The phrase “going back to school” took on a special meaning for me this year, as my oldest daughter entered college a few weeks ago. A look at the latest set of statistics shows that Emily had a lot of company. Data also shows that more and more of the young men and women who are entering school are studying mechanical engineering.
The figures I’m looking at were released recently by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) but refer to statistics from 2010. I’m hoping that last year’s good news for engineering extends to this year and beyond. These statistics show that enrollment in bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering related majors surpassed the 100,000 number. Specifically, 96,164 students were enrolled in B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and 6,011 in mechanical engineering technology programs, for a total of 102,175.
For purposes of comparison, electrical/computer engineering was second, recording a total of 85,006, and civil engineering was third with 55,097.
How to interpret this data is subjective. I like to believe that the results are at least in part due to the efforts of ASME volunteers and staff working on behalf of our pre-college programs. I also believe that our Society’s activities in the humanitarian arena also inspire young men and women to see the potential for helping humankind through our profession.
You may be aware that engineering workforce development is one of ASME’s three strategic initiatives, along with energy, and global impact and outreach. ASME’s work in the area of developing a vibrant workforce begins with emphasizing the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in grades leading to college.
For engineering students and others, the transition from high school to college is a wonderful growing experience. Here at ASME, we believe that responsible and thoughtful transitions also provide growth for the organization.
Therefore, as a growth initiative, volunteer and staff leaders have been working on assessing and aligning programs in order to best serve organizational needs. This has resulted in the formation of a new ASME sector, called Public Affairs and Outreach.
Outreach Programs includes a new area, Engineering for Global Development—which houses our exciting EngineeringForChange.org initiative—and an expansion of the Education and Student Career Programs area that formally was comprised our Centers area. The area of Public Affairs includes our Government Relations, Strategic Issues, and Diversity Strategy units, and also our Industry Advisory Board and the Innovation Committee.
For those of you who are not involved volunteers of ASME and are grassroots members instead, these changes may not seem like a big deal on the surface. But the impact of this organizational growth on our ability to serve your needs as engineers, the profession in general, and all of humankind around the world is significant.
As you can see by our realignment, our focus on education continues to grow. With it, we hope will be the number of college students electing to go into engineering careers.
— Thomas G. Loughlin, ASME Executive Director