Exposure to Engineering doubles teens' career interest

Intel survey finds job variety and earning power motivate U.S. teens to consider engineering as a career

Comments Off on Exposure to Engineering doubles teens' career interest December 6, 2011
by Design Engineering Staff

According to a survey commissioned by Intel Corporation, a lack of familiarity with the engineering profession is a significant barrier to getting teenagers interested in the career. Yet, exposure to any facts about engineering, including they do and how much money they can make, leads more than half to consider a career in engineering.

For example, 61 percent of teens are more likely to consider engineering after learning that engineering majors make an average annual income of US$75,000, according to the survey. In addition, more than 50 percent are persuaded by the fact that the unemployment rate amongst engineers in the U.S. is more than 4 percentage points lower than the national rate.

The majority of teens are also influenced by understanding what engineers do, such as playing a role in rescuing the Chilean miners who were trapped in 2010, delivering clean water to poor communities in Africa, designing the protective pads worn by athletes and constructing dams and levees that keep entire cities safe.

Highlights of the Intel sponsored study include:

  • A critical step to creating more engineers is nurturing an interest in high school, or earlier, so there is a healthy pool of engineering students entering college.
  • Programs such as robotics and science competitions offer teens the real-world, hands-on experience with engineering that improves the likelihood that they will get hooked on the subject and pursue it in college.
  • While the majority of teens have not considered a career in engineering, those that have are motivated by their perception that it will be interesting.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of teens have never considered a career in engineering.
  • Twenty percent of teens have no idea about engineering’s impact on the world.
  • Almost one-third (29 percent) of teens don’t know of potential job opportunities in engineering and 13 percent do not think that majoring in engineering in college will lead to any more job opportunities than any other major.
  • 74 percent of teens that have considered engineering, have done so because they think the field would be interesting, perhaps because they are more aware of the impact engineers have on the world.

From the survey results, Intel found that there are ways parents and teachers can help teens consider a career in engineering:

  • Focus on helping teens understand what being an engineer is all about.
  • Don’t dumb down what engineers do. Try to reframe the difficulty of engineering as a positive challenge, a badge of honor to be worn proudly when successful.
  • Make engineering feel less remote and more personal. Give a face to engineers to help inspire and create a sense that “if they can do it, I can do it.”
  • Up-weight the emotional appeal of engineering. The societal benefits of what engineers do, like preventing disasters or generating cleaner electricity, are particularly resonant with teens that have never considered engineering before.

This survey of U.S. teenagers was conducted online between Oct. 11 and 18, 2011 by Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of Intel. Participants included 1,004 teenagers ages 13 to 18. Demographics were aligned as closely as possible to U.S. Census data. The margin of error is +/- 3.06 percent.