February 9, 2005

And speaking of declining enrollments...

It seems to me that part of the problem must be the public perception of engineering. It's just too hard and nerdy, not really in touch with pop culture. When you think about how engineers are viewed on tv, the best you can come up with are the battlebots, giant truck, junkyard wars type shows. While I'll admit to having a soft spot for them, they're not exactly drenched in cool. Let's face it -- they're on Discovery, not MTV or MuchMusic.

But, there's hope. Take a look at this little bit from the most recent IEEE What's New for Students:


Can music lure kids into engineering? That's the hope of engineer Rajeev Bajaj and his "Geek Rhythms," a self-proclaimed "geeksta rap" CD about engineering and technology. One track on the CD explains the principles of chemical engineering; another describes the frustrations of computer geeks. Stanford University's radio station has played the CD, and an engineering faculty member at New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute sought permission to play a song from the CD at graduation. Read more at: <http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1003905.cms>

Geeksta Rap. Ya gotta love it.


Christina said...

I have to say that I think it probably goes the opposite way. My niece is turning into a gearhead after watching Jesse James et al. She asked my husband if she can come over and learn to weld!

To me, it's much more attractive to put the engineering to a real and fun use (junk yard wars) than some abstract idea conveyed by a geek in a song.

But that's just me.

John Dupuis said...

I guess everyone should learn to weld. But I think gearheads-in-training will find a way to engineering. The more challenging kids to reach are the ones who aren't so immediately attracked to it, but may find a lot to interest them if they give it a chance. There's a million ways to discover you want to be an engineer. Would geeksta rap have made me want to be a computer scientist? No way. It was a cousin who ended up a computer guy via architecture who piqued my interest. I ended up taking a FORTRAN (boy am I dating myself) course, and the rest was history. I still remember that the bonus assignment for the FORTRAN course was to implement matrix multiplication. Now that was fun.