a grassroots effort to spread the word about engineering careers
K-12 students and teachers interested in learning more about engineering as a career now have a new option for first-hand information—connect2engineering. This all-volunteer initiative was developed by a coalition of representatives from engineering companies, non-profit organizations and educational institutions in the Midwest – primarily in Nebraska and Iowa.
The initial idea for a cooperative program began with engineers at Kiewit in Omaha, who reached out to the UNL College of Engineering and The Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, along with Iowa State University and other area schools. One of the main goals is to encourage women and underrepresented students to consider engineering careers, especially with a looming shortage of engineers throughout the industry.
Since its inception in the summer of 2010, the coalition membership has grown to include numerous Omaha K-12 schools, several engineering organizations, and corporate sponsors Kiewit, Johnson Controls and Omaha Public Power District.
Middle school students get hands-on learning with model bridges while visiting the UNL College of Engineering.
A main initiative of connect2engineering is to pair working engineers with schools and students to offer their advice and expertise concerning learning about different careers, hosting events, helping with science/math/engineering competitions, mentoring, job shadowing, and other services. Engineers in the Omaha area have volunteered to work with schools, who can go to the connect2engineering website and match their interest with the engineers’ profiles. The programs volunteers have also attended area career fairs and other school functions to talk about the initiative and entice teachers and students to become more involved.
While connect2engineering is currently primarily in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area, the coalition wants to expand this outreach to other cities and states. The initiative is seeking additional funding so it can provide more resources to students and teacher to continue to grow the program, as well as more volunteers and other information.
Find out more about the connect2engineering initiative: www.connect2engineering.com.