Recruiting Students for Engineering

This afternoon I was at Valley State (oops) CSUN for a meeting of the Industry Advisory Board for the School of Engineering and Computer Science. One subject we discussed was how to convince students in high schools and middle schools in the valley to consider careers in engineering and computer science. I mention this because of an article in today’s New York Times about fundamental shifts in the job market. Jobs are going away in this market… and unlike in other markets, these jobs are simply not coming back. There are many industries where there are fundamental shifts in the number and jobs out there. Newspapers are one: jobs in journalism are going to be very different in the future than they used to be. Manufacturing, especially the automotive industry, will be the same way. We’re going to see contractions in such manufacturing and sales that will never come back in the same way that they once were. Same thing with financial services: you’re going to see fundamental changes in the loan origination market. I’m sure this has happened before: where are the buggy manufacturers? Where are the town blacksmiths?

In any case, this article got me thinking about the original question. Engineering jobs: be it computer science, electrical engineering, civil engineering, engineering management, etc., are not going away. Just as Northrop Grumman out here is getting rid of 750 administrative job, they are looking to hire over 800 technical positions. So how to we convince students in middle school and high school to consider technical careers? In particular, how to we encourage minorities to go into these careers? The percentages of women in engineering and CS is at best static. I don’t know about other minorities, but I don’t believe they are rising. So how do we get people to go technical?