Engineering offers plenty of opportunity to shape the world - Metro US

Engineering offers plenty of opportunity to shape the world

Metro Workology is focusing on careers and education in the engineering sector for the month of March to celebrate National Engineering Month. Check back every Wednesday.

National Engineering Month is focusing on youth this March, exploring how the children of today will “design the future” of tomorrow.

“Engineering is a draw for young people simply due to the fact that there are so many things that one can do and achieve as an engineer,” Engineers Canada’s chief executive officer Chantal Guay said in an email interview. “Young people are generally enthusiastic and full of life, having a desire to contribute and make a difference in the world.”

Events across Canada will target kids aged eight to 14, showing them how modern engineering offers careers in software, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, agriculture and forestry. Guay said good grades in high school math and science are important, but engineering also requires creativity, imagination and communication skills.

“Not only are engineers contributing to the well-being of society and the public’s quality of life, we are part of the solution to the challenges facing the country,” Guay added. “Our work goes a long way to ensure that, for instance, the public is provided with sustainable infrastructure and has the adequate technologies and the means to adapt to climate change.”

Engineers can also swing into action to provide much-needed help when disasters strike, such as the January earthquake in Haiti, or the more recent earthquake in Chile.

“Engineers’ work shapes the way we live, work and play, and students can see what they can do in the exciting world of engineering by participating in National Engineering Month activities,” Guay said.

Bruce Dunwoody, associate dean for engineering programs at the University of British Columbia, said young people drawn to engineering are strong in math and science and want to physically do something that makes a difference.

“They feel that through engineering they can have an impact on the world and help other people,” he said. He pointed Engineers Without Borders and a student who spent his summer in Africa teaching villagers how to maintain earthen dams. Others have developed and installed a “multi-functional platform,” a diesel engine that can work as a water pump or flour grinder in poorer villages.

“We see students who are keen on the environmental side, but we also see students who are drawn to mechanical engineering — the ships and planes and cars,” Dunwoody said. “There’s a lot of potential, a lot of flexibility and a lot of challenges in the job.”

Correction – March 4, 2010, 7:03 p.m. EST: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Chantal Guay as the CEO for NEM. In fact, she is the CEO of Engineers Canada.

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