Engineering career doesn’t register with kids: ASQ poll

Students and parents lack understanding of career choices, but find value in math and science skills

By Plant Engineering Staff January 28, 2009

When it comes to kids’ dream jobs, engineering has its own problem to solve.

Survey results indicate the top reasons why kids may not be interested in pursuing engineering:

  • Kids don’t know much about engineering (44%).

  • Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30%).

  • They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21%) to be good at it— despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22%) and science (17%) as their favorite subjects.

    • Findings from the adult survey on this topic show:

    • Only 20% of parents have encouraged/will encourage their child/children to consider an engineering career.

    • The vast majority of parents (97%) said they believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.

      • The ASQ survey among youth ages 8-17 as well as among parents aimed to provide a better understanding about the perceptions of selecting an engineering career in light of a troubling shortage of U.S. engineers, which will reach 70,000 by 2010 based on an estimate by the National Science Foundation.

        The survey also found the following gender differences in career interests and intent:

        More girls say their parents are likely to encourage them to become an actress (21%) than an engineer (10%).

        Boys (24%) are significantly more likely than girls (5%) to say they are interested in an engineering career. The survey found 31% of boys vs. 10% of girls say their parents have encouraged them to think about an engineering career.

        students excited about the profession and spotlight interesting role models.”

        In an effort to raise awareness of engineering as a career choice, ASQ is developing a Webinar for young people, parents and educators. The Webinar will be available on the ASQ Web site during National Engineers Week, February 15-21. Titled “Real World of Engineering,” it will feature ASQ members and engineers Cheryl Birdsong-Dyer with Sprint/Nextel discussing cell phones and Chuck Kanapicki with American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises Inc., a Joint Venture discussing bridge building.

        The Webinar is designed to provide middle/high school students and parents a clear view of what engineers do and what skills are necessary to become an engineer, as well as provide them inside perspective from two successful engineers working on interesting projects. More information on the Webinar will be available soon at www.asq/.org/education .