The American Engineering Alliance (AEA) unveiled a major initiative at the AEA Annual Social Event on March 5, 2009. This initiative, the “Student Outreach Program”, will attempt to engage Engineering students, their Professors and Deans with Engineering Practitioners on a permanent and regular basis. Its goal is to introduce these young students to the Engineering Profession and thus initiate a formal process of molding future Engineers while at the same time bridging the gap that presently exists between Academia and the world of practicing Engineers.
This is an ambitious goal but one that needs to be done. The future of the Profession will depend on how well the Engineering and Academic Communities can work together to shape the future leaders and practitioners of the Engineering Profession.
As Engineering Professionals, we have an ethical obligation to help improve our Profession so that we can pass it on to the next generation of Engineers in a much better shape than we found it. AEA, as well as other Engineering entities and prominent individuals*, has come to the realization that if we want to elevate the stature of our Profession, we have to address the education of our young Engineers. This education formally starts in the Engineering school. It is here at this crucial stage of the development of our future Engineers that we can have the greatest impact.
If we can succeed in imparting the right set of skills and the principles of professionalism, as well as a sense of pride in their chosen Profession, then we can be assured that the Engineering Profession will remain a viable and potent force in the life of the nation. We owe this duty to the students, to the Profession and ultimately to Society.
AEA is totally committed to making this “Student Outreach Program” a success. However, we cannot do it alone. The resources required are beyond our present capabilities. Therefore, we are launching an appeal to our sister Societies to join us in this noble endeavor. Initially, we will require a commitment of time from potential volunteers from the various Engineering Societies. Later we can look at some financial contributions as the need arises in order to expand operations.
Our vision is to set up a network of committed volunteers who will provide the continuity necessary to make the program successful. They will manage a program which includes:
- Joint Committees of Faculty and Practicing Engineers to coordinate academic measures to orient students into the Profession
- Coordinating presentations by Practicing Engineers to various Engineering Schools
- Establishing and coordinating the guidance of active student organizations sponsored by the various Engineering Societies.
To assist in these initiatives, we will establish a “Speakers’ Bureau” composed of Engineers from Government, Industry and the Consulting Engineering community. These Engineers will be available to give presentations to students in their classroom or other venues. The subject of these presentations will cover ethics, professional issues, the global marketplace, the role of Engineers in Society and other topics deemed relevant in today’s constantly evolving landscape. These presentations or lectures will educate our students on those important “soft skills” that are so critical for success in today’s fast paced environment as well as informing them of the issues and challenges that face our Profession. We will also organize a pool of volunteer mentors to maintain contact and provide guidance to student organizations.
To ensure the success of the “Student Outreach Program” we ask that each participating Engineering Society initially provide a minimum of two volunteers. These volunteers will form the core group that will develop the expanding organization and initially coordinate and facilitate the work of the Speakers’ Bureau. Each Engineering Society will also be encouraged to propose potential speakers. AEA will organize the cadre of volunteers that will provide organizational support for the “Student Outreach Program” which will include compiling the list of speakers, maintaining a database and other records necessary to support the program.
If the New York City Engineering Community can come together and make the “Student Outreach Program” a success, this program can become a model for the rest of the country. If we can make it happen in New York, it can succeed anywhere!
Please join us in this long-term project to revitalize our Profession and re-establish its pre-eminence among the learned professions.
American Engineering Alliance:
Salvatore Galletta, PE Brian Gill, PE Lou Comunelli, PE
917-575-8060 917-287-4647 917-681-1177
* NOTE: For an excellent discussion of the need for Engineering Education reform, read: “The 21st Century Engineer: A Proposal for Engineering Education Reform” by Patricia D. Galloway, Ph.D., P.E., ASCE Press