Advising Engineering

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1 ADVISING ENGINEERING Getting students interested Guiding students to college It is important for teachers, advisors and school counselors to know how to get students interested in engineering and be able to guide them through the college application process. HOW CAN WE SPARK INTEREST IN ENGINEERING? Since there are not many primetime TV shows about the engineering profession, students may not even know that engineering exists. However, you may know some students that would be interested in engineering if they were given the opportunity to explore all this field has to offer as a career. KNOW YOUR STUDENTS Excellence in math and/or science Interested in technology (how things work) Identify interests and link to engineering Often, math or science teachers may direct students to consider an engineering profession, as engineering relies heavily on these disciplines. Students who excel in mathematics and/or science may be excellent engineering candidates. Furthermore, if you have a student that is interested in technology (or how things work), or if you can help a student identify their interests they may be a perfect match for engineering as well. As students understand what engineers do and how engineers make a difference, they may want to know more. INSPIRE YOUR STUDENTS Explain the requirements for a career Present the excitement of engineering projects Be realistic about the level of commitment Often, students are encouraged to pursue a career in engineering because a parent, guardian or another relative is an engineer. It is important that students understand that engineering is academically challenging and requires a great deal of commitment. In order to be successful in such a demanding field of work, students need to find inspiration from within them; not simply follow in someone s footsteps. LOOK FOR CLUES Hobbies Interests Passions Listen to your students carefully. Engineering may be the right path for them if they say things like: I like to build things I want to know how things work I like to work with my hands Page 1 of 9

2 I m very creative I like technology I want to be an inventor I like science and math I want to make the world a better place CONNECT TALENT with OPPORTUNITY Knowledgeable Creative Inventive Resourceful = Engineers Ethical Motivated Dedicated Engineering is a combination of technical know-how and creative ingenuity. A parent, teacher or advisor should consider advising a student to explore engineering as a college major if that student can be described using one or more of the following characteristics: COLLEGE PREPARATION Basic requirements Mathematics Physical sciences Regardless of desired college major, students need to follow a college preparation sequence. If they meet the basic academic requirements, they will be a desirable candidate for admission. However, students applying to an engineering program must have a strong background in math and the physical sciences. ENGINEERING REQUIRES Four (4) year college degree Sciences Mathematics Economics Engineering Ethics To acquire an engineering job, a four-year college degree is required. Typically, an engineering student takes courses in a variety of areas. The three core physical sciences courses that engineering programs usually expect students to have are: Biology Chemistry Physics Page 2 of 9

3 Most engineering programs ask that students complete calculus by the time they enter college. In order for students to prepare for college level mathematics, they should complete these courses: Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 Geometry Pre-calculus Trigonometry Calculus ENGINEERING REQUIRES TECH EXPERIENCE Engineers and engineering students need to be tech savvy. Even though keyboarding and software classes are important and teach familiarity with the computer, they are generally NOT accepted as a technology course. Generally only computer language courses, for example developing programs in the C++ computer language qualify as a technology course. ENGINEERING SCHOOLS REQUIRE TESTING SAT Subject specific tests TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) In addition many colleges require students to take standardized tests, such as the SAT Engineering schools require high scores in the mathematics portion of standardized tests. Some engineering schools ask students to take subject specific standardized tests. For more information, contact the student s desired college, university admissions office or visit their website. For students where English is a second language, the Test Of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL Exam, may be required to measure their ability to communicate in colleges and universities. ENGINEERING SCHOOLS ACCEPT ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSE CREDIT Test score results of 4 or 5 Transfer credits from other colleges / universities Many engineering schools accept advanced placement course credit, as long as students pass the advanced placement test with a score of 4 or 5. Also, engineering schools will accept transfer credits from other colleges and universities that meet set requirements. Students who have college credit should send their official transcript to the engineering dean s office. Page 3 of 9

