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~2 The National Academy of Engineering Survey of Public Awareness of Engineering Outreach Programs In April 2001, The National Academy of Engineering (NAB), with funding from the Elizabeth and Stephen Bechtel, Jr., Foundation, initiated a new project as part of its Public Understanding of Engineering Program. The project involves conducting a survey/questionnaire and creating an inventory of current outreach programs for improving public awareness of engineering and developing recom- mendations based on the survey results. The recommendations will also suggest other activities to increase the public awareness of engineering. To carry out the project, NAE formed the Committee on Public Awareness of Engineering (CPAE) composed of a group of distinguished citizens interested in and/or involved in the engineering community (Appendix D). The committee reviewed the results of the survey/questionnaire and made recommendations for the next phase of the program. The survey/questionnaire was developed jointly by NAE and outside con- sultants, Market Research Bureau LLC (MRB) and McMahon Communications. The consultants administered the survey, tabulated the responses, and provided an analysis of the results. They polled a broad spectrum of organizations in- volved in engineering to determine what they or their organizations were doing to improve the public perception and awareness of engineering and to determine "best practices" (i.e., the most effective programs and/or techniques). The study adopted the following coals: Identify best practices in current programs to improve the public under- standing and appreciation of the role of engineering in society. Recommend ways the engineering community might leverage these best practices. 18

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 19 Formulate consistent core messagets) (e.g., slogans, catchwords, etc.) for all future outreach activities. Recommend additional ways the engineering community might improve its individual and collective efforts to increase the public awareness of . . engineering. Suggest to NAE and the engineering community a focus and activities for the next phase of this initiative. Appendix D lists the membership of the CPAE, the NAE staff involved, and the members of an Advisory Group that met with NAE staff and consultants to help shape the suggested recommendation for the CPAE to consider. OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY The main purpose of this project is "to help the engineering community maxi- mize its resources to deliver a comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained message that will help the public better appreciate the fundamental importance of engi- neering to the quality of their lives and to the productivity and economic strength of the nation. The findings of the study will be used as a foundation from which the engineering community can work together to impact public perceptions, public policy decisions, and the education system." . l The study identifies and analyzes the scope, nature, objectives, and effective- ness of current engineering communications, education, and outreach activities by various engineering organizations. The committee attempts to identify gaps or deficiencies in current activities and recommend ways to develop consistent messages and strategies for a coordinated effort. The data for the study were collected via a self-administered questionnaire, (Appendix E) that was sent to 628 organizations. The potential respondents could be divided into 10 broad categories covering all aspects of the engineering com- munity. Specific individuals for each type organization were asked to complete the questionnaires: executive directors of engineering societies; executive direc- tors of industry associations; executive directors of educational associations; directors or CEOs of museums; directors of national laboratories; CEOs or chief technology officers of private companies; CEOs of design/contracting firms; deans of engineering schools at colleges and universities; midlevel or senior- level administrators at federal agencies; and senior-level producers at media out- lets. Lists of engineering societies, museums, national laboratories, federal agen- cies, and producers/media lists were provided by NAE. The other lists were put together by MRB and McMahon Communications in conjunction with NAE. The industry list includes appropriate companies on the 2001 Fortune 500 list. The design/contracting firms include the top 50 design and/or contracting firms as ranked by the Engineering News Record. Colleges and universities were selected using various rankings of the top engineering schools (US News and World

