The dominant narrative about STEM education in the United States is that other countries do a better job than we do at teaching youngsters about science, technology, engineering, and math. My own opinion on this differs, but that’s a column for another day. What’s curious is that while we denigrate our K-12 STEM education, we take pride that our college and university engineering programs are highly touted and the envy of students around the world.
ASME has had a strong and clear voice in the ongoing discussion about building competence in all stages of the engineering workforce pipeline. The Society’s initiatives in this area have been significant, extending from in-classroom programs meant to inspire youngsters in middle school and high school to others at the college level. ASME also works with a network of university engineering department heads and with ABET, the post-secondary engineering accreditation board, to ensure rigor in engineering curricula.
This year, ASME introduced a novel program for college students called E-Fests, short for Engineering Festivals.
The marketing tagline for E-Fests is, “Party like an engineer.” Engineers may be recognized more for how well they solve problems than for how well they party, but at E-Fests they get to do both. E-Fests bring together students from around the world to college campuses for a weekend of music, fun activities, giveaways, networking opportunities, career development, and competitions. Two programs were held in March—one at the LNM Institute of Information Technology in Jaipur, India, and the other at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A third event was hosted by Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville in April.
These events were anchored around regional ASME student competitions: the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, the Student Design Competition, the Innovative Additive Manufacturing 3D Challenge, and the Old Guard Competitions.
“E-Fests is an ambitious program built to benefit hundreds of student engineers, said ASME Past President Keith Roe. “We want to help motivate these young men and women. They are the future technology leaders, the ones who will drive innovation.”
Support for E-Fests comes from the ASME Foundation and from industry. “We are very appreciative of the support we have received from many participating sponsors,” Roe said.
“To support the development of a strong, well-trained design, engineering, and manufacturing workforce, it’s important for industry to partner with academia and organizations like ASME in events like E-Fests,” said John Miller, senior vice president of mainstream engineering software for Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Digital Factory Division. “We are very excited to be part of these events and to continue to motivate students in engineering excellence.” Siemens is the platinum sponsor of the inaugural events.
The party at E-Fests is just the beginning. The real celebration happens when the students graduate and start on their career paths. Arguably, there’s never been a better time to be an engineer. We’re reminded of this every time we look up and notice the remarkable footprint the profession is having on the world.
As we embark on the second year of this global engineering festival, the E-fest.org platform will explore innovation and creativity to better prepare students to become part of the diverse and multidisciplinary engineering community upon graduation and begin a successful career.
Reprinted from Mechanical Engineering magazine.
John G. Falcioni, Editor-in-Chief, Mechanical Engineering Magazine