Turning Teens on to Engineering

December 6, 2011

Business leaders often find that good engineers are hard to come by, even in this tough job market. How frustrating, then, that relatively few young people choose engineering as a career. Only about a quarter of teens have even considered engineering.

How can we get more of them to give engineering a try? For starters, we can give them a better sense--or any sense--of what engineers do.

A new survey Intel conducted in collaboration with Change the Equation finds that many teens just aren't that familiar with the profession. When asked to rank a series of careers according to how much they knew about them, teens ranked engineering in the bottom half. Almost a third (29 percent) said they did not know about career opportunities in engineering. They don't know what they're missing.

The good news is that this problem is not insurmountable. More than 6 in 10 teens reported that they were more likely to consider a career in engineering after learning about the the average yearly salary: $75,000. More than half said they were more likely to consider the profession after hearing that the jobless rate for engineers is four percentage points lower than the overall national rate.

Most teens also warm to the profession when they learn about the exciting, unexpected or even noble things engineers do. Engineers make driving, texting, gaming and social networking possible. They also solve pressing human problems, such as saving the miners who spent more than two months trapped in a Chilean mine.

So what can adults do to turn young people on to engineering? The survey offers several ideas. Talk about how rewarding it is to be an engineer. Describe it as a positive challenge, rather than as merely difficult. Give it a human face. Stress its benefits to society.

Who knows...familiarity might just breed admiration.

Read the whole Intel survey here, or check out the cool infographic below:


Intel is a member of Change the Equation.

Tags: engineering, jobs & workforce


I found out about engineering at career day in 8th grade. I thought I wanted to be an architect. While flipping through the A's on my way, I stumbled across Aeronautical Engineering. The rest is history. Engineering is a wondeful, rich, and rewarding career path. I wish I knew how to reach more kids and tell them that I sometimes feel guilty getting paid for this much fun!

I found out about engineering, from the time I was a very young by growing up on a family farm. After school I would hang out at the farm while my dad, uncle and grandpa finished up and play around with the equipment. I also spent summers on the farm, where I learned how to problem solve by fixing broken belts and the return elevator on my grungy old pea combine.

My grandpa had also studied civil engineering (which is my current major) at Standford University. He never used his degree professionally, however he did build my family's grain elevator by using what he learned through his degree. My grandpa's elevator is one of a kind, due to the fact that it is one of the few wooden elevators left in the United States, and the pit (which is what the trucks dump the grain off onto) does not have moisture problems. Which is remarkable considering not only do most elevators have moisture problems, but my family grain elevator sits right next to a lake.

I also had a chance to run this elevator for a couple summers and while working in it, it never cites to stop amazing me on what the human mind is capable of due to all the details. This is ultimately what drove me to want to be an engineer. I wanted a career that I could take pride in and know that something that I helped design would help the community in some way.