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Report on the DC student career fair

A few days ago I was asked to serve as a “career representative” for IIE and SME at the 17th Annual D.C. Career Fair for DC Public and Charter High School students, December 1st at the Washington Plaza Hotel, sponsored by the DC Rotary Club.

I managed to accumulate flyers from TSA, the Technology Student Association in Reston, which has acquired the defunct JETS, the Junior Engineering Technical Society, from Joe Scheibeler, and some wonderful, informative and comprehensive 64-page IEEE magazines depicting many aspects of engineering as a career, from our friend Bill Knight at National Engineers’ Week.

Thus armed I was able to brief some 100 students, many articulate, well dressed and full of prepared, sensible questions about engineering in general, the kinds of courses needed to prepare for an engineering career, what engineers do, what they can expect to earn, how long it takes to become an engineer, what subjects they should study, and my own 50-year career experience.

Just FYI, what made the magazine, actually published by the American Society for Engineering Education, so useful, was its description of the different kinds of engineering, including:

  • stories about clothing made from corn;
  • a British plastic cell-phone body containing sunflower seeds (to urge customers to recycle the innards when no longer needed and to plant the housing;)
  • Adidas running shoes with a heel that adjusts the heel cushion while the foot is in midair, making 1000 changes per second;
  • a bridge en-route to the Riviera in France that rises 1122 feet above the river below, and that incorporates a slight curve, because a straight road would give drivers the sensation of floating;
  • such critical aspects as women in fields like automotive engineering, (since women buy 65% of the cars in the U.S.)
  • and listing average starting salaries for CE’s, ChemE’s, EE’s and MechE’s (albeit as of 2005.)

Bet you didn’t know any of these things; I didn’t.

Knowing that I can count on all of our local IIE and SME chapter members for support, I also offered all the youngsters who plan to participate in Science and Engineering Fairs, help in reviewing their planned projects.

John Baer

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