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Communicating about Engineering. DAVID BOWKER, PURDUE UNIVERSITY. overview. Definitions of Engineering Engineering Demographics Engineering Functions Myths about Engineers Conceptual Framework Questions and Discussion. Okay, you tell us…. WHAT DO ENGINEERS ACTUALLY DO?

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communicating about engineering

Communicating about Engineering


  • Definitions of Engineering
  • Engineering Demographics
  • Engineering Functions
  • Myths about Engineers
  • Conceptual Framework
  • Questions and Discussion
okay you tell us
Okay, you tell us…
  • (Take a few minutes to brainstorm here…we’ve got time!)

What Do Engineers Do?

Source: Harris Poll, December 2003


Contributing To Society

Source: Harris Poll, December 2003

why is engineering important
Why Is Engineering Important?

“Engineers have a hand in designing, creating, or modifying nearly everything we touch, wear, eat, see, and hear in our daily lives.”

- American Society of Engineering Education

what do engineers actually do
What do engineers actually do?
  • Endoscopes
  • Automobiles
  • The flush toilet
  • Google
  • Email
  • Air conditioning
  • iPods
  • Solar power
  • Bionic limbs
  • Incubators
  • Clean water
  • Bridges
  • Cleaning up the Gulf after the oil spill
  • Solar power
  • Cell phones and computers
  • MLB schedule
  • artificial organs
  • biodegradable plastic
what do engineers actually do1
What do engineers actually do?

Melt-a-way Cupcake Liners

what is engineering
What is engineering?

Or: what isn’t engineering?

what is engineering1
What is engineering?
  • More brainstorming—who does engineering? How do you define engineering?
what is engineering2
What is engineering?
  • Application of
      • Problem-solving skills
      • Creativity, intuition
      • Math, science, technology
      • Engineers are problem solvers who search for quicker, better, and less
  • expensive ways to use the forces and materials of nature to meet today’s
  • challenges.
  • The application of creativity and teamwork using Math and science principles as tools to solve problems
  • Develop real-world solutions which impact various areas of medicine, business, law, music, environment, nutrition, education …
  • Engineers are changing the world all the time. They dream up creative, practical solutions and work with other smart, inspiring people to invent, design, and build things that matter[
what is engineering3
What is engineering?
  • In every major you learn core skill sets, such as:
  • Problem-identifying and problem-solving
  • Project Management
  • Design and innovation
  • Global perspective and ethics
  • Political Sensitivity
  • Team dynamics and communication
  • Predicting Performance
  • Adapting to Change
  • Learning to learn
what is engineering5
What is engineering?
  • Environmental
  • Industrial
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials
  • Mechanical
  • Nuclear
  • Ocean
  • Operations Research
  • Petroleum
  • Aerospace
  • Agricultural
  • Architectural
  • Biological
  • Biomedical
  • Chemical
  • Civil
  • Computer
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical

















engineering demographics
Engineering demographics

Or: who are the engineers, anyway?

the knack
“The Knack”


myths about engineers
Myths about engineers
  • Nerdy
  • Guys
  • Love math/science only
  • Grinds
  • Narrow field
  • Solitary
  • Repetitious
  • Boring/not creative
why do we need more engineers anyway
Why do we need more engineers, anyway?
  • Aging population of Engineers
  • Reduction in students choosing engineering
  • Global Competition
  • Big challenges to solve
  • The integration of Technology into all things!
conceptual framework
Conceptual framework

Or: how to spot a fledgling engineer

conceptual framework identification
Conceptual framework: Identification
  • Creative students with math and science aptitude (think “Top Chef” and knife skills)
  • Broad Definition of Diversity
  • Geographic, Ethnicity, Gender, Interests, Thought Process, Dance Moves, etc
  • Why Diversity is Important
  • Great career for all
  • Team should be represented with folks who use products
  • We need more engineers
  • Diversity = innovation  better solutions
conceptual framework career benefits
Conceptual framework: career benefits
  • Broad opportunities
  • Making a difference
  • Salary
  • Variety
  • Travel
conceptual framework new honesty
Conceptual framework: “new” honesty

Old Perception

“Real” Deal

Great fit for a variety of people

Right fit

Retention is better than most

Do we want it easy??

  • EN isn’t for everyone
  • Weed out
  • Retention horrible
  • It is hard
engineering as a career
Engineering as a career??
  • What students want
  • Enjoying what I do
  • Good working environment
  • Making a difference
  • Good income
  • Flexibility
  • Engineering Community
  • It’s a challenge
  • Go for it! It’s difficult, but rewarding
  • Use math and science to solve problems
conceptual framework new honesty1
Conceptual framework: “new” honesty

Old communication

New Communication

“the application of creativity and teamwork using Math and science principles as tools to solve problems”

“Because your dreams need doing.”

“Turning ideas into reality”

“Engineers make the world better”

  • “Use math and science to solve problems”
  • “Go into engineering if you’re good in math and science.”
  • “It’s really hard, but worth it.”
  • “Engineering is hard – you need confidence to get through.

When describing why to be an MD is the first thought you have to be good at anatomy and physiology?

conceptual framework resources
Conceptual framework: resources
  • Engineer Your Life
  • Try Engineering
  • Pathways to Science
  • Engineering, Go For It! (eGFI)

Or: let’s chat it out!