Educational outreach in 2020 is different than it was in 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed where and how kids learn. But civil engineers have innovated and adjusted so that they can continue to inspire students around the world.
“The reason I do outreach is to engage with kids and encourage them to explore the wonders of engineering. It makes me feel good passing on my passion for STEM, and I still get those feel-good feelings now; it’s just weirdly through a computer screen,” said Monica Crinion, P.E., M.ASCE, a bridge engineer for AECOM based in Chicago and chair of ASCE’s Precollege Outreach Committee.
“Our committee is definitely pivoting online. All of our members who participate are really trying to make that turn and make sure we don’t lose a year of outreach to students. We don’t want to lose traction. And sometimes the best changes happen when you don’t get a choice and have to just go with it.”
Case in point: ASCE’s new virtual engineering experience, Dream, Build, Create, a series of outreach events in November through public libraries across the country, introducing engineering to people of all ages, especially families and children.
The program includes free screenings of the award-winning documentary Dream Big: Engineering Our World, Nov. 10, 14, 17, and 24. ASCE is also organizing several virtual panel discussions – or “dream teams” – where participants can join live conversations with a group of young, diverse engineers.
“If you want to see industry grow and you want to see this career path continue to be what it is, we’ve got to put that effort into it,” said Fernando Ceballos, P.E., M.ASCE, a project manager at Pape-Dawson Engineers in Plano, Texas, and longtime devoted outreach champion. “What better way than teaching kids early on that this can be a future for them?”
Ceballos will lead a Spanish-language dream team panel discussion Nov. 19. The complete schedule features a “Cities of the Future” panel Nov. 10; “Women in Engineering,” also Nov. 10; and “Black Engineers,” Nov. 18.
“The Dream Big film does a really good job of showing the future of what they can be and what they can achieve,” Ceballos said.
“Being part of these efforts, it’s awesome to know we’re doing everything we can to make it easy for students to engage with engineers – bilingual efforts as well. You want to give kids the opportunity to say, ‘You know what? These people look like me; I can be like them someday.’
“It’s extremely rewarding to know that you can make an impact in someone’s life.”
To get involved:
• Register to receive Dream, Build, Create information, including Vimeo links and passcodes to English, Spanish, and closed-captioned versions of Dream Big, specifics on how to access the Dream Team panels on Facebook Live, plus weekly updates.
• Share the Vimeo links and passcodes with your network – libraries, teachers, families, and friends.
“Dream Big was really set up beautifully with all the associated activities. So, the resources are already there for ASCE members to get out and do outreach,” Crinion said. “It’s challenging, but it’s also inspiring. I think ASCE-wise, business-wise, and outreach-wise, we’re going to come out of this stronger than we were when we first went in. We’ll learn things that have helped us adapt professionally. Dream Big supports that with all the activities, so I’m really excited for this project and these panels.”
Learn more about Dream, Build, Create screenings and panels.