4 CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCHOOL Choosing the right school requires a lot of thought. If a student is interested in undergraduate research or a career as a professional researcher, then that student should apply to a research-based engineering school. This means the professors at the school receive funds to establish and carry out research projects. Depending on the college or university, the way a student can indicate an interest in engineering may vary. In some schools, engineering is included under one college umbrella and the student does not need to submit a special application. Another option is for students to apply to a technical college or university. These schools only offer technical degrees such as engineering, computer science and management information systems. When students enter technical schools, they declare engineering as their major sometime during their first year. A large college or university may require students to complete an application that is specific to their school of engineering. The student will be admitted only if they meet the requirements of the engineering program. CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCHOOL Universities may have dedicated engineering schools First year students may not have to declare their major Understand what engineering majors are offered Fortunately, many engineering schools do not require first year students to select a major until their second semester. This means that students have approximately four months to explore the various types of engineering offered before they choose an engineering specialty. It is especially important for students to research colleges and universities to understand the types of engineering majors that are available and the research they are conducting. Future engineering students have many options available to them. The following are a few important topics to consideration when deciding on a school: SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS Ensure the school supports your specialty If a student is interested in a specific area of non-traditional engineering, they may not find the exact phrase when researching a college or university. For example, biomechanics engineering may be offered under mechanical engineering or biomedical engineering. Therefore, a student should contact the school directly to ensure the specialty they want is offered. Accreditation of Schools Accreditation is a non-governmental, peer-review process that assures the quality of the education students receive. Educational institutions or programs volunteer for periodic reviews to determine if specific academic criteria are being met. Accreditation is not a ranking system; it is simply assurance that a program or institution meets established quality standards. Page 4 of 9

5 Importance of Accreditation Helps students and parents choose quality college programs Enables employers to recruit graduates they know are well prepared Helps registration, licensure and certification boards to screen applicants Provides colleges and universities with a mechanism to assess, evaluate and improve the quality of their programs Types of Accreditation Institutional Accreditation: evaluates overall institutional quality. One form of institutional accreditation is regional accreditation of colleges and universities. Specialized Accreditation: examines specific programs of study rather than an institution as a whole. This type of accreditation is granted to specific programs at specific levels. Architecture, nursing, law, medicine and engineering programs are often evaluated through specialized accreditation. Listen to Engineering Students To get a personal perspective on the college engineering experience, click on this link to hear from actual engineering students: ] Alternate Routes If students are interested in engineering but do not meet all of the requirements, there are alternate routes into engineering schools. Many colleges and universities have educational opportunity programs. These programs provide alternate admissions requirements for students who come from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Junior College Students may choose to attend a junior college for one or more semesters to establish a solid academic foundation. Once this is achieved, students may apply to an engineering school as a transfer student. Some junior colleges have articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities. These agreements assure a smooth transition from one institution to another. Work Experience If a student decides to enter the work force prior to enrollment in a college or university, they will need to verify that standardized test scores are still valid for admission. Certain schools require test scores that are no more than 5 years old. Depending on the nature of the work experience, skills learned on-the-job might come in handy as a student progresses through an engineering undergraduate program. Typically, work experience does not count as traditional college credit. Page 5 of 9

6 UNDERREPRESENTED POPULATIONS IN ENGINEERING Women Asians/Pacific Islanders African Americans Hispanics American Indians/Alaskan Natives The 2007 National Science Foundation report s report on Women, Minorities and persons with Disabilities in Engineering indicates the proportion of the US population that is a minority will continue to rise in the first half of the 21 st century. In this report, minority groups are identified as Asians/Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians/Alaskan Natives. In contrast, another study shows no increase in the number of students from minority groups graduating with degrees in engineering. We must focus on increasing the numbers of underrepresented groups in engineering. Greater diversity within engineering provides the broader perspectives and creativity necessary to solve complex problems. DIVERSITY OFFERS A VARIETY OF PERSPECTIVES As the world changes, the problems and challenges emerge. When faced with these challenges, engineers work in teams to invent, innovate, design and create. Teams may consist of anywhere from three people to hundreds of people. By working in a diverse group, many minds afforded multiple perspectives that will lead to a better solution. DIVERSITY LEADS TO BETTER SOLUTIONS Consider the invention of the automobile seat belt. They were designed strictly by male engineers. When the first seat belts were introduced, the design was based on the build of an average male. What about women and children? The belts were not as safe for them. If the initial design team had been more diverse, this oversight might have been prevented. Diverse engineering teams deliver better solutions. Engineering is not limited to a certain group of students. Equal opportunity exists in this field. Students who show creativity and problem solving skills are possible engineering candidates. Encourage and support these students. STUDENT DIVERSITY IS AN OBJECTIVE! Many colleges and universities have Minority Engineering Program Offices and Women in Engineering program Offices that design undergraduate and graduate programs to support currently enrolled students. Pre-college engineering programs are also available to underrepresented populations. Page 6 of 9

