Tag: Engineers Week

Engineers Week: Girl Day

Girl Day Engineers Week

It’s no secret that there is an underrepresentation of females in the field of engineering. Here at Hoyle, Tanner, we recognize diversity and inclusion as an instrumental part of making sure we are developing the best solutions to our region’s challenges. That is why we are participating in Girl Day, a recognized day of Engineers Week that is specifically geared toward generating awareness and educating young females about the opportunities available to them within the industry.

In 2015, women made up roughly 47 percent of the workforce but only 24 percent were working in STEM careers. Studies from Engineer Your Life & Changing the Conversation indicate that the lack of female interest and presence in the field may be due to the fact that many girls:

  • Do not know what engineering is
  • Think engineers must be exceptional at both math and science
  • Believe engineering is difficult and challenging

The gender gap in the industry can also be attributed to a matter of confidence. Studies show that when asked to assess their math abilities, female students tend to report lower capabilities despite equal levels of class achievement compared to their male counterparts.

There are many ways to encourage young girls to learn more about engineering, whether it be hosting events at your firm, visiting classrooms, or providing extensive access to role models or mentors within the field. However, if we are going to be successful in closing the gap and boosting the number of female engineers in future generations, we need to shift the focus of the conversation.

According to Discover Engineering, the only way to change young women’s thoughts about engineering is to change the way we talk about engineering. It is important to explain to young women that there is no “type” of person who becomes an engineer, and that a potential successful engineer does not necessarily have to be someone who “excels at math and science.” Instead, leaders of the women in the engineering movement suggest we begin to define a good engineer as someone who:

  • Is creative and imaginative
  • Likes to collaborate with others
  • Is curious and persistent
  • Wants to make a difference
  • Enjoys solving problems

By participating in Girl Day, we at Hoyle, Tanner hope to play our part in encouraging young women to study engineering. As a firm, we are proud to celebrate our female engineers and recognize how diverse minds at work help to increase the success of our projects.

Written by Grace Mulleavey

Act Like a President, Think Like an Engineer

Presidents Graphic

The majority of our nation’s past presidents came from an academic or professional background — such as law, writing or education — rather than a technical or scientific one. In honor of President’s Day and as the kick-off to this year’s annual Engineers Week, we are celebrating five unique presidents who proved to have minds for engineering.

George Washington – (Presidency: April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797)
Most famous for being the first President of the United States and cutting down cherry trees, many people are not aware that amongst George Washington’s many talents was a knack for both geography and cartography. In fact, Washington spent his early professional career as a surveyor before some of his more distinguished endeavors as a business man, war hero and president. History shows that when serving as a military officer during the revolutionary war, Washington preferred to create his own field sketches as opposed to having them drawn up for him.

Thomas Jefferson – (Presidency: March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809)
Perhaps one of the most famous and influential figures in United States history, our third president, Thomas Jefferson, certainly thought like an engineer. Although classicism was his official expertise, Jefferson is often celebrated as America’s first great native-born architect. Even more impressively, Jefferson was self-made, gaining all of his architectural knowledge from books because of the lack of schools in colonial Virginia. Evidence of our founding father’s talent can be seen at the University of Virginia, or the state capitol building in Richmond, Virginia (both of which he designed). Jefferson’s work is uniquely American and still influences modern day architecture.

Abraham Lincoln – (Presidency: March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865)
Most famous for abolishing slavery, our 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln is known as both a successful lawyer and politician. However, most people are not aware that Lincoln spent a great deal of time studying mathematics, which qualified him for his early career as a land surveyor. In fact, in fall 1833 Lincoln spent countless days and nights pouring over texts such as Gibson’s Theory and Practice of Surveying and Flint’s Treatise on Geometry, Trigonometry, and Rectangular Surveying, both of which prepared him for making measurements in the field.

Herbert Hoover – (Presidency: March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933)
President Hoover is the only president who had an official background in engineering. In 1985, he graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor degree in mining engineering. Before winning the presidential election by a landslide in 1928, Herbert Hoover had a colorful career. The 31st president of the United States built his foundation working around the world on mining and railway projects, participating as a member of several war boards and councils and also serving as the Chairman of the American relief administration engaged in children’s relief in Europe. President Hoover greatly enjoyed his work as an engineer and spoke of the profession in high regard.

“It is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.”

Jimmy Carter – (Presidency: January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981)
Next to President Hoover, Jimmy Carter is the second closest of all 45 presidents to have an official background in engineering. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology for one year before enrolling in the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis where he received a Bachelor of Science degree and became a submariner. While serving as a submariner in Schenectady, New York, he took graduate classes at Union College in reactor technology and nuclear physics. Carter served in the United States Navy for seven years on nuclear submarines. In fact, Carter was preparing to become the engineering officer in 1953 for the Seawolf before he abruptly resigned in the event of his father’s passing. Carter’s love for engineering is evident in the years following his presidency through his extensive work for Habitat for Humanity.

