Engineers Week Encourages a Look at the Profession
OKLAHOMA – National Engineers Week, February 19-25, is celebrated throughout the United States to increase public awareness and appreciation of the engineering profession. Thursday, February 23 is “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.”
Evette Stroble, an aerospace engineer employed by Mosaic Personnel at Tinker Air Force Base, sees a need for more women in the engineering profession.
“Until recently, women weren’t recognized as an asset to the profession. We’ve proven our strengths and are showing that we have a lot to offer to the field of engineering.”
At universities located in central Oklahoma, 994 engineering students are women, only about 19 percent of all engineering students.*
Stroble is a shining example of what engineers can do to encourage young women to consider engineering as a profession. On February 25, she’ll work with a Girl Scout troop in Tulsa to show the girls how engineering requires math, science and research, but can also be fun and games.
“We’ll be playing SimCity, the computer game where you design a city, to teach the girls that engineering is critical to effective city planning,” said Stroble. “Everything from water sources, plumbing, streets, electrical resources, entertainment venues and the kinds of business you attract can affect your city’s budget, operations and ultimately, the quality of life for residents. The girl who designs the best city – one that operates most effectively on a budget – wins the game.”
Earnings for engineers vary by specialty, industry and education level. A 2005 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports starting salaries for petroleum engineers average $61,516 a year, the highest starting pay among engineers with a bachelor’s degree.
“That bodes well for Oklahoma,” according to Pam Fountain, president of Mosaic Personnel, a professional employment firm that specializes in recruiting and employing engineers locally. “Oklahoma has a high demand for engineers because of our large corporations headquartered here: Chesapeake, Kerr McGee and Devon Energy. We’re seeing a rise in demand for all types of engineers, especially electrical and mechanical due to increased government outsourcing at Tinker Air Force Base and the FAA.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical engineers are expected to have employment growth that is much faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. The aging of the population and the focus on health issues will drive demand for better medical devices and equipment designed by biomedical engineers. Employment for environmental engineers is also predicted to increase due to growing need to comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up existing hazards.
“Oklahoma will benefit if we encourage students to look at engineering as a possible career. Women have a lot of opportunities here,” added Fountain. “Engineers are in high demand in the metro area and the demand will rise in the future. Research, biomedical, aerospace, electronics and other technology-driven industries will require highly-trained, specialized engineers.”
Evette Stroble is starting an Oklahoma City chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and is looking for members. For more information, visit www.swe.org.
National Engineer’s Week takes place every year at the time of George Washington’s birthday. The nation’s first president had the background of an engineer and land surveyor.
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* Based on enrollment numbers reported to Anglin Public Relations by the colleges of engineering at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University.