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20 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING Report, Peterson's Undergraduate Guide: Four-Year Colleges 2002, and The Best Graduate Programs: Engineering). A list of responding organizations is given in Appendix F. Once respondent organizations had been identified, Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., CPAE Chair, sent a letter to each potential participant explaining the purpose and importance of developing an inventory of current activities advising them that they would be receiving the questionnaire. The initial letters were mailed on November 9, 2001. The questionnaire was accompanied by another letter from Mr. Bechtel on NAE stationary. A postage-paid envelope was included for the return of the questionnaire to Market Research Bureau. The questionnaire was also posted on the NAE web site and could be downloaded and completed by hand or electronically. Sixty-seven respondents completed the questionnaire electronically. The questionnaires were mailed on November 16, 2001, and respondents were given a due date of December 7, 2001. Letters and question- naires to the museums were mailed approximately two weeks after the original mailing dates, and their due date was extended accordingly to December 21, 2001. In the event, however, "late" questionnaires were accepted through February. From late December 2001 through January 2002, individuals who had not returned the questionnaires were contacted by telephone. Some respondents indi- cated that they did not have any outreach activities, and a few agreed to complete the questionnaire by phone. Other organizations were contacted by NAE or Mr. Bechtel's office, which yielded several more responses. The overall response rate for the study was 39 percent with variations by respondent category (Table 3-1). In most categories, the questionnaires were completed by the addressees. In the industry and design/construction firms categories, however, the questionnaires were passed along to a communications department, a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), or an engineering department. Responses were confidential, and respon- dents will be provided with the results of the study. Most of the questionnaires were returned directly to MRB either by mail or electronically; a few were sent to NAE and then forwarded to MRB. The overall response rate is excellent, especially in light of the length of the questionnaire, the high caliber of the respondents, and the absence of any incen- tive other than the importance of the study itself. The high response rate can probably be attributed to the perceived importance of the study, the respondents' pride in their activities, NAE's sponsorship of the study, and Mr. Bechtel's endorsement of the study. The typical response rate for self-administered questionnaires among a professional audience is much lower. There is probably a response bias in that individuals whose organizations have activities were more likely to return the questionnaire than those whose organizations do not have any activities. This probably accounts for the differ- ences in the response rate by category. For example, engineering societies, col- leges and universities, and national laboratories, which had the highest response

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 21 TABLE 3-1 Questionnaire Response Rates Que sti on - Number Undeli- naire No Sent verable Returned Outreacha Return Expressly Rateb Refused/ (percent) Declined Engineering Societies 80 50 6 70.0 1 Industry 237 3 54 12 28.2 21 Design and Contracting Films 47 12 25.5 2 Colleges and Universities 133 60 45.1 2 Industry Associations 17 7 41.2 Educational Associations 16 7 43.8 1 National Laboratories 22 12 1 59.1 Federal Contacts 17 5 2 41.2 Producers/Media 22 4 18.2 Museums 37 13 35.1 TOTAL 628 3 224 21 39.2 27 aOnly respondents who indicated that they did not return the questionnaire because they had no out- reach activities. Respondents who indicated they had no outreach activities on returned question- naires are included in the "questionnaire returned" count. hThe response rate was calculated as follows: (returned + no outreach)/(sent - undeliverable). rate are more likely to consider engineering outreach or education as a part of their mission. Although the study may not be all inclusive, it most likely repre- sents the vast majority of current engineering outreach activities and should be considered a representative assessment of the current situation. Specific smaller programs that may be missing are likely to be similar to the programs that are represented, and their absence does not change the overall conclusions of the study. The questionnaire is a comprehensive, 12-page document covering all pos- sible activities. Although the questionnaire was structured, respondents were encouraged to add comments, and many did. Respondents were also asked to include samples of materials, and about one-third provided samples. In addition to the self-administered questionnaire, a number of in-depth inter- views were conducted to clarify responses or to obtain additional information from respondents whose organizations had programs that were particularly interesting. Because both objective and subjective data were collected through interviews and extensive responses to open-ended questions, the data were analyzed in both quantitative and qualitative terms. The analysis is presented in the remainder of this chapter. A section highlighting selected outreach programs can be found in Appendix C.

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22 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING THE CURRENT SITUATION Current Activities There is a great deal of outreach, communications, and educational activity being done by the engineering community. Of the 245 organizations (224 that returned questionnaires plus 21 that indicated they had no outreach activities) that responded in some way to this study, 72 percent indicated that they are currently engaged in some sort of communication, outreach, or educational activity (Table 3-2). Although all types of organizations have outreach activities, colleges and universities, engineering societies, museums, and national laboratories are most likely to consider outreach as a part of their mission. The mission statements of many educational institutions and societies include promoting the engineering profession through outreach activities. The focus of activities by museums is on general science and technology rather than specifically on engineering. Private companies, both general industrial firms and engineering firms, are most likely to expect direct benefits from their efforts rather than long-term improvements in the engineering profession. These companies need engineers to produce their products and are primarily trying to encourage young people to go into the field. The purpose of media/producers activities is to provide education but also to provide entertainment; their programs are not structured to produce a long-term effect on engineering. Some sample mission statements for different types of organizations are provided in Appendix B. Most current activities are ongoing programs; many sponsoring organiza- tions have both ongoing and discrete programs (Table 3-31. The majority of organizations with outreach activities have multiple pro- grams in place and have been doing this type of activity for many years (Table 3-4~. Most organizations have been conducting activities for more than 10 years. Twenty percent indicated that their programs have been ongoing for 25 years or more (Table 3-5~. l \ TABLE 3-2 Is your organization currently engaged in communications, educational, or outreach activities designed to improve the public understanding of engineering? Percentage Yes No No answer 72 26 2 Total of respondents who returned the questionnaire or indicated they have no outreach activities = 245.

