Clemson and GE team up to get more engineers to work

Finding employers engineers hard to find, but Clemson University is one of the institutions looking to make a dent in that.

Through a partnership with GE called the Next Engineers program, high school students — or Next Engineers — can get up close and personal with engineering through Engineering Academy Greenville. The program is there to help increase not only the number of students entering engineering, but also the diversity of those students. According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 17 percent of those entering the field were black or Latino.

On July 22, a group of 11th grade students had the opportunity to visit Clemson University and see some of the Watt Family Innovation Center, where they test virtual reality headsets and 3D printers. Next Engineers also took a look at the Clemson Energy Visualization and Analytics Center, a facility that monitors the carbon footprint of every object on Clemson’s campus, down to a tree.

“I wanted to be a mechanical engineer ever since I saw the Imagineering documentary about Disney Plus,” said Hadley Medeiros, a junior at Daniel High School in Central, South Carolina. “It shows how they built the rides in the Disney theme parks.”

The program offers three experiences for students, depending on the grade. They are:

  • Engineering Discovery for children aged 13-14
  • Engineering Camp, a week-long camp experience for 14-15 years
  • Engineering Academy for ages 15-18

In addition to the Greenville schools that Clemson works with — in Greenville, Pickens, Oconee, and Spartanburg counties — there are hubs in Johannesburg, South Africa; Staffordshire, United Kingdom; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The program teaches students to think like engineers, with the ultimate goal of progressing to a secondary education in engineering. Students are expected to learn 80 hours per year outside of the normal classroom environment and may be eligible for a $20,000 scholarship from GE upon completion of the program. Students get everything from immersive design challenges to lecture preparation workshops.

“They come to college about twice a month, usually on Saturdays,” said Brittany Fatima Sanders, project manager for Next Engineers Greenville. “We do engineering design challenges; they meet faculty members and participate in these kinds of activities to get them excited about being engineers – and it works.”

Different types of engineers

  • Civil Engineers design and build roads, bridges, buildings, dams and other structures and make sure they are safe and long lasting.
  • Mechanical Engineers design and build machines such as ambulances, jet engines, telescopes and ferris wheels.
  • Electrical Engineers work with electricity to make essential things like traffic lights, or use electricity to power cars and design electric aircraft engines.
  • Chemical Engineers combining raw materials into new products to make, for example, more efficient solar panels and larger batteries.

Source: Next Engineers Greenville

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