Have You Seen This Little Girl?

You probably have--in your neighborhood, at church, at the supermarket hawking Girl Scout Cookies, at a family reunion or Christmas party. Maybe she even lives at your house. She's smart, imaginative and creative. She's got a quirky outlook on life. She's curious about everything and is always asking why things are the way they are and work the way they do. She loves pink and her Disney princess bed sheets, but it's not unusual to find her on the floor building her princess castle out of blocks and deciding that a working catapult might not be a bad accessory for it. She wonders why Cinderella didn't at least get a Dyson. She's not above taking her Barbie dolls and her E-Z Bake oven apart to see how they're made. She's not intimidated by a computer and dominates at video games. She likes logic and math puzzles.

If you find her now and show her the way, she could be the next great engineer. Unfortunately, if somebody doesn't point that out to her while she's still in grade school or middle school, chances are she's going to find another career--not a bad one necessarily, but not one in engineering, which is where we could really use her in the coming decades.

National Engineering Week--a celebration of engineering-is Feb 17-23. Go to www.eweek.org for the complete schedule for the week and some interesting supporting materials, including a whole tutorial about how to talk to young people-of both sexes-about engineering careers.

Germane to the search for that girl in your neighborhood is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on Thursday, Feb. 21. A video (on YouTube, of course) that you might want to share with the young women in your life is "Women in Enginering," co-produced by the SME Education Foundation, AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology, Gardner Business Media and Modern Machine Shop magazine. It features Rebecca "Becky" Miller, a quality control engineer at GE Aviation, Evendale, Ohio, describing the work of manufacturing engineering and the reasons why she finds her field rewarding. It's a great clip. You should watch it and share it.

Seriously, take time to celebrate National Engineering Week and the important work you do and to encourage the smart, creative and imaginative young people in your life to consider engineering and process automation as a career. And, as Abigail Adams said in a different context, "consider the ladies." We know we need more engineers. Can we really afford the luxury of overlooking 50% of the potential candidates out there?