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To THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 23 TABLE 3-3 Are these ongoing activities or discrete programs with limited duration? Percentage Ongoing only Discrete only Both ongoing and discrete No answer 40 50 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. TABLE 3-4 Does your organization have more than one program of such activities (i.e., that reaches different audiences, has different objectives or different messages)? Percentage / i Only one More than one No answer 9 86 s Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. Note: The highest number reported was 300; among those who provided a numerical response, the median was three. TABLE 3-5 For how long has your organization had some sort of communications, education, or outreach effort? Percentage Less than 3 years 3 to 5 years 5 to 7 years 7 to 10 years More than 10 years No answer 3 6 4 6 73 8 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. Most respondents indicated that their organizations are committed to con- tinuing their activities for the foreseeable future. Those who currently had plans for the future were asked if they had plans for new programs, as well as (or in place of), current programs (Table 3-6~.

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b. 24 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING TABLE 3-6 Does your organization have plans for any communications, education or outreach activities in the future (beyond what you might be doing right now)? If you are doing something currently, do you have any plans for other efforts once the current activities are completed? Percentage Have plans a Do not have plans No answer 56 36 9 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. a Includes continuing current programs and new programs. About 10 percent indicated that they were referring only to ongoing programs. The purposes of current activities vary, but a substantial number of programs are targeted toward young people (K-12~. Many programs attempt to introduce young people to engineering or to stress the importance of math and science. The messages conveyed by these programs are primarily that math and science are fun and that mastering them can lead to rewarding, challenging, fun, exciting, and . . . . creative careers In engineering. A number of respondents listed the general public as a target audience. The descriptions of the programs, however, indicated that they were focused more on educating or, more accurately, inspiring young people to learn about engineering, technology, or math and science. The main concern of colleges and universities is increasing enrollments and filling the "pipeline" of engineers for industry; in- dustry is also concerned about the pipeline issue. Concerns about general percep- tions of engineering were slanted toward their impact on the pipeline issue. Eighty-two percent of respondents with outreach programs indicated that their programs targeted children in K-12, especially older children (grades 9-12.) Some highly visible programs are national in scope (most notably National Engi- neers Week, although it is typically conducted as a series of local projects), but most activities are local in scope (e.g., mentoring programs, competitions, speak- ers, etc., at local schools or community venues) (Table 3-71. The messages conveyed by most programs can be characterized as recruit- ment messages: "engineering is a fun, creative, exciting, important career"; "math and science are fun" messages for younger children; and "engineers are important and contribute to the quality of life, the economy, and environment" messages. These general messages appeared over and over again, although the wording dif- fered from program to program. Organizations use a variety of tools in their programs; the most common are web sites, public relations, speakers, and informal educational programs. Most organizations use more than one approach (Table 3-8~.

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 25 TABLE 3-7 What are the target audiences for your organization's communications, educational or outreach efforts? Who are you trying to reach with your messages? Percentage General public Engineers Potential clients/engineering users Undergraduate students Children in kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5) Children in sixth through eighth grade (6-8) Children in ninth through twelfth grades (9-12) Unduplicated K-12 Teachers in kindergarten through twelfth grades (K-12) College/university faculty Opinion leaders Public policy makers Newspapers Broadcast media Other media Other audience 69 60 49 62 43 62 77 82 59 59 49 49 53 49 19 18 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. This table shows the percentage of respondent organizations that address each of these audiences but does not show the percentage of programs that address each audience. TABLE 3-8 Which of the following specific activities is your organization using in its communications or outreach efforts? Percentage Web sites Speakers/symposia Public relations Informal educational programs Direct mail Formal educational curriculum Public affairs/policy Paid advertising Public service advertising 800 number Other 77 66 65 57 46 38 37 35 19 16 19 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177.

