Engineers Week Is Right Around the Corner

Discover ways to make a difference all week long

15 January 2014

U.S. National Engineers Week will once again bring together thousands of students and professionals, this year around the theme of “Let’s Make a Difference.” From 16 to 22 February, participants can get involved in activities around the country that benefit humanity, such as developing apps for charitable organizations or introducing children to science and technology through mentoring and setting up museum exhibits.

IEEE-USA, in partnership with DuPont—a global science company whose priorities are in the area of biotechnology products for agriculture, advanced materials, and industrial biosciences—is helping to sponsor Engineers Week to showcase the many ways technology can improve the world.

In this, IEEE plays a huge role. “We have so many diverse and talented members, but a lot of people don’t realize that we’re more than the letters in our name,” says IEEE Fellow Karen Panetta, IEEE-USA vice president for communications and public awareness. “It’s important that we get out the message that IEEE members work in all technologies.”

In particular, Panetta would like to showcase more of the work IEEE members do in biomedicine, which is especially popular with women because, she notes, they see the social impact it can make.

“Many don’t realize the underlying foundations of biomedicine are electrical and computer engineering, including signal processing and image processing, coupled to an understanding of how to build devices,” she says.

Moreover she’d like the week to be a call to action for IEEE members to use their talents to benefit others.

DEVELOPING Mobile APPS

IEEE-USA is sponsoring an apps competition that begins on 18 February. App-E-Feat is designed to match members with humanitarian organizations to develop mobile apps for a cause. The effort is IEEE’s contribution to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), whose mission is to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing problems. The contest will run through 19 May, and winners will receive an iPad Air. The opportunity to get involved with App-E-Feat will continue to be promoted through CGI throughout 2014. 

“With the Clinton initiative, we’re working with an organization that has its hands on the pulse of humanitarian efforts,” says Panetta, who came up with the idea behind the App-E-Feat project. “Nonprofits don’t really have access to the latest technology, but we do.

“We’re going to create a powerful synergy that’s never been seen before between such an organization and IEEE,” she says.

FAMILY DAY

IEEE-USA and DuPont are also teaming up as presenting sponsors of Discover Engineering Family Day. The event introduces children ages 4 to 12 to engineering, showing them the importance of technological literacy. It will be held on 22 February in Washington, D.C., at the National Building Museum.  

For the past three years, Family Day has attracted on average some 10 000 students, teachers, and parents to the museum and its design, architecture, and engineering exhibits, making it one of the largest engineering-focused events in the United States.

The Future City National Competition, a six-month long contest for U.S. middle school students to design cities of the future, will conclude in Washington, D.C., on 18 February. Interest in this competition has grown to about 40 000 participants around the country. IEEE-USA sponsors the national third-place award and the Best Communications System award, which awards the team with the most strategic communications system that is both efficient and accurate.

A NAME CHANGE

The National Engineers Week Foundation—the main organizers of EWeek—recently changed its name to DiscoverE and unveiled a new website with a host of resources for those interested in promoting learning about engineering.

The website includes the programs held during Engineers Week, as well as during the year. One EWeek program, for example, is Girl Day, which introduces girls to engineering by providing them with mentors. It will be held 20 February. Other DiscoverE programs include the online Global Marathon “For, By, and About Women in Engineering and Technology,” to be held from 5 to 7 March, and the DiscoverE Educator Recognition Awards, in April, which will recognize middle and high school teachers who inspire their students to study science and engineering.

EWEEK AND YOU

To participate during EWeek in your area, here are a few things you can do:

  • Find out what your local section is doing and see how you can contribute.
  • Make an engineering-related presentation at your local school, club, or library.
  • Volunteer to be a judge in a regional final of the Future City Competition.
  • Serve as a judge at the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C.
  • Lend your expertise to develop an app with App-E-Feat.
  • Check out the ideas on the new DiscoverE.org site, which include recommendations for trips with an engineering focus that can be taken around the United States.

“Engineers Week is a fitting opportunity to collaborate and highlight the role engineers play in creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, and healthier life for people everywhere,” says Karen Fletcher, DuPont’s chief engineer and vice president of facility services and real estate. She sees the event as an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments of engineers, the drivers of innovation not only at her company but also around the world.

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