On Monday, October 21st, the Executive Office of Education and the STEM Advisory Council kicked off the second annual Massachusetts STEM Week. This year’s theme was “See Yourself in Engineering,” which aimed to boost the interest, awareness, and ability for all learners – particularly women, people of color, first-generation students, low-income individuals, English language learners, and people with disabilities – to envision themselves in STEM education and employment opportunities! As part of our commitment to expanding STEM opportunities for students who are underrepresented in the engineering industry, Nitsch Engineering was happy to participate in a few activities !
In a world where the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress predicts that the nation will need one million more STEM professionals than it can produce in the next decade, it is critical to build a pipeline of STEM professionals who can close this skills gap. Underrepresented groups – those who have lower representation in the industry than they have in the US population – provide an excellent opportunity for growth! According to the 2019 Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering report from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, the engineering industry, where only 15.5% of engineers are female (50.8% of population), 8.3% are Hispanic or Latino (17.6% of population), and 3.6% are Black or African American (12.7% of population).
Leading up to STEM Week, Project Manager Jared Gentilucci, PE, CPESC, LEED AP BD+C, attended Designing My Future: STEM Career Night for Youth and Families on Wednesday, October 16th in Worcester. The event was organized with a goal of accessibility, allowing anyone with an interest in developing a career in STEM to connect directly with industry professionals. The opportunity to discuss the day-to-day of a career in STEM and the pathway to success in the industry provides encouragement to individuals with less opportunity to begin a career in the field.
During this event, which was organized by the WPI STEM Education Center and Worcester Public Schools and hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester, Jared set up a booth to share what we do as engineers with both kids and parents. Jared showcased some of our field equipment (smart level, measuring wheels) and safety gear (hard hat, vest), and led a hands-on activity where kids could build a bridge out of toothpicks and marshmallows!
During STEM Week, our partnership with the United Way’s BoSTEM program led to our participation in three activities in Boston. On Monday, October 21st, Transportation Project Designer Ted Presume, ENV SP, presented at the STEM Week Kickoff at Rapid 7’s office, which was attended by representatives from Mayor Walsh’s office, Boston Public Schools (BPS), and the Secretary of Education.
Ted shared his story of finding STEM as a tool to initiate change. He talks of his experiences in his home country of Haiti, where he lived during the 2010 earthquake, and feeling inspired to prevent widespread disasters. Ted’s talk sets an example of how STEM can provide an avenue for young people seeking to make an impact on their environment, which highlights the importance of making the field of STEM accessible to a more diverse group. Ted talked further about how he was inspired to become an engineer, and his education path that included BPS. You can read more about Ted’s presentation on the United Way blog.
On Thursday, October 24th, Ted and Vice President Gary Pease, PE, LEED AP, presented What Do Engineers Do? to a 6th Grade Science class at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown. This presentation included a summary of what civil engineers (including transportation and structural engineers) do in the real world, and what a “typical” day is like for a young civil engineer; they then dove a little deeper into the science and engineering related to the concepts of stormwater management.
On Saturday, October 26th, Ted and Gary staffed a table (shown in the photo in this post) at the BPS’ Discover STEM Expo at the Reggie Lewis Center Gym in Roxbury. They greeted several STEM-interested students, introducing them to what we do and challenging them to build the tallest structure possible out of plastic cups!
We’re thrilled that, over the course of these two weeks, we had the opportunity to reach hundreds of students, as well as educators and advocates, to help boost interest in engineering!