asq_logo_smlA Harris study commissioned by the American Society for Quality shows an alarming trend among young people away from careers in engineering. In fact, the overall finding of the recent series of surveys of U.S. middle school and high school students was that fully 85 per cent of kids who are starting to think about their future careers are ‘not interested in engineering … for a variety of reasons’.

We wonder how greatly excessive exposure to Dilbert cartoons may have contributed to the next generation’s overwhelming aversion to engineering careers. Alas, that question was not directly addressed in the survey.

The key reasons students did cite in reference to their bias against engineering include:

  • Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 per cent).
  • Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 per cent).
  • They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 per cent) to be good at it — despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 per cent) and science (17 per cent) as their favorite subjects.

But it’s not just the kids who are contributing to the decline in interest in engineering careers. Parents who were polled in a parallel survey revealed an aversion of their own to engineering. Only 20 per cent of those asked said they had encouraged their kids to consider engineering careers. Yet the vast majority of parents The vast majority of parents (97 per cent) said they believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.

As for the traditional perception that there’s a gender divide in favour of males in the engineering sector… Girls surveyed said that the last thing their parents were likely to encourage them to become was an engineer. And five times as many boys as girls indicated an interest in engineering career.

“Educators and engineers need to work more closely together to get students excited about the profession and spotlight interesting role models,” Maurice Ghysels, Chair of ASQ’s K-12 Education Advisory Committee, observed.

Get the details on the survey at the ASQ Web site.

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