WPI Engineering Ambassadors’ program, sponsored by United Technologies Corporation (UTC), engages middle and high school students in the exciting opportunities present in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field. They work together as a team to challenge conventional ideas and promote opportunities available to future generations in the engineering field.

Engineering Ambassadors engage the younger generation through middle school tours, off-campus visits to schools and organizations, and on-campus events to engage others in the excitement of engineering. Ambassadors learn to effectively communicate technical information to a wide variety of audiences, providing valuable skills in the professional field.

During the program, Ambassadors develop leadership, presentation, and project management skills for their own educational and professional development. In addition, Ambassadors receive a $1,000 stipend for their involvement and also qualify for the opportunity for a potential summer internship, plus a possible job in the future, with UTC and other sponsoring companies. 

WPI was one of the four founding schools of Engineering Ambassadors, developed in 2011 to address the challenges today’s organizations face to recruit diverse, top-notch STEM engineering talent. The WPI program has grown from an original eight Ambassadors to over 40 today. WPI is exploring ways to expand the program beyond engineering to incorporate all STEM fields.

Rita, Chemical Engineering ‘18

 

As an Engineering Ambassador, I have learned tips on how to bring creativity to the table without losing professionalism, new presentation styles that convey engineering messages better and I have gained confidence in my stage presence. The work  I do is important to me because I want to be an inspiration to students who may not know that they are capable of succeeding in a STEM field – particularly women and people of color. For these students, I become the one who makes them believe they can succeed in STEM the way that my mentors and teachers did for me.

 

Ryan, Electrical & Computer Engineering ‘18

I've loved learning about effective presentation techniques and how the way you portray your message affects how your audience interprets it. I'll never make a presentation with slides full of text again! After a year at WPI, I realized that engineering isn't all about sitting behind a computer, so Engineering Ambassadors was a great chance to practice and learn more about communicating technology to people. The work that we do is important to me because we get the chance to emphasize engineering as a discipline that relies on creativity, not just technical skill. It’s awesome that this program emphasizes to kids early on that engineering is for creative brains AND math brains.

Estefania, Chemical Engineering ‘18

As an Engineering student, I have realized that the STEM fields are a great way to make an impact on society. I became an Engineering Ambassador to help young kids realize this too. Whether in health, infrastructure, or technology, scientists and engineers are involved in making our world a better place. The work the Engineering Ambassadors do is important because I believe young kids should be encouraged to pursue careers that have such a positive impact on society. It's important for me to know that young kids are being encouraged to follow these fields and are being reassured that they are capable of being successful in them.

Jessica, Mechanical Engineering ‘18

I learned how to speak more confidently and eloquently as an Engineering Ambassador. I now understand how to translate complex scientific and engineering concepts to a variety of different people, children, and non-engineers. Besides my communication skills, my nonverbal presentation skills have increased drastically since I joined EA. So many students are turned away from science and engineering because they are discouraged from a young age. I don't want to see any child with potential think that they are not good enough. By being a part of the Engineering Ambassadors program, I can help break the barriers between engineering and these students.

Ambassadors give presentations and use hands-on activities to communicate how engineering and the STEM field is not just about strong math and science skills, but about creativity. It serves as a real eye-opener to children to learn how engineering impacts everything. A particular example involves younger kids making parachutes as part of an air-resistance demonstration.

Engineering Ambassadors meet weekly and engage in several trainings to enhance their communications and leadership skills. The first training takes place in the fall with the three partner universities: Penn State, Rensselaer, and the University of Connecticut. Trainings continue throughout the school year, incorporating tenets such as assertion-evidence slide theory, plus story structure and mapping techniques.

Most ambassadors have summer internships with sponsoring companies. Depending on the guidelines of sponsors, Ambassadors can participate in full- or part-time internship opportunities and/or co-ops during various times of the year. There are three levels of sponsorships companies can choose from for the program, and sponsors can determine guidelines to sponsor students, including major type, minimum GPAs, and more. Interested businesses or organizations can click here to learn more  about the benefits of sponsoring an Ambassador program.

As the primary sponsoring company, United Technologies Corporation offers academic stipends and summer internships for many of WPI's Ambassadors. Fees that sponsors pay go towards providing students with stipends, materials for presentations to young children, and speakers to develop the skills of Engineering Ambassadors. WPI fully funds the program manager responsible for overseeing the program.

Kids Love the Engineering Ambassadors!

"Thank you for everything. The trip, the presentation, the food. Everything was amazing, I learned so many new things. Like how to create a electromagnet." - Mariah

"I'm now excited to live on a campus instead of worried. I'm now going to make sure to continue swimming and join a few clubs along with keeping up on my work." - Parker

"Something that I thought was exciting was the tour around WPI because THE COLLEGE IS AMAZING! Also, I enjoyed the presentation on preparing for college because I want to get enrolled to WPI and I want to get ready for the challenges I face." - Jennifer

These quotes are from students who attended a Middle School tour at WPI conducted by Engineering Ambassadors.

How to Apply

Students must be a first-year or sophomore student committed to outreach with desire to to share and educate the STEM field to children. WPI looks for students that can grow and improve public speaking and leadership skills. The time commitment is comparable to that of a job or extracurricular activity. Students will be required to attend trainings and meetings, a list of which is below.

Application Requirements

  • Current first year or sophomore student (who will be a sophomore or junior during the upcoming academic year)
  • Majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, or Electrical & Computer Engineering will be given preference for some sponsors. WPI sponsored positions will consider all majors.
  • In good academic standing with a faculty endorsement
  • Available for potential summer internship with UTC, ISO New England, or Morpho Detection
  • Preference is given to applicants who are female and/or identify as part of an underrepresented minority, but all candidates are encouraged to apply
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

Required Trainings and Meetings

  • Mondays from 6:00-8:00pm: Weekly meetings throughout the academic year for Ambassadors to practice presentation skills and develop camaraderie.
  • September 14-17, 2017: Required regional training workshop at UConn with partner universities from the Engineering Ambassador Network.
  • October 18-22, 2017: Communications workshop to help Ambassadors get to know one another, bond as a group, and learn to manage successful hands-on classroom activities with youth.
  • January 9, 2018: Activity Training Workshop 

Applications for the 2017-2018 academic year are now available. Please Apply Here. Contact Jenna-Noel Grinshteyn, Program Manager, by email or at 508-831-4900 with any questions.

A national Engineering Ambassador Network website links programs nationwide and can help participants with networking and job opportunities. If there are several WPI Engineering Ambassadors working at a particular company, current students can feel confident they will be strongly considered for a position at that company in the future.

Being an [EA] was one of [my] most rewarding experiences... I saw my communication skills improve. Our activities show[ed K-12 students] how they could impact communities in ways that most of them never imagined.
Emily Miner
WPI '14
American Society of Mechanical Engineers, “Next Generation of Engineers”