Exposure to engineering raises teens’ career interest in subject

9 Dec 2011

Exposing most teenagers to any facts about engineering makes them more likely to consider engineering as a career, an Intel survey of 1,004 US teenagers ages 13-18 suggests.

A lack of familiarity with the profession is a barrier to teenagers pursing engineering careers but their exposure to facts about engineering, including the breadth of what engineers actually do and, specifically, how much money they earn, leads more than half of teens to say they are more likely to consider engineering as a career, the survey Intel conducted in collaboration with the non-profit Change the Equation revealed.

Roughly 60pc of teens are more likely to consider engineering after learning about the career’s earning potential (an average annual income of US$75,000).

The majority of teens are also influenced by understanding what engineers do, such as playing a role in rescuing the Chilean miners who were trapped in 2010, delivering clean water to poor communities in Africa, designing the protective pads worn by athletes and constructing dams and levees that keep cities safe.

Planting the seeds of interest in engineering early

Intel believes that nurturing an interest in engineering in high school, or earlier, is a critical step to building a healthy pool of students poised to graduate with engineering degrees.

“The results of this survey show the importance of providing teens with opportunities to gain knowledge about engineering,” said Intel CIO Diane Bryant.

“We need to offer teens real-world, hands-on engineering experience and interaction with engineers, like that found in robotics programmes and science competitions, to improve the likelihood that they’ll get hooked on the subject and pursue it in college.”

The survey results also showed that while most teens (63pc) have not considered a career in engineering, those that have (74pc) are motivated by their perception that it will be interesting.

When it comes to actual engineering jobs, 29pc of teens don’t know of potential job opportunities in engineering and 13pc don’t think that majoring in engineering in college will lead to any more job opportunities than any other major.

Twenty per cent of teens have no idea about engineering’s impact on the world, but most teens are influenced by learning about the breadth of what engineers actually do.

Fifty-three per cent of teens are more likely to consider engineering after learning about engineers’ role in the development of music and video games and 50pc are influenced by understanding that engineers make driving, texting and social networking possible.

More than half (52pc) of teens will think twice about an engineering career after learning about engineering feats, such as the rescue of the miners in Chile who were trapped for 69 days.

Engineering careers

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