Students explore engineering careersWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Local high school students aspiring to become engineers embraced opportunities to examine that profession during National Engineers Week.
About 230 students from 29 area high schools participated in “Engineer for a Day” on Feb. 18 at UT’s College of Engineering. The students toured the college, learned about educational opportunities and were paired with local professional engineers for the afternoon.
Relana Reid, a senior at Scott High School, plans to enroll at UT in the fall to study electrical engineering.
“I like to work with my hands, find out how things work by taking them apart and putting them back together,” Reid said.
Reid spent the afternoon with Katie Puffenberger, an engineer with Jones & Henry Engineers in Toledo. Kyle Crayne, a senior at Springfield High School, spent the afternoon with Travis Rhodes, a design engineer with The Mannick & Smith Group of Maumee. Crayne has declared his major in engineering at Michigan State University.
Attracting students to engineering fields is important for the future of business, despite an estimated 2 million engineers practicing in the United States.
A shortage of as many as 70,000 engineers is possible by 2010, according to the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences.
The American Society for Quality reports that a career in engineering is not commonly considered by most preteens and teenagers. In fact, 85 percent of students surveyed were not interested in pursuing an engineering degree.
The median annual salary for all engineers in the United States increased 5 percent from $75,000 in 2006 to $79,000 in 2008, according to a survey conducted by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The median annual salary for engineers in the Toledo area is $79,480. In some regions of the United States, the median salary is as high as $89,000.
“The profession of engineering is about innovations to improve the quality of life in our society,” said Nagi Naganathan, dean of UT’s College of Engineering. “National Engineers Week not only recognizes the accomplishments of engineering professionals, but also highlights the relevance and importance of the profession in our everyday lives.”
SSOE, ranked eighth largest among the nation’s engineering and architectural firms, hosted 30 students Feb. 18 as part of Engineer for a Day. Students from Notre Dame Academy, Tiffin Columbian and the Monroe County Intermediate School District learned what it takes to become an engineer.
SSOE officials discussed the company’s student co-op program that is considered an important source for hiring new engineers. The company has doubled in size since 2004, posting its largest revenue ever in 2008 and is predicting additional growth in 2009.
“We have numerous job openings throughout the country for positions averaging $60,000 a year. Clearly, engineering remains a solid profession and an exciting career path,” said Donald Warner, chairman of Toledo’s Engineers Week, who is a senior account executive with SSOE.
“We made a strategic decision to engage students in the work force at SSOE by giving them a chance to work at the firm through co-op programs and hiring many of them after graduation. The increase in youthful presence has invigorated the older work force,” Warner said.
Engineering students at UT are required to work in their field of study while in college. The degree requires three semesters of co-op work for undergraduates in all engineering fields except for engineering technologies.
The students work 40 hours a week in engineering-related jobs with companies for three semesters beginning in the sophomore year of their four and one-half years of study.
“It’s an awesome opportunity and program for the students,” said Vickie Kuntz, director of the Engineering Career Management Center at UT.
“Many companies look at the co-op program as a recruiting tool and rotate several students to have someone working fulltime and year-round. Some students are offered full-time positions by the firms after graduation.”
In other engineering news:
The 2009 Engineer and Young Engineer of the Year Awards were presented at a lunch banquet Feb. 16. C. Michael Smith was named 2009 Engineer of the Year recognizing his 30-plus years in the profession.