Engineers Week is always an exciting time to celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world. I especially enjoy this year’s theme of “Inspiring Wonder” and the call to not only inspire young people with all that engineers do in their everyday lives, but also encourage them to wonder “Is engineering my future?”
This is a particularly meaningful Engineers Week for me, since it is the first one I have spent as a “retiree.” As I look back over my 48-year career with EBA, of course I am proud of many work accomplishments, such as helping to take our firm from a dream to a well-established business.
Perhaps more than anything else, though, I have been most energized by my work mentoring young engineers, volunteering, and advocating for STEM education. I have written about this topic before with some suggestions on how we can work together to inspire and nurture the next generation of STEM professionals and encourage students to pursue an engineering career.
A few days ago, I spent an evening volunteering with young would-be scientists and engineers at Baltimore’s Engineers Club. About 50 teams of more than 150 high school students from Baltimore County Public Schools participated in a “Shark Tank” type activity at the event, which was organized by the Maryland Society of High School Engineering Programs.
Each group showed its ability to research a subject, work in a team, and present to the judges. The solutions covered a wide spectrum of innovations, including 3D printing of MRI scans, in-line replaceable drinking water filters, and accessible door knobs for people with physical disabilities.
l helped judge the event. Being a judge gave me the opportunity to speak with several students, and I was impressed by these future scientists and engineers and their great ideas. Their parents and teachers deserve commendations for advising and motivating these young people. I know the future of the profession is in good hands!
Looking to the Future
Looking to the future, I would also note one of the biggest challenges facing our profession in this nation. Many in the profession are alarmed that we face a shortage of engineers and scientists who would lead the country in STEM professions.
So I may be “retiring” from my full-time job as a principal of EBA, but I will continue to work with young aspiring engineers and scientists to share my experience with them. We need to advocate for policies that support safe, sustainable infrastructure and increase public dialogue about the need for engineers. And I encourage us all to work with more young people to develop their engineering ideas, hone their skills, and inspire their wonder!
Kunal Gangopadhyay, PE, is a senior associate and co-founder of EBA Engineering, Inc. He is a member and former chairman of the Baltimore County Career and Technology Education Advisory Council (CTEAC) and the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Program Advisory Council, as well as a frequent volunteer, mentor, and adviser.