Messaging for Engineering: From Research to Action
For those in the broad engineering community--those who employ, work with, and/or educate engineers, and engineers themselves--there is no need to explain the importance and value of engineering. They understand that engineers help make the world a better place for all, that they regularly grapple with important societal and environmental issues, and that the engineering process is every bit as creative as composing a symphony or crafting a piece of art. But the situation outside the engineering community is quite different. Studies have shown that most K-12 students and teachers have a limited appreciation of all the ways that engineering makes their lives better and, furthermore, that they have little understanding of what engineers do or of the opportunities that an engineering education offers.
Messaging for Engineering supports efforts by the engineering community to communicate more effectively about the profession and those who practice it. This report builds on the 2008 NAE publication, Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering (CTC), which presented the results of a research-based effort to develop and test new, more effective messages about engineering.
The new messages cast engineering as inherently creative and concerned with human welfare, as well as an emotionally satisfying calling. This report summarizes progress in implementing the CTC messages, but also recognizes that there is potential to galvanize additional action and thus suggests specific steps for major players in the engineering community to continue and build on progress to date. Many of the report's recommendations resulted from discussion at a December 2010 committee workshop that involved several dozen high-level decision makers representing key stakeholder groups in the engineering community.