Written by Grace Mulleavey

Happy National Engineers Week!

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Engineers Week Poster

(Image courtesy of DiscoverE.)

In the United States, National Engineers Week is always the week in February which encompasses George Washington’s actual birthday, February 22; President Washington is considered the nation’s first engineer. It is observed by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. The purpose of National Engineers Week is to call attention to the contributions to society that engineers make. It is also a time for engineers to emphasize the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills.

This year’s theme, “Engineers: Inspiring Wonder,” is a call to recognize the people who create today’s awe-inspiring wonders like cloud-busting skyscrapers and human travel to Mars. Our lives would be very different without daily marvels like clean drinking water, computers, and cars.

Over the next week, we will:

  • Celebrate President’s Day and kick off Engineers Week;
  • Share the passion our employees have for engineering;
  • Visit a local high school to demonstrate the skills engineers use every day;
  • Celebrate Girl Day, a worldwide campaign to introduce girls to the fascinating world of engineering by vising a local Girls, Inc.; and
  • Attend the Engineer’s Week Banquet to celebrate the 2018 NH Engineer and Young Engineer of the Year.

For additional information on engineering or Engineers Week, we encourage you to visit http://www.discovere.org/our-programs/engineers-week

Girl Day

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In honor of Girl Day, a recognized day of Engineers Week, I had the pleasure of speaking to three Hoyle, Tanner engineers about their careers: Karen J. Frink, P.E.; Audrey G. Beaulac, P.E., CPSWQ; and Jillian A. Semprini, P.E. While Engineers Week is a time to celebrate the industry and engage in topics such as engineering education and awareness, Girl Day is specifically geared toward introducing the industry to females, who tend to be underrepresented in this fascinating and essential field.

Karen, Audrey, and Jillian brought up a lot of interesting topics in the discussion, finding that they had quite a few things in common besides their place of employment. Despite working in different fields of engineering (aviation, bridges, and transportation, respectively), all three women did not always know that engineering was the industry for them.

“I started out as a music major,” explained Karen, “and then took some math classes, and said, ‘Oh, I kinda like this.’” After studying abroad in England, she decided to come back to the United States and pursue a degree in engineering.

While Karen went from music to engineering, Jillian enrolled as undeclared for her first year of college, while Audrey simply followed her passion for math and science until she definitely knew that engineering was where she belonged, around her sophomore/junior year of college.

All three ended up as Hoyle, Tanner engineers, adding their expertise to the firm and to the industry as a whole. Because the number of women in engineering is not particularly high, Girl Day’s purpose is to introduce young girls to the industry and encourage them to learn more about engineering. This can be done in many ways, from engineering firms hosting events to engineers visiting schools as role models for girls to follow, which will hopefully aid in boosting the number of female engineers in the future.

When asked whether they were ever discouraged to enter the field, Karen responded, “I don’t think anybody ever told me I couldn’t do it, but I’m not sure I remember anybody saying ‘Wow, you really can do this.’” Because engineering is not an easy field by any means, requiring extensive knowledge while balancing the responsibility of public safety, young people need the encouragement and confidence to enter the industry. Girl Day contributes to that empowerment, especially since there are so few women in the field.

“I don’t think it’s well represented by women; I think they’re discouraged by it…they don’t get the mentoring they need,” explained Karen when asked about the lack of women in engineering. Both Audrey and Jillian explained that engineering was not very prominent at their high schools either, with Jillian saying, “Going through high school, I had no idea engineering was really even an option.” She was one of three females in her graduating engineering class of 2007.

Fortunately, Girl Day will encourage girls to study engineering, but it will also help increase the success of engineering projects due to the diversity of minds at work. Karen touched upon the benefits of both men and women collaborating in the industry, explaining how the multi-tasking talents of women complement the more one-task-at-a-time nature of some of the males.

Not only does the field of engineering benefit from these diverse minds, but it also benefits from diverse skillsets. While engineering is frequently labelled as a strictly STEM field, all three women agree that a creative skill set comes in handy as well. Audrey explained that with engineering, “There’s general guidelines to follow, but not every project is the same.” She credits thinking outside the box in order to ensure all projects meet the standard criteria.

Engineering may foster a sense of creativity as well as math and science, but unfortunately, it does not receive the public promotion that it deserves, as Karen pointed out: “Even to men, it’s not well-promoted….we’re gonna run out of engineers at some point, because nobody’s majoring in it anymore.” Although I am not an engineer, I even recall that the field was not heavily promoted when I was in school. I can remember various courses and academic clubs on topics such as law and healthcare, but not so much engineering. Hopefully, Engineers Week will boost the confidence of both men and women and draw attention to the importance of skilled engineers in today’s society.

When asked what advice she would give to young people, particularly girls, wishing to enter the field of engineering, Audrey responded, “Just don’t let anyone tell you can’t. If you’re truly interested in it, just go for it.” Hopefully, more people will take Audrey’s advice and contribute their skills to the future of engineering.

Written by Abigael Donahue