WT and Tech Profs Working to Change Engineering Image with Children’s Books

Dec 4, 2013

Credit overstock.com

Ask kids what an engineer is, and they’ll say someone who drives a train or they simply don’t know.  That’s what WT associate professor of mechanical engineering Emily Hunt and Michelle Pantoya, a mechanical engineering professor at Texas Tech University, found when they did a survey.  So, the duo decided to start building awareness in science, technology, engineering, and math careers-- by writing children’s books. 

Designing Dandelions is the second book written by the pair.  It is about two aliens who crash land on Earth and use problem-solving skills to make it back home.  The book teaches what a STEM career is.  The target audience is fourth through sixth graders.  

“What we really wanted to do is teach the engineering design process — planning, creating and always improving,” Pantoya said, adding that they also incorporated life sciences curriculum.

“If can’t impress on them what a fun career engineering is at a young age, we might be losing the large potential of a generation who could change the future,” she said.

“Early on, we at least need to teach kids what engineering is, so they have more information to work with,” Hunt said. “I think a lot of time, they don’t choose engineering, because they think they would be doing things that are not necessarily appealing to young kids, especially females. We wanted to find a way to show them the fun, exciting things engineers can do.”

The number of STEM career options is on the rise, and by 2011, one in five jobs in the United States required STEM-field knowledge, according to a study from the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization.