pair our cybersecurity books with the 2nd edition of our Start Engineering Career Guide.
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Our books cover the entire PreK-12 range. Get the one that’s right for you at our online shop.