Steve Mackay, of IDC-online, the Australia based automation and instrumentation engineering training company, has been weighing in on the subject of engineering education, and a lot of what he says mirrors my own beliefs, and what I've been saying in Control magazine and in this blog for several years. So, go, Steve, go. But there's more to it than asking people to unretire. We need to attract new star talent to the automation profession. The problem isn't that companies don't recruit from and support college level engineering schools. Many companies do. Companies donate equipment, even complete control systems, to engineering schools. They make available software at vastly reduced prices to schools and even individual students. ISA is also taking a stab at this, but its program also concentrates on the college student. No, the problem is that too many students are opting out of the engineering profession altogether, long before they attend college. Only a few companies are trying to work at the level where we, as a profession, need it most: at the middle-school and high school level. That's where students decide what not to be. They often do not decide what they want to do when they grow up until college or after, but they certainly know by the time they are entering high school what they don't want to do when they grow up. And more and more, engineering is one of those occupations. Famously, National Instrument, Honeywell, and AutomationDirect have supported programs for educating younger children about the wonders of engineering. It works, too. A recent study by Brandeis University found that FIRST Robotics Competition students were more than 3 times as likely to major specifically in engineering; roughly 10 times as likely to have had an apprenticeship, internship or co-op job in their freshman year; significantly more likely to expect to achieve a post graduate degree; and more than twice as likely to expect to pursue a career in science and technology. They're nearly 4 times as likely to expect to pursue a career specifically in engineering. And they pay it forward too, being more than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities. It's easy to say that you don't know where to start. But it isn't true. This coming year, Executive Editor Jim Montague will be working in his school district on bringing engineering education to after school programs, and he'll be writing about it in this magazine. Can one person make a difference? Maybe not. But what would happen if every company involved with automation were to donate one person to the cause? Suppose your company were to support one member of your staff working half-time or full-time as an organizer, or mentor, for a Lego League or FIRST robotics team? Look at what has happened with United Way, because many companies do that. United Way has burgeoned, and with that growth, the number of great not-for-profit programs it supports has also grown. So here's the challenge. Join Jim Montague in donating your time to working to improve engineering, science and mathematics programs in grade school and high school where you live. Let's get them while they're young.