By GEORGIA C. STELLUTO
“Engineers Inspiring Wonder” is the theme of this year’s National Engineers Week, with events being held throughout the United States from 18 to 24 February. Activities include museum exhibits, science competitions, and mentorship programs.
Kicking off the weeklong festivities is Discover Engineering Family Day, to be held on 17 February in Washington, D.C., at the National Building Museum. Family Day, which typically draws more than 8,000 visitors annually, is packed with hands-on activities that both parents and kids can enjoy. Engineers across disciplines are welcome to showcase their projects and teach participants new skills. Last year attendees met astronaut Roger Crouch, who flew on two NASA shuttle missions, and got to see NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon’s race car up close.
EWeek also hosts Future City, an engineering design competition for middle school students. The children imagine, design, and create a virtual prototype of a future metropolis. More than 40,000 students participate each year. The finals, to be held 20 February, bring together 37 regional-winning teams from across the United States to Washington. The top five teams get to present their projects on stage, and a champion is selected. IEEE-USA sponsors the Future City third-place award of US $2,000.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, planned for 22 February, is a campaign to educate girls about how engineers change the world. The event aims to inspire girls and make them aware of career opportunities in engineering. Volunteers are needed at events around the country to share their knowledge and experience and to demonstrate that engineering can be fun.
EWeek is a great way for volunteers and educators to inspire students and show them that what they learn in the classroom can be applied to solve real-world problems.
You can get involved in the activities mentioned above by visiting their websites, or you can create your own event. For example, you could teach hands-on activities at a school, library, or makerspace. The Engineers Week Kit, which contains a poster and ideas for activities, is available for free (shipping costs $2).
To promote your event or to find others to participate in, visit the Engineers Week calendar.
The website offers tutorials on a host of hands-on activities including designing a portable water-purification device and creating an LED greeting card. To get ideas for organizing an event, check out the Engineers Week planning webinar, in which experienced volunteers discuss ways to develop resources.
You also can help plan a field trip to a theater near you to see Dream Big: Engineering Our World. The Imax film showcases how engineers have built the world’s tallest buildings and fastest roller coasters, as well as humanitarian efforts around the globe.
Georgia C. Stelluto is publishing manager at IEEE-USA.