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Show engineering some love

Posted: 17 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:engineering? Cohn John fellow? EE?

Not appealing at all

In marketing terms, engineering has a branding problem. Kids aren't buying the profession because they don't understand what it is truly selling, and what they think it is selling does not appeal to them.

The most inspiring thing about Cohn's talk was that he offered a straightforward prescription for curing the ailment. Cohn spends much of his time doing engineering outreach in school, churches and clubs. He talks about what he does for a living, its importance, its rewards. Most important, he shows them that engineering can be interesting and, yes, fun.

Cohn's genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious. I left the ballroom with no doubt that engineering enrollment would pick up immediatelyif only John Cohn were able to get in front of every kid for a few minutes.

Which of course is impossible. Cohn is asking for help; for others that love engineering as he does to take up the cause. He asked other engineers to get involved to step away from their day jobs from time-to-time and go out in the community to promote engineering and help pass along their love of it to kids. He admits such outreach can be challenging, particularly in the early going. His Website,, offers some resources to help.

Let's face it: these are not the best of times for EEs. Truckloads have been laid off over the past four months. In the U.S. and Western Europe, in particular, fears over the outsourcing of jobs abound. In the pages of EE Times and elsewhere, we read over and over about parents that don't want their kids to follow them into the field (Cohn said only 30 percent of parents consider engineering an acceptable career choice for their kids).

These challenges are precisely why we need Cohn's message right now. As he said, the stakes are high. The world needs engineers now as much if not morethan ever. But maybe we also need John Cohn and others like him for the way they celebrate engineering, perhaps reminding engineers why they got into the field in the first place.

We can all use an occasional reminder, even of the most basic things.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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