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Houston Branch Member Liza Kirk Blog
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Inspiring Future Engineers


 

Elizabeth (Liza) H. Kirk PE

Houston Branch Member and CECON Marketing Co-Chair


 

What first inspired you to become an engineer? Was there an engineer in your family? Did an engineer come talk to your school? Did you have the opportunity to follow an engineer for a day? Or did you just have the knack and were driven to find engineering as a career option?

I am lucky as my father is a mechanical engineer, and he shared his propensity for solving problems. Whether it was helping with my math homework or fixing the vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, or whatever machinery was broken.

My dad opened my eyes to a world that many do not even know exists.


As I am writing this article, Engineers Week approaches. Our country’s founding father, George Washington, is considered to be this country’s first engineer, by practice if not degree. Engineers Week (E-Week) is celebrated during the week surrounding his birthday, February 22. During E-Week, we honor leaders in the engineering community, both young stars rising in the industry and those well-established who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the community.

DiscoverE
, formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation, has established various programs to promote and support engineering and technology. Through these programs, we can give back to our community and grow the future of engineering by sharing our passion for engineering with the public, specifically K-12 education.

This year, ASCE in partnership with Bechtel, produced the Dream Big IMAX movie that premieres at IMAX theaters and museums around the country at the start of E-Week. This is an awe inspiring and positive film with real engineers! How often do we see engineers in mainstream entertainment? Unfortunately, not very often. As a result, students are unfamiliar with the excitement and ingenuity that engineering provides.

As engineers, we should share our joy of STEM with students in K-12 to ensure our future growth as an industry and a people. E-Week is not the only time for this outreach; we should continue our efforts year-round, when any opportunity arises. The idea is to spark their interest at a young age that will then continue to grow and illuminate their world.

A K-12 STEM outreach program is just budding at Forterra Building Products Jersey Village Plant. In January, I shared my passion for infrastructure and concrete pipe with a group of students from Klein Collins High School in the greater Houston area. The students enjoyed this job-shadowing visit despite rain, flooding, and resultant bad traffic. Thanks to the rain, the observant students made my job of describing the “invisible underworld“ comprising many Forterra products much easier. The students even got some hands-on experience with the dry-cast concrete mixture when touring the pipe and box plants. I hope that I inspired a few of them to pursue engineering.

This was a great opportunity to demonstrate how integral engineers are to things the students see and touch every day. What will you be inspired to do for your K-12 STEM outreach? Share your ideas and let’s grow the future of engineering together!

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