Engineering is a field that offers endless opportunities for problem-solving, innovation, and impact. To ensure a strong pipeline of talented engineers, it is crucial to start nurturing students’ interest and skills in high school. That is why we wanted to explore how high schools can help prepare students for careers in engineering, as well as give parents and schools some programs and initiatives in New Jersey they can suggest to their kids who may be interested in becoming engineers.
High schools can ignite students’ passion for engineering by introducing the field at an early stage. Offering introductory engineering courses as part of the curriculum exposes students to foundational concepts, principles, and hands-on projects. These courses can provide a glimpse into various engineering disciplines, helping students identify their areas of interest.
If you are a parent interested in making sure your school is providing access to these types of opportunities, make sure you are attending board meetings and talking to other parents. Together, you can put together a proposal and push for change that will benefit future and current students who want to become engineers.
Project-based learning (PBL) is a powerful teaching method that fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity—skills essential for future engineers. High schools can incorporate PBL into their engineering programs by assigning real-world projects that require students to apply their knowledge and skills. Encouraging students to work in teams on complex engineering challenges not only enhances their technical abilities but also nurtures their communication and teamwork skills.
Establishing engineering clubs in high schools can create a platform for students to explore their interests outside the classroom. These clubs can organize regular meetings, guest lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities related to engineering. Additionally, participating in engineering competitions such as robotics, bridge-building, or coding challenges can help students develop problem-solving abilities and gain exposure to the practical aspects of engineering.
If your school doesn’t currently offer engineering clubs, it is a great opportunity for your student to take initiative and help get one started. Clubs are often proving grounds for the administration to see the benefits of incorporating STEM more firmly into their curriculum.
High schools can strengthen their engineering programs by fostering partnerships with local industries and universities. Collaborating with engineering firms and organizations allows students to gain insights into the professional world and explore potential career paths. Internship opportunities and mentorship programs can provide invaluable experiences, enabling students to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world scenarios. Furthermore, partnerships with universities can grant high school students access to advanced engineering facilities, research projects, and guidance from experts.
Project Lead the Way is a nationally recognized program that offers a comprehensive STEM curriculum, including engineering, in New Jersey high schools. PLTW equips students with hands-on experiences, problem-solving skills, and a solid foundation in engineering principles. The program provides access to cutting-edge technologies, industry partnerships, and professional development opportunities for educators.
The New Jersey Science Olympiad is a competitive event that engages high school students in various science and engineering challenges. The program promotes teamwork, critical thinking, and practical application of scientific knowledge. Students can compete in events such as building mousetrap vehicles, designing towers, or conducting experiments in different disciplines of science and engineering.
Rutgers Future Scholars is a New Jersey-based program that aims to prepare talented students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds for higher education, including engineering. The program provides academic support, mentoring, college readiness workshops, and exposure to STEM fields through hands-on activities and visits to Rutgers University’s engineering facilities.
It is undeniable that high schools play a pivotal role in preparing students for successful careers in engineering. By introducing engineering early, promoting project-based learning, fostering engineering clubs, and facilitating collaborations with local industries and universities, high schools can nurture the talents and passions of future engineers. In New Jersey, programs like Project Lead the Way, the New Jersey Science Olympiad, and the Rutgers Future Scholars Program provide valuable resources and opportunities to support young engineers on their journey towards fulfilling careers. With the right guidance and support, high schools can inspire and empower the next generation of innovators, problem-solvers.