Taking a Test Drive
Why wait? There are lots of things you can do now to find out if engineering is a good fit for you. Check out the ideas below and give them a try. You’ll have fun, you’ll learn about yourself and your goals, you’ll gain a richer perspective about the world of engineering, and maybe even boost your college application!
See What’s Up at Your High School
Take a look at your high school’s courses and programs to see what’s available that could give you a sneak peek. Some schools offer Technology Education/pre-engineering programs, such as Project Lead the Way which provides interesting hands-on engineering experiences. Even if your school doesn’t offer engineering-related programs, talk to your counselor or teachers in the math and science departments about what other opportunities might be available, including after-school programs, workshops, contests, or special events.
Attend a Summer or After-School Program
There are short-term programs that will allow you to actively experience engineering firsthand, make new friends, and have a fantastic time. A good place to start looking for opportunities is the Engineering Education Service Center’s database of pre-engineering summer camps where you can do a quick search by state. You can also check out the Society of Women Engineers' calendar for fun engineering events with practicing engineers nationwide. And be sure to research Web sites of local colleges, universities, and high schools to see what after-school, summer, and pre-college programs they may offer.
Design Squad is a PBS television show in which eight high school contestants tackle engineering challenges for an actual client. In the final episode, the top two scorers battle for the Grand Prize—a $10,000 college scholarship. The Design Squad Web site offers plenty of information for high-school age kids about engineering.
Take a Tour
It’s easy to arrange a tour of the engineering program at a college or university in your area, or even to visit a local engineering or design firm. Your school counselor may be able to help you set up a tour
Talk to an Engineer or Engineering Student
Talk to an engineering student or professional, whether it’s over e-mail, lunch, or in a formal mentoring or job-shadowing situation. You’ll find many enthusiastic and willing hosts.
Enter a Contest
Lots of engineering societies, schools, and organizations sponsor competitions that allow high school students to experience the engineering design process as they try to solve interesting problems. For a sample of what’s out there, check out the Engineering Education Service Center’s list of Pre-Engineering Competitions.
Consider an Internship or Part-Time/Summer Job
Explore opportunities for internships (paid or unpaid), part-time work, or summer jobs at engineering schools or companies. Job opportunities often appear on an organization’s Web site, but you may also be able to find information through your school’s guidance office or your local library.
Back to top