Engineers Week to Emphasize Engineering Diversity

This year’s Engineers Week, to be held from 17 to 23 February, is cochaired by IBM Corp.

7 January 2008

This year’s Engineers Week, to be held from 17 to 23 February, is cochaired by IBM Corp. and the Chinese Institute of Engineers-USA. Including year-round activities, Engineers Week is expected to reach several million people worldwide, with an emphasis in 2008 on expanding diversity in the engineering field and in the workplace.

This marks the 20th consecutive year that the event is being supported by a coalition, which now includes more than 100 engineering, scientific, and education societies, major corporations, and government agencies—with the IEEE as a charter member of the original coalition. The National Society of Professional Engineers founded Engineers Week in 1951.

As a way to encourage underrepresented groups to consider engineering careers, IBM and CIE-USA have launched the Engineers Week Diversity Council, which seeks “to broaden the ranks of women and underrepresented minorities at all levels of engineering.” To help do this, the Diversity Council is writing a statement on diversity in engineering for the U.S. presidential candidates and others running for office this year in the United States. The council will also identify methods to enhance diversity programs already under way through EWeek’s various educational and outreach initiatives.

For the past four years, EWeek has been promoting engineering diversity to the public through its “Global Marathon For, By, and About Women in Engineering.” To be continued this year in March, the 24-hour global marathon will incorporate live Internet chats, telephone conversations, and Webcasts. The marathon has featured presentations from as many as 11 countries, including Egypt and Poland.

A new game and a video competition are also being unveiled during EWeek. IBM has a three-dimensional Internet game that allows student players to be engineers and challenges them “in a race against time to save the world from running out of energy.” And IEEE-USA is holding its first online engineering video competition on “How Engineers Make a World of Difference.” Undergraduates are being asked to develop videos for YouTube that will make engineering cool and meaningful to 11- to 13-year-olds. Seven scholarships totaling US $10 000 will be handed out for those entries that best reinforce engineers’ contributions to the quality of life.

ON THE SCHEDULE Older programs are still going strong.

• The EWeek Future City Competition challenges students globally, ages 11 to 14, to design and build a model city of tomorrow. This year’s project involves keeping a country’s infrastructure healthy by using nanotechnology to monitor city structures and systems. In the United States alone, the competition is expected to involve more than 30 000 youngsters in more than 1100 schools. The IEEE is sponsoring the competition’s essay, and IEEE-USA will present the communications award to the school whose students develop the best city. The competition has spread to schools in Egypt, India, Japan, and Sweden.

The National Engineering Design Challenge asks high school students to design an assistive device that relies on technology to help people with disabilities in the workplace. Sponsored by the Junior Engineering Technical Society, the challenge builds students’ skills in math, science, research, writing, presentation, and drafting/design. The judging to select the device that best helps individuals achieve independence in their lives will be held on 15 and 16 February in Washington, D.C.

• The Discover Engineering Family Day, cosponsored by IEEE-USA, will be held on 16 February at the National Building Museum in Washington. It will bring together different age groups in an intergenerational and multicultural interactive family event. More than 6000 youngsters and adults participated in Family Day in 2007.

Design Squad, the engineering reality PBS TV program for 9- to 12-year-olds, kicks off its second season during EWeek. The IEEE provides financial support to the program.

• “New Faces of Engineering” recognizes engineers 30 years old or younger who have achieved outstanding educational and career goals. Each EWeek sponsoring society chooses one notable young engineer to be featured in a full-page ad in USA Today from a "top five" list of outstanding candidates—all of whom are included on the EWeek Web site.

• The National Academy of Engineering awards more than US $1 million in its annual recognition ceremony held during EWeek. This year’s awards will be presented on 19 February in Washington. And the Chinese Institute of Engineers-USA is hosting its annual Asian American Engineer of the Year Awards on 1 March in Dallas.

In addition to these national programs, local engineering groups sponsor open houses at companies and universities, receptions, and award presentations.

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