2017 U.S. Engineers Week Encourages Attendees to Dream Big

A new IMAX film showcases engineering feats, and thousands of activities introduce kids to the field

10 February 2017

Whether we’re talking about city skyscrapers, the devices we carry in our pockets, or the supersonic trains that get us from one place to another, engineers create the world around us. To kick off this year’s U.S. Engineers Week (EWeek), 19 to 25 February, the new film, Dream Big: Engineering Our World, highlighting the accomplishments of those in the profession, will be shown in IMAX theaters throughout North America.

Other events to take place that week include Family Day, which introduces children to basic engineering concepts; the Future City competition, in which middle school students dream up what cities will look like in the coming years; and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, which encourages those in the profession to serve as role models for the next generation.


Dream Big will play in theaters across North America throughout the year starting 17 February. The film sets the tone for what EWeek is all about: celebrating the work of engineers and how they advance technology.

Dream Big is more than a movie; it’s a movement,” says Jane Howell, the film’s project leader and director of communications for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in Reston, Va. The film is narrated by actor Jeff Bridges.

To garner the support of the engineering community, Howell and the producers made sure Dream Big highlighted as many engineering disciplines as possible.

“We’re showcasing the interrelationship among different engineering disciplines and technologies,” she says. “When you look at autonomous vehicles, for example, there are systems engineers, electrical engineers, automotive engineers, mechanical engineers, and civil engineers all working together.”

Attendees will be able to access online resources associated with the film. There are hands-on activities that parents can use to engage children, and lesson plans that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, designed to help students improve in science and math subjects.

“We can’t tell the full story of engineering in 42 minutes,” Howell says. “The educational materials help us provide a broader and deeper context.”

The film’s partners include DiscoverE, IEEE, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.


Discover Engineering Family Day and the Future City Competition are both celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. The programs launched in 1993 under IEEE-USA leadership when the organization served as EWeek’s lead society.

Family Day will be held on 18 February at the National Building Museum, in Washington, D.C. The event has been attracting some 8,000 people annually. The day aims to introduce children ages 4 to 12 to basic engineering concepts. The IEEE-USA exhibit will feature a dynamo that converts muscle power into light energy. Attendees will feel how much more energy is required to light an incandescent light bulb than a compact fluorescent or LED bulb.

Astronaut Roger Crouch, who in 1997 flew on two NASA space shuttle missions, will once again be on hand for photos and autographs.

And participants will be able to view clips of Dream Big, with several of those featured in the film there to answer questions about their projects.

Future City, an engineering design competition for middle school students, attracts more than 40,000 participants each year. The competition’s finals bring together 37 region-winning teams from across the United States at the Capital Hilton, in Washington. In addition, three teams from China, two from Canada, and one from Egypt will be competing from 19 to 21 February. The culminating on-stage event will for the first time be live-streamed on the Future City website. The top five teams will present their projects, and the judges will select the champion.

IEEE-USA sponsors the national Future City third-place award of US $2,000. This year it will also sponsor the Most Advanced Smart Grid Award, recognizing the team that incorporates smart grid technologies in a safe, efficient, and reliable way in its city’s design.

Two IEEE-USA volunteers, Life Senior Members Jeff Friedhoffer and Steve Bonk, will serve as judges alongside IEEE-USA President Karen Pedersen, who will present both awards.


Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, held on 23 February, is a worldwide campaign to educate girls about how engineers change our world and serve as role models. IEEE Student Member Brooke Neufeld, from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is an EWeek Girl Day role model. She was voted IEEE-USA’s 2016 College Edition New Face of Engineering for her internships at NASA and SpaceX and her STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) outreach efforts. DiscoverE is looking for additional role models to inspire girls to explore engineering.

There are many ways to get involved in EWeek, such as making an engineering presentation to students at a school or library and attending luncheons and awards ceremonies recognizing fellow engineers.

To participate in EWeek, take a look at upcoming activities as well as ideas on how to volunteer.

Chris McManes is IEEE-USA’s public relations manager, in Washington, D.C., and vice chair of the Discover Engineering Family Day planning committee.

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