Engineer, STEM Resources

It’s time to celebrate National Engineer’s Week or E-Week!

If you aren’t an engineer, you probably wouldn’t know that the 3rd week in February every year is known as “E-Week” or National Engineers Week. The celebration of E-Week began in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The purpose is to raise awareness to the contributions to society that engineers make.

FUN FACT: Did you know that George Washington was considered the countries first engineer for his survey work? His birthday is February 22 and E-Week is also that same week.

The National Engineers Week Foundation formed DiscoverE in 1990 to engage engineering volunteers to participate in K-12 programs and partly as a response to a government survey that showed a future shortage of engineering talent. They provide various educational resources to the community for engineering outreach. You can check them out at www.discovere.org.

So, what is an engineer? Many people have trouble defining engineering because it is such a diverse career field! Engineers design, problem solve, improve, fix, research, inspect, etc. to make the world better (think of words like efficiency & optimization).

Most don’t sit at work solving math problems all day. They often work in teams to make the world that we live in better. Engineers are needed in almost every industry. Engineers must have excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills because they use their knowledge, skills and experiences to solve complex problems.

To get some ideas as to what an engineer does, I decided to share my experiences in engineering. I have worked in both automotive and medical industries.

In automotive, I was a Material Quality Engineer and Corrosion Field Quality Engineer.

In my Material Quality Engineer role, I ensured that the raw materials (like paint, adhesives, sealers and raw plastic pellets used to make things like bumpers or instrument panels) supplied to the automotive facilities met design and quality requirements from suppliers. I audited suppliers manufacturing facilities and quality systems, I issued quality standards, developed quality test methods, tested and evaluated test results in a lab and performed analysis with highly technical equipment to determine why a material failed.

Simply, I made sure materials from our suppliers worked in manufacturing and met customer requirements.

As a Corrosion Field Quality Engineer, I evaluated customer complaints and the corrosion on vehicles in the field using data analysis and performing surveys on customer vehicles at dealerships. I worked on teams to solve very complex design and manufacturing flaws to prevent early corrosion on vehicles.

Simply, I looked for rusty parts on cars to determine if they got rusty too early.

When I worked in the medical field, I was a Supplier Quality Engineer. In that role, I ensured that the parts supplied met design requirements. I audited suppliers quality systems and also evaluated parts that did not meet design requirements to determine if they could be remade to meet the requirements. I also was audited by other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on my work to create a safe and quality product for public use.

Simply, I made sure that parts from suppliers were safe to use in our final medical device.

In all of those roles, I often times worked in teams, I wrote reports and I had to think creatively, quickly and methodically. My complex experiences in math and science (notice I said complex experiences not necessarily that I was good at all math and all science) helped give me the confidence and ability to think creatively when solving various problems that needed to be solved.

I plan to introduce more engineers and also share additional resources that may help you understand engineering and how to introduce it to your child(ren).

If you know an engineer, take the time this week to talk to them about what they do. Ask them about how they became interested in their chosen field and what they enjoy about their job. Also, tell them thank you for their contributions to our society. And most importantly, encourage your child to learn more about engineering with you. Tell your child’s school about National Engineers Week and ask if they have plans to celebrate it with your child’s class and how. Encourage them to check out the DiscoverE website above.

To all of my fellow engineering family and friends, thank you so much for all that you do.

And to my Dad who is an engineer and helped me find my path to engineering, thank you for encouraging me and always believing in me.

Happy National Engineers Week!

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The featured image above was provided by the DiscoverE Organization.

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My why…

We entered the “why” phase in our household several months ago.  Every parent that has or had a toddler, is familiar with this sometimes dreaded, exhausting phase.  We try our best to embrace the curiosity.  We want both our children to have the confidence to ask “why” as they grow older.  The best of the best scientists and problem solvers ask “why”.  If you have a child like this or if you are going through this phase, I highly suggest the book, “Ada Twist, Scientist” by Andrea Beaty (the other books in this collection are outstanding too).

Question MarkThis week, I’m going to touch on “why”.  But not the “why” you are thinking of or how I framed this blog post… a different kind of “why”.  Since I started this blog about a month ago, I’ve received a lot of really great positive feedback from so many of my amazing and supportive family and friends, several former co-workers and even total strangers.  (Which, by the way, I’ve appreciated every single one – it’s the reason I’ve continued.  So thank you for the support and for the shares!)  But one common question I have received is, “why did you decide to do this?”.

Let’s travel back to the summer before my senior year in high school.  At that time, I was narrowing in on universities and I was pretty sure that I wanted to major in journalism.  I wrote for the newspaper of my high school, often wrote editorial comments to my local newspaper and I was even part of an Explorers program with one of the large local TV news stations in my hometown.  I loved writing.

Then, my Dad (an engineer) approached me about a Summer Engineering Camp at my local university (now, my college alma mater) for high school girls.  I really hadn’t considered engineering until then.  And I honestly didn’t know what engineering was, so I decided to check it out.  I LOVED it and that following week, I declared that I was going to major in engineering.  Not only was it interesting but I truly felt that I could change the world. (And, in a small way, I was able to do that in my career before becoming a Mom.)

That one experience and decision has led me down so many wonderful paths in my life.  I only wish that there had been more opportunities available to not just my parents but other parents to introduce these concepts sooner – especially to young girls.

My love for writing has always been there but the experiences of my life (many I didn’t even touch on here) are what led me to this.  I feel that it is so important to introduce children to STEM careers and problem solving concepts early – while their curiosity is still high.  This will in turn build their confidence later in school and in life.  As parents, we are their first teachers.  And more parents and caregivers should feel that they are also able to help their young kids – without always spending tons of money.  And I know I’ve stressed young kids but if your children are older, it’s not too late to get them exposed either… I was a senior in high school!

I became an engineer because I wanted to change the world and help others.  This is one way that I feel that I can do that with my background…

Who knows… maybe I’ll inspire the parents of the next doctor, nurse, astronaut, engineer, biologist, Nobel prize winner… ok, that might be stretching it… but you understand what I’m saying… 

I don’t know where this blog will lead me in the future but I’m open to the possibilities!

I promise that next week, I’ll get back to more exciting STEM posts for you and your children.  As always, all opinions in this post are my own.

Tell me about your experiences getting introduced to the STEM fields or tell me about struggles you might have introducing STEM to your kids in the comments below or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com

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