WPI’s team of engineering ambassadors has a singular mission – to promote engineering ideas and engineering as a career to local middle- and high school students. But while they’re spreading the word about something they love, they’re gaining invaluable experience, too.
The Engineering Ambassadors (EA) program started at Penn State in 2009 and soon earned United Technologies Corporation’s sponsorship. Eventually it blossomed into a collaboration with WPI, Rensselaer,, and the University of Connecticut to expose younger students to engineering and encourage the next crop of engineering grads. National Grid also sponsors WPI ambassadors to support outreach and education for its Smart Energy Solutions Program, a smart grid pilot in Worcester.
Ambassadors, who earn a stipend for their roles, break down technical information into something that younger kids can both relate to and get excited about. Using messages from the National Academy of Engineering’s Changing the Conversation report, the ambassadors give presentations and use hands-on activities to share their enthusiasm with younger kids, says Lynn McElholm, program manager. For example, they show how engineering encourages creativity in everyone, not just those who are particularly strong in math and science.