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26 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING When respondents were asked to answer questions pertaining to the specific activities they engage in, more respondents answered some specific questions than might be expected based on the general responses in Table 3-8. To capture the greatest amount of information, the responses to subsequent questions are tabulated based on actual responses. Web Sites The Internet is the most widely used tool, but in most cases it is an extension of the main web site and not a separate site for outreach activities (Table 3-9~. A little more than one-third (39 percent) have separate links on their web sites for the media (Table 3-10~. Speakers/Symposia/Forums Speakers and other in-person activities are used by about two-thirds of the respondents. About one-third have speakers on staff (Table 3-11, Table 3-12~. Public Relations Respondents whose organizations engaged in public relations were also asked to indicate which media they targeted. Once again, print media (e.g., newspapers ,, . and trade/professional journals) were cited most often (Table 3-13~. Although about two-thirds of those who engage in outreach activities use public relations, only about one-third actually have press kits (Table 3-14~. About half have met with the media to discuss their programs (Table 3-15~. TABLE 3-9 Is the web site your organization uses in its communications effort specifically designed for that effort or is the site also used for other reasons (e.g., member information)? If the same, is there a separate link or icon on the site directed at the target audience for your communications effort? Percentage Same web site Separate link No separate link Different web site No answer 79 53 26 7 14 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177.

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 27 TABLE 3-10 Is there a link or icon for the media or press on your organization's web site? Percentage Separate link for media No separate link for media No answer 39 44 17 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. TABLE 3-11 Do you participate in and/or sponsor speakers/symposia/forums? Speakers (%) Symposia (%) Forums (%) Participate only 14 6 6 Sponsor only 2 3 2 Both participate and sponsor 49 38 35 No answer 35 52 58 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. TABLE 3-12 Do you have speakers on staff? Percentage Yes No No answer 33 45 21 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. TABLE 3-13 Do you target any particular media? Percentage Newspapers Trade/professional publications Web-based media Television Radio Consumer magazines Other 58 51 40 39 36 17 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177.

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28 TABLE 3-14 Do you have a press kit? RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING Percentage Yes No No answer 3s 43 22 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. TABLE 3-15 Have you scheduled any meetings with a news organizations in the past year to explain the work of your organization or institution? Percentage Yes No No answer 48 33 19 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. TABLE 3-16 What grades are your programs designed for? Percentage a'. K-S 6-8 9-12 College Graduate school Adult 38 53 68 57 43 38 Total number of respondents with activities/programs = 177. Educational Programs for Engineering & Technology Educational programs are mostly targeted at older children especially high schoolers and undergraduates (Table 3-16~. National Engineers Week, competitions, and mentor programs are the most often mentioned educational activities (Table 3-17~. Most of the organizations with educational outreach programs have devel- oped their own materials (Table 3-18~. About two-thirds of educational activities are designed specifically to pro- mote engineering; one-third promote a general science curriculum (Table 3-19~. i

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i ;- 36 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING . The public does not know who engineers are or what they do. A coordi- nated effort to increase awareness of the industry would benefit the entire community. Society as a whole needs to have a better understanding of the role and importance of engineering and to appreciate the value and excitement of an engineering career. Engineers are a diverse group of "normal," dedi- cated individuals. The engineering discipline is not narrow or limited in scope. The profession needs better visibility. A coordinated program would bring deserved recognition of engineers as professionals and of the valuable work they do to make our world better. This might lead to a more equi- table fee structure for engineering consulting work. Providing information to a large audience is expensive, few associations have the resources to do this on their own. Most of those (minority) who do not believe a coordinated effort is necessary cited the difficulty of administering such a large program rather than citing a reason it was not needed. Typical answers are listed below: We must be careful to avoid consuming limited human resources for cooperative, coordinated efforts that are not effective. Engineering fields are too diverse to be combined in a single program. A coordinated, large-scale program would be too complicated to adminis- ter efficiently. Messages for many engineering organizations are too diverse to be coor- dinated. Most organizations operate with organization-specific goals and objec- tives. . It will be futile to try to "educate" the general public about engineering, like trying to teach a rock to talk. It would not be worth the effort because the public does not care. People do appreciate engineers but we must encourage children to enter the sciences. Most respondents also said they were prepared to participate, or at least consider participating, in a coordinated program. A few qualified their comments by indicating that a coordinated effort should complement, rather than replace their programs. They also indicated that their resources (e.g., money and staff- ing) are committed to these existing programs and are already stretched too thin (Table 3-331.

