By Beth Piper
Engineers are the scaffolding of society; designing, implementing, and maintaining the structures, machines, and processes that support our world. Without their efforts we would be without access to almost all of the essential math, science, and technical systems we require to function and move forward. Today’s future nuclear engineers will be instrumental in developing solutions necessary to meet the changing economic and energy needs of the United States.
This year’s National Engineer’s Week (E-Week) has been timed to also commemorate America’s very first engineer: George Washington. Held close to his birthday, from February 21–27, it’s a dual-purpose celebration. DiscoverE (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation) strives to both highlight the contributions of engineers and encourage those within the community to pass on the math, science, and technology skills needed by the next generation.
This year it is turning 65, and there are many events happening all over the United States. On the DiscoverE website you can view the calendar of events to find an E-Week happening near you.
Play a part as a role model in the first ever Global Day of Engineers. On Wednesday, February 24, the world will celebrate the accomplishments of engineers and set the path for generations to come. Participants can choose to host a local event, create a public display, or honor an individual that has made a difference in engineering. You also have a chance to motivate future engineers by hosting hands-on activities where kids and adults can interact. A list of ideas for hands-on activities can be found here.
Females are severely underrepresented in the field, both as graduate students and working engineers. Girl Day, on February 26, is a movement created to motivate girls to pursue careers in the field of engineering and other interests in the realm of science and technology.
You can get involved by creating an event in your area or helping with one on the agenda of events. Donating your time or money to an event in your city could help encourage young women to consider, possibly for the first time, to become an engineer as a future goal.
Students of Nuclear Engineering
Many things are being done to motivate the next generation to consider nuclear engineering a viable career choice.
Throughout the year, organizations promote nuclear engineering by supporting students. For example, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted the University of Texas at El Paso $1.4 million to create new courses in nuclear engineering and start studies to design the next generation of materials for nuclear reactors. Special events, such as seminars and lectures, take place all over the country, from MIT to Purdue University. The U.S. Navy is also actively recruiting young adults into the field of nuclear engineering. The knowledge and experience gained in the nuclear Navy could lead to work as civilian nuclear engineers.
Engineer’s Week is just one means of showing children and adults how very important engineering and engineers are to our society. For nuclear engineers, however, there are special programs to inspire students to pursue this career, from niche scholarships to grants. Nuclear power is needed to provide the low-carbon power we rely on today and depend on for tomorrow. You can help by participating in Engineer’s Week and other programs that show society what engineering is all about.
Beth Piper is a science author from Chicago, Ill. Ms. Piper has a strong interest in nuclear power as a clean energy source.