Engineer Your Life (The Blog)

As the summer winds down and school days approach, we’re sharpening our pencils and thinking about getting back to class. Being on campus. Which made us think. We talk a lot about engineering as a career, how interesting it is, how enjoyable, how important. Yet we have not said enough about the process of becoming an engineer, how that in and of itself is a journey different from what one might think.

Like the field of engineering, the course of study that goes along with engineering is misunderstood and riddled with misconceptions of long, lonely nights in the computer lab or dry projects drowning in numbers and formulas. Yes, engineering is a course of study rooted in mathematics and theory, yet it is also a creative major filled with opportunities to create and explore.

Take Harvard. Harvard’s engineering program promises students they can be “part Einstein and part Edison.” We like that. And we all know the good people in Cambridge  Massachusetts know what they are talking about.  There’s group projects, interactivity, creative problem solving, the chance to study abroad and a future after college filled with lucrative, meaningful job opportunities.

Take a look at what the course of study really is like when you study engineering at school. It’s probably a little different than you think. It’s more than your hands on a computer or your fingers on a protractor. It’s a hands dirty, fingers on the pulse type field. Check out what these real life female engineering students have to say about it.

It’s fun. It’s cool. And it’s something we’re betting you just might like. Think about it. Look into it.

Dream big. Love what you do. Engineer Your Life.

BTW, have you taken the Pledge? Do you want to help promote engineering as a career and a major and get other girls on board? Then “like” our Facebook page and take the pledge!!/pages/The-Engineers-Pledge/139865679358530?ref=ts

Now, this is cool.

Engineers make things. We all know that. Yet, what engineers make most is a difference. They conceive, create and design technologies and applications that change people’s lives. Here at WGBH, they’re doing it at the Most Magical Place on Earth. Where you wish upon a star. The mouse’s house. Disney World.   

Ah, can’t you just see it now. The character shaped balloons swaying on Main Street, Cinderella’s castle sparkling in the distance.  

But wait. Pause for a moment.   

Have you ever thought what it might be like being at Disney World if you couldn’t see?   

For those without sight, Disney World is a very different experience. Helping these guests take in the wonder of the park is something that requires some creative thinking on the part of some of Walt Disney World’s most magical cast members; the engineers.   

Working with some of my (amazing) colleagues here at WGBH, Disney’s engineers have come up with an innovative solution to the challenge of helping blind guests enjoy the park more fully. The device, a handheld navigation and audio guide, provides detailed descriptions of the physical makeup of the park, from the practical (aka “turn left here” type stuff) to the magical (an elaborate description of Fantasyland). 

Check out this cool youtube video for more information.

We told you it was cool. 

PS Feeling warm and fuzzy about the field of engineering? Wish you could do something to help spread the word that engineering rocks? Then take the Engineer’s Pledge, our new initiative to help support the field of engineering by banishing stereotypes and polishing its image.Go to our Pledge Facebook page and “like it.”  Thanks much. Dream Big. Disney big. Love what you do. Engineer Your Life. 






EYL troops; today, we must admit. We’re tired.

We’re tired of the notion that girls have to be one or the other. That we have to be a beauty OR an intellectual. That we have to be an athlete OR a ballerina. That we couldn't possibly know how to expertly apply both lipstick and a scientific theory. That we can’t hold a baby in the morning and a board meeting in the afternoon. 

Puh-leeze. After a while this all starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Waah, Waah waah waah……

This is 2010. Two-thousand-and-ten. Well into the 21st century. Yeah. And sadly enough, these foolish, outdated, stifling notions still seem to creep into society and the minds of both young (and old) girls and boys.

It’s crazy talk. Ignore it.

If you're ever feeling tired of the babble, think about the following:

  • For almost 200 years the Supreme Court did not have one female on its bench. By the end of this week, they’ll most likely be three. (NY Times)
  • The author Jhumpa Lahiri (who looks like a movie star) received a Pulitzer Prize, a PEN/Hemingway Award, a Guggenheim fellowship and a James Beard award for her book Interpreter of Maladies. It was her first book.
  • Long distance runner Pamela Reed once ran 300 miles without sleep. Her male counterpart, Dean Karnazes, has twice attempted to run 300 miles without sleep — and failed. Pamela has five kids.

  • Marissa Meyer, Google’s first female engineer, helps run one of the most powerful countries in the world. She has been compared to Grace Kelly for her elegance. She has been featured in Vogue and Glamour. She is 35 years old.

  • Maya Angelou was the first poet to speak at an inauguration since Robert Frost spoke at JFK’s. She isn’t really interested in people telling her she has to be one thing or the other. When asked who her first male love interest was, she has been known to answer “Mr. William Shakespeare.”

Ok, we’re awake now. We hope you are too. And trust us, there are many, many, many more examples of women who perk us up better than a jolt of caffeine.

So, remember. You are not cardboard cutouts or cartoon characters. You are not a stereotype or somebody else’s notion of who you should be. Remember that endless, boundless possibilities await you girls next year, the next ten years, and for the rest of your life.

You know we are going to say next. Dream Big. Love what you do. Engineer Your Life.




Hi blog readers and future engineers,

We know you’re right there along with us in our mission to change the way people think, and talk, about engineering. Well, it’s time to take our relationship to the next level.

Let’s make it official. 

Last week we introduced the Engineer’s Pledge. Engineer’s Pledge, meet our blog readers. Blog readers, meet the Engineer’s Pledge.

The pledge is a promise. It is a pinky swear to the field of engineering. It is a decision to put our money where our mouth is. Engineers, professors, students, supporters—let’s do this. Here it is:

The Engineer’s Pledge

Change the way you talk about engineering. Take the Engineer’s Pledge.

