Has your child ever asked you what an engineer does in their job? You may have said something like, "They build things." Well, not exactly. Engineers develop solutions. An engineer is rarely the one physically putting the pieces together. What they do is identify a problem, develop a solution, then collaborate with others to implement it. Think of it like an architect. They develop the blue prints that are used by the construction company. The architect develops the idea of the building while the construction company builds the building. See the difference?
So how does an engineer do it? What skills do they need in order to be successful? What skills should I be nurturing if my child wants to be an engineer when they grow up? There are 4 basic skills engineers use everyday:
Kids can practice these skills using anything in their environment. Encourage their skill development by asking them the same probing questions that engineers use. Let's demonstrate this with an example: making toast.
You never knew there where so many questions about how to make toast! This may seem like overkill for such a simple process. A real-world example of this process is a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA). This process is used extensively by NASA to evaluate every single piece of the space shuttle and identify ways it can fail. They use this knowledge to mitigate risks associated with loss of equipment, mission, or life. Click here for a detailed document explaining the FMEA process.
This summer, Elevate Tutoring Services is offering STEM Camp (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This camp introduces students to the practical skills STEM professionals (like engineers) use everyday. Learn more about it here.