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r THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 37 TABLE 3-33 Would your organization be interested in participating in such co- ordinated communications efforts? Percentage Yes No Don't know/maybe No answer 67 16 3 14 Total number of respondents = 224. If we break down the answers to questions about a coordinated effort and the willingness to participate by the type of organization, some differences can be noted. Colleges and engineering societies are more likely to see a need for, and are more willing to participate in, a coordinated effort than industrial companies. Percentages for the categories with sufficient bases to be significant are presented in Table 3-34a. The number of respondents is shown for other categories (Table 3-34b). TABLE 3-34a Do you feel there is a need for a coordinated effort? Engineering Colleges/ Societies Industry Universities Total in percent in percent in percent in percent Is there a need? Yes 76 71 78 73 No 8 16 12 10 Don't know 4 4 No answer 12 13 10 13 Willing to participate? Yes 78 53 75 67 No 8 29 10 16 Don't know 7 3 No answer 14 11 15 14 Totals (50) (54) (60) (224) Base-Total respondents in each category as indicated

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38 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING TABLE 3-34b Actual numbers of respondents rather than percentages. Design/ Industry Education National Federal Producers/ Contacting Associations Associations Laboratones Contacts Media Museums Is there a need? Yes 9 3 4 () A A 6 No 1 Don't know 1 1 2 1 2 No answer 2 ~ 1 2 1 Willing to participate? Yes 7 1 4 8 4 4 9 No 1 3 3 1 1 Don't know 2 1 No answer 2 3 3 3 Totals (12) (7) (7) (12) (5) (4) (13) Base-Total respondents in each category as indicated INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS - ., This interpretation is based on the quantitative findings and comments on the questionnaires provided by respondents, secondary research and one-on-one in- terviews with respondents by NAE's consultants. The Effectiveness of Current Outreach Activities Conclusion 1. Grassroots involvement in outreach programs is widespread and has had some benefits. Nevertheless, these programs have not had a demonstrated impact on enrollments in engineering programs or improved the public awareness of engineering. One of the most striking findings of the NAE inventory questionnaire is the widespread awareness at the grassroots level of the negative effects of declining literacy in math and science and declining engineering enrollments in engineer- ing on U.S. competitiveness, national security, and standard of living. Some engineers noted that higher visibility and appreciation would be gratifying, but they ultimately recognized that more serious issues must be addressed. To address those issues, many programs have been initiated to reach students and spark an interest in engineering. Competitions in building bridges, cars, and robotic systems abound; some scouting programs are focused on engineering; math competitions are legion; National Engineers Week continues to attract wide- spread interest; even "camps" are focused on math and engineering. These and

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 39 many other programs are based on the same ideas showing students the applica- bility of math and science and enabling them to interact with engineers in small groups. All of these programs rely on engineers volunteering to work with students in extracurricular activities and visiting classrooms to talk about their careers. Hi: Clearly, many engineering firms and corporations respond affirmatively when they are asked by a national or local organization to donate their time and money. Many also participate in National Engineers Week, during which engi- neers visit classrooms as part of a national program. Participants in these pro- grams are uniformly enthusiastic about them and report that they enjoy interacting with students. For many firms and businesses, the underlying principle behind their participation is visibility for their organizations and an opportunity for recruiting. Several respondents noted that they track, either formally or infor- mally, the numbers of students who later intern at their organizations, pursue engineering degrees, and return to their companies to work. When asked about the need for a coordinated effort to solve the problems inherent in attracting engi- neering students, several said they would not want to give up the activities they already support to take on something new, partly because of the importance of these activities in recruiting. In many communities, these activities have been entrenched for many years, and the participants are part of a community "net- work" that makes the activities possible. Although there are a large number of grassroots activities, they have no clear effect on enrollments or increased math literacy; and, in fairness, they are not designed to do so. Contacts between engineers and students are intermittent, because many of these activities take place only once a year. The students are largely self-selected, who choose to spend their free time in these activities on an "opt-in" basis; for that reason, the programs generally appeal to students who have already shown an interest in, and an aptitude for, math. By their nature, these programs do not reach students across the spectrum of gender, race, and ethnicity, because they are available only to select schools and communities. As one respondent said, "We're talking to our sons and daughters" in these pro- grams, suggesting that many of the students who take part in these programs would find their way to math class and engineering school anyway. Most of their parents and teachers are involved and well-educated enough to steer them toward extracurricular programs that give them a chance to broaden their skills and under- standing. Conclusion 2. There is a growing realization that successful outreach to students must begin at the K-3 level. The responses to the questionnaire indicate that outreach programs are skewed toward upper grade levels. The programs mentioned above, either class- room visits as part of National Engineers Week (E-Week) or participation in

