Dolores Landeck 2015-10-29 01:39:25
A fun and easy way to nurture future engineers Urged in recent years by members who want to see the Society do more to promote the profession, ASABE has expanded its efforts in pre-college STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) outreach. As a small organization, ASABE is particularly thoughtful about spending resources for STEM outreach. We look for opportunities that provide the most impact. Time and again, we’ve found that our best investment is in activities that take advantage of the enthusiasm that staff and members have for the profession. At the top of the list are opportunities that allow one-on-one engagement with students and their “influencers”—educators, advisors, parents, and mentors. That’s why DiscoverE’s Future City Competition has become a favorite. Future City is a cross-cultural program that lets students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades do the things engineers do: identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test, retest, build, and then share the results. Each year’s event begins with a theme. Last year’s was urban agriculture; this year’s is waste management. Students then research, design, and build their future city. They use SimCity to model their design. They also write a 1,500-word city description and produce a scale model, project plan, and oral presentation. Each team has an academic advisor and an engineer mentor. Future City’s focus is strictly engineering, an aspect that distinguishes it from an array of other international STEM competitions, such as FIRST robotics. Its impact is significant. The program, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015, annually serves more 40,000 students throughout the U.S. and abroad, many of them in underserved communities. It also draws a high number of girls—46% of participants in 2013 and 2014 were girls— another mark of distinction over similar programs. Students repeatedly report that Future City increases their motivation and excitement about STEM. In addition, students and teachers alike report a marked improvement in students’ public speaking, project management, and problemsolving skills and in their ability to apply math and science concepts to real-world issues. Enlightened by their Future City experience, 65% of students say they can envision becoming an engineer. More important, all participants emerge better informed about the value of engineering in improving quality of life. What does it means for you as an ASABE member? It means you have an excellent one-on-one opportunity to inform a new generation about engineering—specifically, agricultural and biological engineering. Future City is fun and rewarding for all involved, so check out the sidebar to see how you can volunteer. Dolores Landeck, ASABE Director of Public Affairs, St. Joseph, Mich., USA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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