Outreach Emphasis on the Human Impact Potential of Engineering Improves Perceptions of Underrepresented Groups
Systems and Industrial Engineering
Emphasizing the social good of engineering at the K−12 level could increase participation in engineering, especially among some traditionally underrepresented groups in the engineering field. This article outlines and evaluates the impacts of an outreach program designed to increase exposure to the diversity of careers available to engineering graduates and to the potential to make a positive impact in the world by choosing to major in engineering. The outreach was designed and implemented by an engineering technology faculty member in partnership with undergraduate students enrolled in various engineering technology degree programs at her university. Teams visited local high schools with an interactive presentation followed by hands-on projects for the students to complete. The projects focused on engineering a better life, engineering for underdeveloped countries, and engineering to help the environment. Students were surveyed before and after the visit to measure changes in their perceptions of engineering. The results are very favorable, with statistically significant increases in the percentage of students saying they are "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to "choose engineering as a career." These results support inclusion of such outreach projects at other universities as a way to attract students from underrepresented groups to engineering.
Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Scherrer, Christina R., "Outreach Emphasis on the Human Impact Potential of Engineering Improves Perceptions of Underrepresented Groups" (2013). Faculty Publications. 3649.