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40 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING extracurricular activities, are designed for students in the upper grades for obvi- ous reasons. As math classes become more advanced, students begin to self- select out of them. The remaining students are the ones who are capable of taking part in these academic and hands-on competitions and programs. Several respondents noted that little is being done at the elementary level even though those are the years when the foundation is laid for liking math (and science) and for believing in the possibilities of success. One respondent who volunteers in classrooms as part of her company's outreach program noted that children at the K-3 level routinely consider science and math classes as fun. By the sixth grade, however, these classes are the least favorite, and many students believe that they will not do well in these subjects. One university engineering school that teamed up with educational professionals to conduct research into math and science learning concluded that the beginnings of career pathways are in elementary school when children decide which subjects they like and will be good at. Their studies show that children who are turned off to math and science between grades 2 and 4 have made a permanent decision. On that basis, they concluded that future recruiting efforts may depend on the ability of science and engineering professionals to influence school children at an early age (Mathias- Riegel, 2001~. Many other respondents who did not have academic credentials or the ben- efit of research voiced the same opinion based on their years of volunteering with students and visiting classrooms. Repeatedly, respondents said that encouraging middle school and high school students to consider engineering careers is not effective, either because they have already made up their minds to pursue other interests, or because they are afraid they could not compete successfully in an engineering school or because they had opted out of advanced math classes early and are not prepared to pursue an engineering track. Conclusion 3. Many engineering schools are actively looking for ways to increase student enrollments; several are involved in sophisticated and cre- ative current outreach programs. Several engineering schools have undertaken impressive outreach programs and have engaged in off-campus partnerships that not only provide immediate benefits to their cities and states, but also have the potential to make long-te~m, fundamental changes. In three separate settings, two on the East Coast and one in the Midwest, engineering schools have formed partnerships with state and lo- cal institutions to expand their reach and strengthen their education offerings. One engineering school has established a successful summer camp for math stu- dents, which is significantly underwritten by the state business and corporate community. A second engineering school has formed an alliance with the state department of education and other institutions to improve the K-12 curriculum and to train current teachers to teach to those standards. A third engineering

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 41 school has entered into a regional partnership with eight other universities and the public school system in its metropolitan region to bring hundreds of students, many of them minority students, to their campuses on a year-round basis. Col- lege faculty coach the students in the math, science, and computer skills that they will need to succeed in college. In this program, the business and corporate community supplies the funds to pay the faculty for their teaching time. Conclusion 4. Many people in the engineering community advocate more visibility for engineers in television and movies. The media offer both oppor- tunities and risks. Engineers are largely absent in popular culture, which is the way many kids- and many adults receive information. Many respondents noted that movies and television shows rarely feature characters who earn their living as engineers or plots that revolve around engineering firms or situations. There was a general feeling among respondents that just a few references to engineers on prime time TV and in feature-length movies would go a long way towards raising awareness. We feel obliged to repeat the adage, "Be careful what you wish for." Prime time series that feature doctors, lawyers, emergency medical teams, and police officers rely on the truism that people who work in these jobs routinely help good people who have been hurt by situations not of their making, typically in crisis situations. Although engineers are sometimes in that position, securing a rescue site, for example, so that rescue workers can enter it safely, they are more often involved in the long-term design and planning of projects like office buildings, transportation systems, water and wastewater systems, agricultural systems, and medical equipment. To making these exciting enough for prime time viewers, plot twists could go something like this: an incompetent, unethical engineering firm on the take designs a bridge that collapses, trapping and injuring small children in school buses on the span; competent engineers secure the site for rescue workers, help carry the kids to safety, and blow the whistle on the "bad guy" engineers. Prime time shows about doctors and lawyers routinely portray lives that are ruined because of inept doctors and vicious lawyers. Nevertheless, real-life doctors, at least, consistently score high in the trust and respect category. Engi- neers, however, although respected by the public, may not have a reservoir of goodwill to sustain them, and would hardly enjoy being portrayed as vicious, incompetent, uncaring, or crooked. Television networks should be approached very carefully, with an understanding of the trade-offs between accurate portrayals and series ratings. An alternative idea is to mount a concerted campaign to influence Saturday morning programming for youngsters. Sophisticated cartoons might lend them- selves to an engineering character, plot, or references. Feature length movies may represent a real opportunity. It is suggested that

