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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Bridging the STEM Gap by Inspiring Students Carolyn Mathas

(Source: Monkey Business -

The “E” in STEM stands for Engineering. Engineers know that the “E” is in everything we use, from cars and bridges to video games and computers. So, how do we engage the next generation of engineers? By early exposure and hands-on programs that generate interest and reveal opportunities to solve real-world problems through engineering.

Still, there are hurdles to overcome in order to guide students today down the engineering path and open doors for next-generation solutions. Many actually do not understand what engineering is, or they believe they are not good enough at math to pursue a career in engineering.

These barriers can be shattered, but it involves hearing the right message and accessing engineering role models and mentors, especially if they're from historically underrepresented groups. Students need to understand that engineering is open to everyone and involves several levels of expertise. Engineers are respected, and there's a chance to see the effects of their work in everyday life. Students should be shown that having a wild imagination can be a valuable asset in this career. The skills honed through following an engineering educational path—especially creative problem-solving, exposure to various solutions, and a team approach to brainstorming—are all key strategies to bridging the STEM gap.

That's the purpose of Engineers Week 2024, which will run from February 18 to 24. Under the banner of “Welcome to the Future,” the week is dedicated to celebrating achievements while promoting a brighter and more diverse future in engineering. Engineers Week is about exploring not only how engineers shape advancements in technology, but also revealing the possibilities for the next engineering workforce.

DiscoverE, the organization behind Engineers Week, stresses the “E” in STEM via free hands-on engineering activities, lesson plans, information about engineering education, including how to work towards a technical career. DiscoverE focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion through coalition building and accessible programs and resources for volunteers and educators.

Engineers Week showcases engineers who already make a difference in our world and reaches out to students to create curiosity and foster an interest in joining the ranks of engineers. This event aims to convey to kids today that engineering is a respected field, and those who choose to pursue engineering have an opportunity to see how their work overcomes obstacles we face in everyday life and fosters future technological advancements.

Engineers Week delivers what students need to get hooked by STEM, attracting and molding the next generation of engineers. Not only does it challenge students to consider engineering, but it also challenges engineers to get out of their comfort zone, become active, and inspire students to pursue STEM—particularly those from underrepresented groups.

This year’s edition of Engineers Week sets out to influence students in four key steps that, when combined, go far to build a child's STEM identity. These include:

  • Deliver an engineering vision for the future
  • Present engineering design processes
  • Highlight leading STEM design
  • Be a role model

The program highlights project-based learning that allows students to apply their knowledge in real-world situations. According to a study in the Journal of STEM Education, students participating in these types of active learning experiences are more likely to engage in STEM subjects and understand the material[i]. Students who might have struggled in more traditional STEM classes tend to be more engaged and interested when STEM is presented in a more interactive way that promotes hands-on learning with real-world modeling and examples.

The Engineers Week Toolbox

Engineers Week 2024 provides tools for educator and volunteer involvement through innovative planning guides and downloadable resources covering events and activities. This year also features Spanish resources and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!

For educators, the planning guides and resources include more than 170 free activities to help attract students to engineering in classrooms, afterschool settings, and related group settings. Volunteers have their own guides that show how to inspire a student by sharing what engineering is all about. And with Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, STEM role models have the opportunity to inspire a girl's future by facilitating engineering activities that show girls how engineers change our world. Check out the Downloadable Resources that are available for the week and beyond.

Fostering a foundation for multi-faceted STEM movement will bring opportunities that might be difficult to achieve in many other fields, given the country's reliance on STEM today. While there is much to be celebrated during Engineers Week, it is also important to step up throughout the year whenever possible to continue to impact a student's STEM success.


When a STEM gap exists, it excludes many students from in-demand jobs that focus on solving real-world issues and advancing technology. If left unaddressed, the gap will negatively impact how we handle our technological future, especially given the nation's shortage of qualified STEM workers. It’s time to do better.

How we talk about engineering opportunities is essential. There needs to be a welcoming and inclusive environment from K-12 schools to colleges and universities. Research shows that students exposed to more interactive STEM environments have a more positive perception of STEM and are more motivated to pursue these educational and career paths[ii]. Efforts such as Engineers Week 2024 are fantastic opportunities for all of us.

Welcome students to the future! Ignite passion by sharing your own story. It's a great time to be an engineer—now pass it on…

Key Dates + Hashtags

#WelcometotheFuture Kick Off

Sunday, February 18: #Eweek2024

Tuesday, February 20: #FutureCity2024 Finals

Thursday, February 22: Celebrate #GirlDay2024

Saturday, February 24: Last Day of #Eweek2024

Monday, March 4: Celebrate #WorldEngineeringDay



[i] Brown, Patrick L., James P. Concannon, Donna Marx, et al. “An Examination of Middle School Students’ STEM Self-Efficacy with Relation to Interest and Perceptions of STEM.” Journal of STEM Education 17.3 (2016).

[ii] Roberts, Thomas, Christa Jackson, Margaret J. Mohr-Schroeder, et al. “Students’ perceptions of STEM learning after participating in a summer informal learning experience.” IJ STEM Ed 5, 35 (2018).

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Carolyn Mathas is a freelance writer/site editor for United Business Media’s EDN and EE Times, IHS 360, and AspenCore, as well as individual companies. Mathas was Director of Marketing for Securealink and Micrium, Inc., and provided public relations, marketing and writing services to Philips, Altera, Boulder Creek Engineering and Lucent Technologies. She holds an MBA from New York Institute of Technology and a BS in Marketing from University of Phoenix.

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