People often ask me to explain what engineers do. I always say the same thing. “Look around you.” Everything you see was designed, manufactured and delivered through the use of engineering. EVERYTHING! Not just the obvious techie sort of things like the computer on your desk or the cell phone in your hand, but the ho-hum things like the carpet on the floor, the paint on the walls, the lights overhead, and the electricity powering those lights. And I’m not only referring to the engineering required to design the products themselves. There’s even more engineering required to design the processes to make and deliver those items to you. For example, to make carpeting (designed by chemical engineers) you need a huge factory, structurally designed by civil engineers, with equipment laid out by industrial engineers, filled with machines, conveyors, forklifts, computers and controls designed by mechanical, electrical, and computer engineers. And I haven’t even gotten to what it takes to store it, transport it, and install it. All that just to make carpet? Yeah, and that is one product. Now, I ask you to look around the room you are in right now. If you really take the time to look closely, you will see hundreds, maybe thousands, of individual items; each one requiring engineering for its design and production.
Bottom line, we need engineers to produce what life demands. The sad fact is, however, we as a nation, are not producing enough engineers each year. The US produces less than 100,000 engineering BS degrees per year. That number needs to go WAY up if we are to remain competitive. To do this, kids from a very young age have to be exposed to engineering, math, and science and they need to know what engineers do. Speed School prides itself on its outstanding outreach efforts that attract thousands of elementary and high-school kids to participate in engineering camps and activities. To learn more about those programs, visit our website, http://louisville.edu/speed.
We all need to do more to fill the engineering pipeline with talented young people so that they can meet the complex needs of society in the coming decades.
John S. Usher, Associate Dean, Speed School