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: - 42 At: t RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING the approach be CEO to CEO. For instance, a CEO-level meeting at Disney and Pixar (which teamed to make the very popular "Toy Story") would be one avenue of pursuit; the case could be made that a positive portrayal of engineers could encourage youngsters in that direction. CEOs of engineering companies would explain the long-term implications of declining engineering enrollments, stress- ing the business issues of competitiveness, standard of living, and national security, and ask the studio to consider adding an engineering character to a movie already in development or writing an engineering character into a new script. The emphasis in any conversation should be on the highest caliber movie that would be highly profitable for the studio. Conclusion 5. Better presentations of engineers in the news media could also inform the public about infrastructure issues. Several respondents felt that the news media could make better use of engi- neers as resources, such as quotable sources of information about the engineering aspects of a story. One respondent pointed out that every month major news- papers run many stories in the metro section that would benefit from a reporter who understood engineering. Subjects include proposed transportation systems, infrastructure failures, new construction, etc. Conclusion 6. Most engineers recognize the need for the engineering profes- sion to speak and recruit with one voice and with consistent messages that will reach a wide audience. The engineering community is divided into many specialty societies and trade associations, which tend to be strongly territorial, and bringing them together into a coordinated campaign could be difficult. At the same time, there was a consen- sus among respondents that the engineering profession should advocate and recruit as one profession with one message to encourage math studies and to boost applications to engineering schools. A first step has been made by the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES), which sponsored a print ad campaign in 2001 based on the "quality of life" theme; in April 2002 AAES began a radio advertising campaign featuring "voices of innovation," descriptions of inventions that have changed our lives and our society. The 2001 ad campaign was prepared on a $250,000 grant from the United Engineering Fund, which did not include funds for pro- and post-ad testing. As a result, AAES has not been able to demonstrate the results of the campaign through changes in attitude or behavior. AAES has applied for a National Science Foundation grant to measure the results of the radio campaign. Conclusion 7. Almost no measurements of long-term outcomes have been done for outreach programs. The success of future programs will require

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Q THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 43 measurements and modifications as necessary to ensure that problems are being addressed effectively. One of the surprising findings of this study is that only a minuscule number of outreach programs objectively measure and evaluate their effectiveness. Most of them measure effectiveness by the number of people who take part, anecdotal conversations that indicate satisfaction with the program, or increased requests for participation or materials. Although these data points measure enthusiasm for programs, they do not measure whether, or how effectively, programs are chang- ing attitudes or behaviors, such as improving math literacy, increasing engineer- ing applications, or understanding more about the engineering profession and the value of engineering to society. Respondents suggested two reasons for the lack of meaningful measurement: (1) the cost is prohibitive for many organizations that must struggle to find fund- ing for programming and have none left for measurement; and (2) the grassroots nature of most outreach activities (e.g., engineers participating in local and regional programs and classrooms) makes measurement very difficult. Setting measurable objectives for future programs will be critical. This will involve setting benchmarks or baselines for various criteria at the outset of a program so that changes can be measured as the program evolves. Decades of well-intentioned, enthusiastic outreach activities at the grassroots level have made little headway in improving public attitudes. An effective coordinated effort will require measurement for two important reasons: (1) demonstrated results will establish credibility and ongoing support from the engineering community; and (2) ineffective programs can be modified to solve problems more effectively. MESSAGES "Messages" are statements that have been developed for repeated use over time. People try hard every day to get our attention, but we can only absorb so many messages and information in 24 hours. Americans are bombarded with hundreds of messages every day from family, colleagues, employers, government entities, corporations, nonprofit organizations, community organizations, and educational institutions. Those messages come in many forms conversation, post-it notes, mail, posters, telephone, hand-held wireless devices, movies, TV dramas and sitcoms, newspapers and magazines, books, e-mail, web sites, adver- tising, billboards, and others. Successful communications generally have some common characteristics, and one of them is a well-defined set of messages. Successful messages are ones people respond to in action or thought. In fact, we ignore the vast majority of messages to which we are exposed during the day. We hang up on telemarketers, flip past advertising in newspapers and magazines, change the radio and television channel, discard unsolicited postal and electronic mail without reading it, and choose not to click on advertising boxes at web sites. 1

