Time to shine the spotlight on the “E” in STEM!

The time has come to shine the spotlight on the “E” in STEM! Science, technology, engineering and math or STEM, has been a trend in education and global workforce development concerns for over 40 years. From computer science advocacy, the maker space movement and career and technical education programs, STEM has been firmly embedded. However, the engineering aspect of STEM requires further exploration. 

Engineering is more than a career. It is a mindset and way of working that can cross various industries. As a career, engineering has many levels, from engineering technology to advanced robotics, that requires different education levels but the same types of engineering-based mindsets. Exploring the various careers in engineering is at the heart of the Hour of Engineering. By inspiring young learners to learn more about engineering, we can show the exciting opportunities that exist in the wide world of engineering.

Making education accessible to all people is crucial to solving the global workforce development challenge and preparing the next generation.  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is critical to preparing future generations for successful careers. The skills gained from STEM education include technical skills and 21st Century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking.

Now, with the introduction of Hour of Engineering from Siemens, one of the largest STEM employers in the world, the “E” in STEM has a place to shine

Inform and inspire young learners

The what is engineering learning module on the Siemens Hour of Engineering site lets students explore a variety of engineering careers.

Introducing engineering concepts with Hour of Engineering is an engaging way to get students thinking about a STEM future. Hour of Engineering is designed to inform and inspire upper elementary and high school students about engineering. Helping students to build an innovative mindset with the adaptive tools to solve problems starts here!               

This resource can show students what engineering is all about and help them envision themselves in that career. Even if they find engineering isn’t for them, there is tremendous value in learning to think like an engineer. With aspects like our engineering design challenges and offline activities, students can develop habits of mind and skills they can use for the rest of their lives.  Therefore, the Hour of Engineering is essential to provide students with an inspirational perspective.

Working towards an equitable and sustainable STEM future

As a woman who started in a STEM career, I wish my story was that I developed a passion for STEM early in life, but that isn’t the case. I was guided into my education and career as an electrical engineer, but I didn’t find my passion until I switched to teaching STEM. I got lucky; my engineering career and passion for education have been very fulfilling. Still, not every student today has the same opportunity to have that exposure at a pivotal point in their lives. I believe every student should have the opportunity to explore what a career in engineering is all about, to find their passion and make an informed decision.

The Hour of Engineering is a step towards more equitable access to engineering for students. We must increase the diversity of STEM fields to ensure that we can solve humanity’s challenges and improve our world. Equity in engineering is more than just representation and diversity of thought. It is also necessary to spur innovative solutions that are sustainable for all global communities.

With an eye to sustainability, we align all engineering challenges to the UN Global Sustainability Goals or SDGs. The SDGs provide global authenticity to our STEM challenges. The SDG connection shows how participating in this activity connects with global solutions. Sharing this connection with students can connect them with the problem and its potential solution, and they are far more likely to take on the challenge and make a difference. 

Engineers have worked to make life better throughout history and will be required to do so well into the future.  Siemens goal and my own mission is to empower education to drive the development of tomorrow’s engineering workforce.

We invite you to explore Hour of Engineering, a new online resource for middle-school educators to spark students’ interest in STEM, particularly ENGINEERING!  I hope you’ll share your feedback and ideas about how you inspire STEM learning in your own classroom with me and other educators in Siemens’ online educator community.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/academic/hourofengineering-stem/