 I will:

·                     Tell people about the creative aspects engineering 

·                     Promote the collaborative nature of engineering

·                     Talk about how engineering makes a difference

In less than a week, over 400 people have taken the pledge. We think that is a great sign and an encouraging trend. Let's keep it going. The old saying that there is strength in numbers is, well, true.

So, go to our Facebook page (please) and “like” it. That’s it. You’ve pledged. You feel better already, huh?
We had a lot of response and feedback yesterday when we posted a great little quote about engineering. The quote, widely re-used and distributed in the engineering world, goes a little something like this:

"Some say the glass is half full. Others say it is half empty. Engineers say the glass is too big."

Cute, right? We were talking a little more about the quote at Engineer Your Life this week and realized the quote is more than cute. It does well to sum up a lot of the characteristics of engineering that often go unseen. While some think (wrongly) that engineering is a lot about quiet folks being hunched over desks crunching numbers or working alone on computers, it is more about looking at things from a different perspective.

It's about realizing that often the answer isn't as obvious or limiting as one might think. Seeking new possibilities for old problems. Having a healthy skepticism about what might seem obvious or accepted. Carving new paths. Building something out of nothing. Fixing things. Solving problems. Making a difference. Building the future, literally. 

Next time you hear or read something about engineering that is more along the lines of just "half full or half empty", urge them to think again. To think differently. To not assume it's the lack of water, but that it is just too much darn glass.

Before you go, check out this hilarious, ingenious story of an engineering student and the very creative answer he had to an actual exam question. 

Dream big. Love what you do. Engineer Your Life. 
A couple of weeks ago Engineer Your Life was introduced to a silly, fun, interesting and inspiring new web community, Smart Girls at the Party. After attending this "party" for a while, we had to tell you more. This is one party you want to be at.

The site celebrates girls and the power of intelligence, working hard to be the antithesis of the countless "tween" and teen web sites aimed at girls that focus only on celebrities, pop culture, gossip and appearance. Boring, boring, boring.

We've heard enough about Lindsay Lohan and Twilight (sorry girls, haven't we? really?) for a lifetime. Let's direct our energy towards something more interesting--us! This community manages to be nerdy in the coolest of ways. Smart but never dorky. Inspiring but not sappy. 

Comedian Amy Poehler and her friends Meredith Walker and Amy Miles, started the site to convince girls once and for all that being smart is cool. The site is filled with videos, chats, how-tos and the opportunity to meet and friend smart, cool, fun girls just like you. 

Check out one of our favorite videos, an engineer named Rachel. She is 12 years old and makes robots with her bare hands. Coooool.

As Smart Girls at the Party reminds us "smart girls have more fun" and you can "change the world by being yourself."

Duh, we knew that!

But thanks for the reminder ;)
One of our favorite advocates of science, technology, engineering and math, The Girl Scouts, just got a makeover. The world's largest organization for girls, got a new "do" and a forward facing look at the 21st century, literally, check it out  at:

As for the look in action, explore their STEM programs here:

The logos, which have stood strong since the late seventies, were updated to more closely mirror the modern gal. It's an update and a look that all of us at Engineer Your Life are excited about. To us it feels strong, confident and ready to take on the world. It represents a well rounded girl that does a lot more than just selling cookies.

And that makes US happy campers ;)

Engineers: ever look at something someone has thrown away and wish it had a second (or third) life? Ever imagine simple, inventive solutions to big problems? Ever feel like you have an award winning invention just waiting to be brought to life?

Well, it’s time to put all that good thinking in motion. 

WGBH’s engineering focused reality show, Design Squad, recently launches its second annual Trash to Treasure contest. The challenge is to find everyday discarded materials (aka trash, duh) and turn them into something innovative that helps people and our planet. Twenty-five finalists will be featured on Design Squad’s popular web site, and three winners will travel to Boston to have their designs brought to life by Continuum, an award winning design consultancy.

Last year’s winner, Max Wallack, created a design shelter for the homeless out of trash bags and wire hangers. Think you have an idea as good as that? Show us!

Click here to get started. We can't wait to see what you've got. 

Dream big. Love what you do. And win!
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Break out the balloons and candles. Washington DC’s brilliant baby, the legislation we know as Title IX, turned 38 this week. The law, which was written to “prohibit sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities,” was set into action after decades of inequality and frustration surrounding the inequality in education programs and activities supported by federal money.


The legislation, which is often associated only with athletics, also supports equality in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. Since the legislation passed 38 years ago, our friends at AAUW (formerly the American Association of University Women) tell us that participation by girls in sports has increased 900 percent. Wow.


The percentages in STEM related education programs and careers aren’t as impressive. AAUW’s report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" tells us that only 25% these fields are filled by women. All of us at Engineer Your Life think we can change that. So, EYL troops, urge Congress to enforce the law, ask where the STEM programs are in school, and think about careers where you can rock your STEM educations.  

Dream big girls! Love what you do. Engineer Your Life.
It is a good thing I love my job, because, if not, I would be applying to work at Arup, one of the coolest companies I have stumbled across. I spend my days searching for the coolest people, companies, universities, and projects in engineering and this one jumped out. I mean, check this place OUT….the projects, the people, and even the web site scream “cool, cool, cool.”

Want to travel the globe while working on the hottest museums, universities, hotels, airlines out there? Try Arup. They have offices in 33 countries. 33. Oh, I can just see your jet-setting lifestyle now. 

In addition to the hip world of hotel and aviation design, Arup has worked on some of the biggest eco projects in the world

And guess what? They have a great internship program that spans the globe. Check it out. And leave room in your suitcase for me!

That's all for today engineers...think of companies like Arup and continue to Dream Big and Love What You do.

Happy exploring from all of us at Engineer Your Life