7 Many corporations and engineering societies are committed to achieving a more diversified engineering workforce. They host a variety of programs for primary and secondary school students. Non-profit agencies also sponsor a variety of activities, including tutorials to enhance educator s knowledge of engineering. They may also host informational web sites and attend professional education conferences. There are many resources that get students excited about the fascinating world of engineering. RESOURCES TO GENERATE EXCITEMENT Textbooks Great Lakes Press: books and teacher materials for K-12 Key Press: project-based book for grades 9-12 JETS Store: resources for first hand engineering exploration Great Lakes Press offers various books for grades K-12. Each can be easily incorporated into existing curriculum, with components related to science, math, reading, language arts, health and social science. Teacher prep materials, project set-up, student worksheets and grading rubrics are included. Key Press offers Engineering the Future: Science, Technology and the Design Process. This project-based curriculum exposes students to how engineers work and think, explores the basis of physical science and provides a strong foundation in physics. This book is appropriate for grades JETS Store offers career books, brochures, and multi-media to help students explore engineering. TryEngineering.org (www.tryengineering.org)is a resource for students ages 8 18, parents, teachers and school counselors. This is a portal about engineering and engineering careers. On this web site, parents, teachers, counselors and students can find: Descriptions of the lifestyles and experience of professional engineers Tips on finding and applying to schools, course selection & financial aid Lesson plans for hands-on experiments and teaching resources for educators Links to submit questions to undergraduate engineering students Engineering games on-line This web site is also available in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish! Page 7 of 9

8 JETS Explore (www.jets.org/explore) helps middle and high school students (as well as parents and educators) uncover the vast opportunities found in engineering and help them find their dream job through The Pre-Engineering Times, a free monthly e-newsletter highlighting exciting, real-world experiences and people in engineering. JETS Store, the place to find career books, brochures, and multi-media, and Explore Online, the ultimate online resource that helps students discover all things engineering (also available as a printed booklet). Zoom into Engineering is a website for kids and adults. It the televised Zoom into Engineering show. The site has fun, educational activities and on-line games. Parents and educators have access to: information on establishing a Zoom Club at your school materials to help facilitate activities volunteer opportunities And, you can subscribe to their monthly newsletter! The Engineering K12 Center seeks to identify and gather the most effective engineering education resources available to the K-12 community in one place. It has a search engine to find colleges and universities that offer engineering and a searchable database of outreach activities, as well as information on local and national pre-college engineering opportunities. The Engineer Your Life website is the centerpiece of a national campaign to encourage college bound girls to explore engineering. It allows high school girls, parents, counselors and teachers to learn more about the life and work of an engineer. COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY SPONSORED PROGRAMS Many two and four year colleges sponsor programs to interest young students in a future career in engineering. They may also host summer camps with an engineering focus. Some of these programs are free-of-charge. Academic and summer programs vary in length one day experiences to week or even month-long programs. Certain programs sponsored by a college or university may even offer scholarships or admissions consideration when students apply. These programs may also take place during the academic year for pre-college students. Most programs are run through the Dean of Students, pre-colleges or universities, or admission offices. For more information, contact your local college or university. Engineers Week is a weeklong celebration of engineering that takes place in late February. Schools register for the Future City Competition. This fun competition is designed for seventh and eighth grade students. It challenges students to present their vision of a city of the future. The Junior Science and Humanities Symposia Program (http://www.jshs.org) promotes and publicly recognizes original research and experimentation in the sciences, engineering and Page 8 of 9

9 mathematics at the high school level. It connects talented students, teachers and research professionals in an effort to widen the pool of future researchers. The JETS TEAMS competition is a high school level competition held annually in February and March. A TEAM inspires creativity, teamwork, critical thinking and valuable insight into the world of engineering and answers the age-old question, When am I ever going to use this? JETS UNITE program is a four week summer program providing a robust hands-on environment where high school students explore engineering and reinforce their math and science skills. FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (http://www.usfirst.org and are multi-national competitions founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen. They motivate young people to pursue education and careers in science, technology and engineering. If the Hydrogen Ambassador Competition (http://www.fairpr.com/hydrogenambassadors ) accepts your idea, you can win a free exhibit booth to display your concept at the Hanover Fair in Germany. This is a great opportunity to make technology contacts for a job, internship or financial support. EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES Prospective engineers should participate in extracurricular activities that are engineering related. This may include participation in the school s math and/or science club, competitions, and events. Prospective engineers may also wish to investigate professional engineering societies like these: The American Society of Civil Engineers The American Society of Mechanical Engineers The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers The Society of Women Engineers Page 9 of 9

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