HOW DO I GET THERE FROM HERE?

So you’re hooked on engineering. But how do you actually get to be an engineer. Well, there’s that college degree you’ll need. But that’s a long way off. There are plenty of things you can do right now to get a jump on it.

Probably the most important four letters you need to know: STEM, short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s a nation-wide program to encourage young people to prepare for technical careers, and teaches all those subjects in an integrated way, with a lot of hands-on projects. Run, don’t walk, to any STEM courses your school offers.

Remember, the main building blocks for an engineering career are math and science. So max out those courses. Add some chemistry and computer courses. Don’t forget English—you’ll need to write well. And foreign language courses—you never know where you’ll end up in an engineering career.

There’s a lot of engineering outside school, too. Science museums, for example, and mentoring programs, and competitions. You’ll be coached by the best teachers you could have: professional engineers.

First LEGO League

Coaches help you research a real-world problem like food safety or recycling, and develop a program to solve it. And you get to be on a team that designs, constructs, programs and tests a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot. Fun or what?! www.firstlegoleague.org

Be a Mathlete

Move over athletes, here come the mathletes! Be one of the more than 500,000 middle schoolers who compete in MATHCOUNTS, a math competition at the school, local, state, and yes, national level. If the idea of setting a world’s record for the fastest ever time (6 minutes, 16.57 seconds) to set up a human formation for the first 25 rows of Pascal’s triangle appeals to you, check out MATHCOUNTS, because that’s actually what happened at a national competition! www.mathcounts.org

Design a City

Ever think to yourself: “If this were my city,
I’d change a lot of things”? Here’s your chance: Future City Competition, a program of DiscoverE. Middle schoolers design their own city first on the computer, then in a 3-D,
large-scale model. And it’s a competition, played to the finish in Washington DC.  www.futurecity.org

Engineers Week

Don’t miss it! Every February all across the country, engineers show their stuff in classrooms, museums, malls, and contests. You might even be invited to shadow an engineer on a real life project. Check out what’s happening where you live. You’ll also find fun activities and projects for the other 51 weeks of the year. www.eweek.org

ACE Mentor Program

If you’re in high school, and you’re serious about a civil engineering career, ACE is the place for you. ACE mentors—architects, engineers, construction managers—show you the real world ropes. You’ll see how they actually plan, design, and construct a project, and you can visit your mentor’s office and tour a project site. www.acementor.org