With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, engineering practices and careers are going to become much more common topics in science classrooms and programs. Here are five resources that you can use to introduce your students to a multitude of different engineering jobs, career pathways and people working in the field. And, for those of you who are thinking that it is too early to be talking careers with your students, consider that research shows that students who start thinking about college in middle school and early high school are more likely to go to college.
One way to introduce the topic is by focusing on the engineering design process. Our Engineering Is e-book collection explores STEM topics and careers through stories of real-world problems being solved by engineers around the globe, like designing a $1 microscope that helps diagnose diseases in developing countries or engineering a way to study new fish species from the ocean’s twilight zone.
Once your students are motivated to become the next great inventors, this list of resources will provide useful information for your students and yourself because, let’s face it, who doesn’t need a refresher on exactly what it is a forest engineer does?
Science and Engineering Career Spotlight video series (KQED)
This collection of short videos, each feature a scientist or engineer and their awesome work. As a bonus, the scientists talk about how the work they do relates to broader topics such as climate change, water resources and biofuels, making it very easy to integrate the videos into lessons on those topics.
Engineering Careers (DiscoverE)
Formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation, DiscoverE’s site contains everything from basic information on job responsibilities, to listings of lowest, highest and median incomes for specific jobs, to suggested high school courses to take to get students prepared for those career paths. They also list examples of nifty projects that engineers work on, like a material scientist working to enhance the handling ability of skis and snowboards. Find some inspiration in these projects to create an engineering challenge for your students!
EngineerGirl (National Academy of Engineering)
EngineerGirl is a website developed specifically for female middle school students who are interested in becoming engineers. Its whimsical and colorful interface leads to interviews with female engineers, videos on historically important female scientists, information on career paths, and competitions and contests to get students’ creative juices flowing. You can use some of these competitions, like the Future Engineers’ design challenge, as a way to bring project-based learning activities into your classroom.
Egfi (American Society for Engineering Education)
Well suited for middle school students, this website is full of great graphics and lots of animation. It contains information about where engineers can be expected to work and what they do day-to-day. They also have a student blog where cool inventions by engineering students are featured!
Cornerstone Center Career Podcasts
This podcast series, available for download on iTunes, is ideal for the teacher who wants to be more in the know about different engineering jobs, expected salaries and job responsibilities. There are more than 70 episodes, ranging from about 10-20 minutes long, making them perfect for listening to on a commute to school.