Would George Washington Celebrate National Engineers Week?
By the time I was nine or ten I knew I was going to be an engineer. By then everyone in my family, and everyone else, I knew also knew I was going to be an engineer. I have three brothers. They all became engineers. Maybe there is something genetic about becoming an engineer. Or perhaps it is environmental and we are taught from an early age. I am not certain about the cause, but I do know that I have enjoyed the practice of engineering from the time I began my career until now. There is something exciting about cause and effect, about creating things that work, and about applied science in general.
This week is National Engineers Week. In the United States, National Engineers’ Week is celebrated in the week that includes George Washington’s birthday, February 22. It has been celebrated this way since it was started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. President Washington is considered as the nation’s first engineer. He knew a lot about engineering, most notably, his work as a surveyor. Many of his military strategies were successful because of his knowledge and use of engineering. The practice of engineering in the United States expanded to include manufacturing and industrial applications during and immediately after the Revolutionary War. At that time, the United States shifted from being primarily an agricultural society importing manufactured goods from Europe, to one that was increasingly self-sufficient.
The purpose of National Engineers Week is to call attention to the contributions made to our society by engineers. It is also a time for engineers to emphasize the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills, and to reach out to the youth of the country and encourage them to follow careers in engineering and other technical fields.
We often hear or read about a shortage or anticipated shortage of engineers in the United States. Engineers Week includes many events and programs to encourage students to in elementary and in high schools develop a love of math and consider careers in engineering to fill this need. It can be a great career choice, since it’s generally true that a career in engineering or other technical sciences will pay a premium over one in the humanities or social sciences. This week is one when the National Professional Engineering Society and other groups and professional societies make an effort to tell the youth of the country about the opportunities they could have.
It is great to see renewed focus of STEM in many school curriculums. It is great to see high quality college graduates arrive in the workforce with their engineering degrees. The United States has been a leader in engineering and engineering innovation since it was founded. We can be confident that this will continue for many decades to come.
Happy Engineers week to all my fellow and future engineers!