Many K-12 students, and perhaps even some of their teachers, lack clear understanding of the significance or roles of an engineer [4, 13]. With the ever-growing integration of technology in our society, there is a need to establish a stronger foundation of STEM education, specifically ‘E’: engineering. Several research groups believe and have published data supporting the idea that minimal exposure of engineering at a young age may lead to the absence of motivation by students to consider engineering as a future career [14, 15]. In contrast, studies have also shown that exposing students to engineering concepts early in their academic careers could influence them to seriously consider engineering [28]. In this study, hands-on outreach events were held for students at local K-12 schools to expose and share knowledge about the importance of engineering, careers engineers enter into, and examples of problems engineers work to solve daily. Students were given the opportunity to reverse engineer various small home appliances to learn about the components and how those components collectively help complete a system function. These appliances were gender neutral, and included power drills, hair dryers, coffee makers and more. To engage their minds further, students were tasked with redesigning the product with proposed improvements to increase the product’s overall functionality and/or efficiency. The students were surveyed with a questionnaire to gauge their interest in engineering. This data was analyzed and it was found that though the students viewed engineering as fun and exciting, it did not correlate to their desire to pursue it as a career. Additionally, the known gender gap that exists in engineering today was reconfirmed with this study.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.