Engineers Week

Discover what engineers contribute to society

February 17, 2014
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Want to see firsthand how engineers provide solutions to real-world challenges and improve the quality of life around the globe? Then be sure to check out National Engineers Week at WPI, a five-day event designed to bring engineering to life through hands-on activities and special programming, Feb. 17–21, 9 am to 4 pm.

Established by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, the event highlights the positive contributions engineers make to society. It is observed by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, along with over 50 corporations and government agencies.

Activities scheduled for the week include demonstrations, information sessions, campus tours, and engineering ambassadors sessions in which a group of WPI students share the excitement of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields with younger students.

Special programs, such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, engineering professional development for educators, and engineering laboratory tours, are also on tap.

“Engineering is what we were founded on…”

David Cyganski, professor of electrical and computer engineering and dean of engineering ad interim, says the event is an excellent opportunity for the WPI community and their families to gain a better understanding of what engineers do.

“Engineering as a discipline is such a great career option for students, but often not enough students know or understand what it means to be an engineer,” says Cyganski. “They are not aware of all of the exciting opportunities engineering presents―in particular the opportunity to make a difference in the health, happiness, and safety of others. ”

Participating in Engineers Week is important to the university, he adds, because about 60 percent of WPI students are studying some engineering discipline. “Engineering is what we were founded on, and while we have diversified nicely into other areas, engineering remains our largest academic program.”

The daily activities will take place across campus, with engineering demonstrations in the Campus Center, and laboratory tours set for Goddard Hall and Gateway Park.  Among the many planned demonstrations are a kite-powered water pump, 3D printing, an autonomous golf cart, and virus removal in drinking water.

Aimed at girls in grades 3–5, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is designed to encourage interest in engineering and sciences and help increase the number of women in those fields. The program is free and available on a first-registered, first-served basis. The online registration form can be accessed here.

During the engineering ambassadors sessions, students will give a presentation that explains how they selected engineering as a career field, what influenced them when they were younger, and what their experience at WPI has been like so far. The full schedule of activities can be viewed here.

Cyganski says this is the second year of Engineers Week in this format at WPI. It is being coordinated by the Office of the Dean of Engineering in collaboration with the Admissions Office, Corporate and Professional Education, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, K–12 Outreach, and University Marketing and Communications. He adds that engineering student organizations and honor societies are also involved.

Cyganski believes being part of a national celebration affords an opportunity to spotlight engineering and educate the public about what engineers do, and the projects and undertakings in which WPI students and faculty members are currently involved.

“Hopefully, folks will come away with a much better understanding of the role of engineers in their everyday lives,” he says.

BY MIKE D’ONOFRIO

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