The National Academy of Engineering believes it could boost the number of engineering graduates by leveraging Generation Y's ideology. But is it enough?
Last week we asked readers whether getting an MBA would improve their engineering career prospects. The response, both for and against, was overwhelming. (You can catch a recap of some of that discussion here in the comments section, and it’s never too late to add your two cents, so let us know what you think.)
This week I want to know how valuable you feel work experience is for new engineers, and whether trying your hand at some "ideological" engineering might offer a boost to both your job prospects and morale.
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"We have done a miserable job, by and large, of explaining just how engineering is essential and can change the world," said National Academy of Engineering (NAE) chief Charles Vest, in a recent interview in USA Today.
Vest and others are now recommending that young engineers spend less time in a classroom and more time in the field tackling real-world problems like delivering energy, food, clean air and water to the world's billions.
"This is an idealistic generation, despite everything going on in the economy, and they want to help people," Vest said. "We have to get them out of the lecture hall and show them how engineers do just that," he added.
Currently, just 4.5 percent of U.S. college graduates are engineers, with Europe posting a slightly higher 12 percent and Asia turning out 21 percent.
The NAE believes it could boost the number of engineering graduates by leveraging Generation Y’s ideology, and has launched the Grand Challenges Scholars Program to appeal to the spirit of today’s youth.
The program, sponsored by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, is designed to prepare students to solve the Grand Challenges facing society. It identifies 14 subject areas requiring immediate engineering attention, ranging from "preventing nuclear terror" to "reverse-engineering the human brain."
The project’s goals are defined as "enhancing student interest in engineering and science, increasing the visibility and importance of engineering and science to society, underscoring the importance of recognizing that engineering education must be coupled to policy/business/law and must be student-focused."
The NAE is also hoping that the program will enhance student interest in engineering, science, and technology entrepreneurship while fomenting future collaborations of interested scientists, engineers, policy makers and researchers to successfully address complex societal issues.
What do you think, readers? Will the lure of ideology attract the next generation’s brightest minds to the profession? Would this type of program prove an enticing sabbatical option for more seasoned engineers? And is it enough? Let us know, we love hearing from you.