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44 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING The organizations that are most successful at getting us to pay attention to their messages do everything in their power to increase the likelihood that their messages stand out to the people they want to reach. Messages are carefully developed and tested on selected audiences to determine if they are effective with that audience. Messages are then delivered via many channels to increase the likelihood that members of the target audience will see or hear them. And they are delivered on a regular and consistent basis, repeated consistently and repeat- edly so people are exposed to them enough to finally accept them, understand them, and be influenced by them. Extensive research on the target audience is ongoing to make sure the messages are reaching them. Developing messages about engineering for the general public has been chal- lenging because the public understands very little about engineers and what they do. In research with focus groups for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) by Market Research Bureau, it was learned that the language engineers use to describe their work is not understood by the public. That finding alone could explain why the public is not knowledgeable about engineering. Even the word "engineer" was hard for people to define because of the wide variety of people who have been labeled "engineers": sanitation engineers, facilities engineers, domestic engineers, Novell-certified engineers, computer engineers, genetic engineers, and so on. Focus group members indicated that the word engineer had been used in so many ways that it had ceased to have real currency as meaning someone in a respected and valued profession. The phrase "the built environment" had no meaning for people, who had to be cued as to its meaning. A discussion of how engineers contribute to the quality of life brought the wrong reactions. The list of people who contribute to quality of life included babysitters, plumbers, garbage collectors, postal carriers, news- paper deliverers, and many others. Engineers were on the list but probably not in the top 50. As one respondent pointed out, quality of life is a state of mind that is based more on levels of traffic congestion than the utility of the bridge or road on which you are stuck. That same respondent noted that engineers make significant contributions to standards of living, which may be what engineers mean when they talk about quality of life. To the focus groups, attributing quality of life to engineers seemed to be overstating the case. In addition, the important audience of K-12 students have trouble relating to this message because they have little control over their quality of life and are not likely to be interested in the societal contributions of engineering. The question remains what credible and compelling messages the engineer- ing community can deliver. Respondents to the NAE questionnaire said that consistent messaging across the engineering community would be one benefit of a coordinated campaign. Some of the respondents provided thoughtful messages that would probably resonate with a variety of target audiences. The consultants (from Market Research Bureau and McMahon Communications), who had brain- . ~

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING SURVEY OF PUBLIC AWARENESS 45 storming sessions on engineering messages in the past, agreed that the messages suggested by respondents to the questionnaire include some that could be very effective in promoting engineering as a career and raising awareness of engineering. The messages collected from the questionnaires can be tested with appropri- ate audiences for their receptivity and credibility. It is important that messages be thoroughly tested because the selected messages will underpin any communica- tions efforts. Once the testing has been done, the message set can be dissemi- nated within the engineering community, along with objective data to support its adoption by the community for all outreach activities. The testing and adoption of a set of messages would have a direct and immediate benefit to the engineering community. Respondents suggested all of the familiar messages about engineering, but also some that expressed traditional messages in a new way or presented an entirely new perspective. The most promising of these are listed below. From these, we believe a compelling set of messages could be developed and used to the advantage of the entire engineering community. Each message is listed only once but might be appropriate for more than one audience. Messages for Students An engineering education is valuable as the basis for a variety of careers. Engineering offers challenges, excitement, opportunities, and satisfaction. Engineering is worthwhile, challenging, fun, and within reach. . s An engineering career provides flexibility that allows for family life choices and helping people. It's not as complicated as you think. Anyone can understand the prin- . ~ . . Clp. .es of englneermg. Engineering is a collection of diverse fields that need people with diverse talents, experiences, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. Math (and science and technology) literacy will open doors in your future. Math is the alphabet of science and engineering. The excitement of engineering is that engineers create "something that has not been" for the good of humanity. Engineering includes a variety of fields of study and occupations. Math is challenging. Competition is not limited to sports. Engineers are not what people expect. Engineering is a springboard to many career opportunities. Messages for Parents, Teachers, and Guidance Counselors Students must take the tough courses if they want to enter a college of . . englneerlng.

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46 RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING Engineering features low unemployment, and engineers are creative and human. If you like math, you'll love engineering. If you like solving problems, wait till you hear what engineers can do. Engineering offers a lifetime of interesting work. Messages for the Engineering Community (for internal use by trade associations and professional societies and for recruiting at the college level) Engineering is a core competency necessary to solve the complex tech- nical and environmental challenges facing our customers and stakeholders. _ . . . . ~ r . ~ng1neermg IS a Ion s profession. . Engineering provides innovative solutions to societal problems. Engineers make use of both old and new knowledge to solve practical problems. Engineering plays an influential role in the burgeoning fields of bioethics, national security, and others. Engineering is a profession for leaders. . Messages for Policy Makers and Opinion Leaders i ., Engineers are responsible for the high standard of living in the United States. Engineering builds societies. Engineering advances economies. Engineering is integral to society's progress and a country's ability to produce wealth. The United States can't expect to continue to solve its problems by importing technical talent from developing countries. Engineers are technology-literate citizens. Global competitiveness demands that many of the best and brightest . students enroll in engineering. If engineering enrollments continue to decline, our nation will face a severe competitive and economic crisis. REFERENCE Mathias-Riegel, B. 2001. Engineering that's elementary. Prism 10(7):34-36.