Math

Building Blocks of an Engineering Career

Guest Author – Marva Morrow, Energy Education Consultant

What is your response when a child or student says “I like to build…” or “I want to build (blank) when I grow up?” Would your first reaction be to tell the child about engineering? The fact is, many people don’t connect engineering to these kinds of teachable moments. It’s a lost opportunity to introduce even small children to a rewarding career.

Here’s a way you can respond: Engineers are trail blazers! They do exciting things like design and create buildings, bridges, and low carbon cities. Engineers are people who solve problems and make things work.

There are over 200 types of engineering! This has lead to some confusion among students. Just like sports can be grouped into areas like football, baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, etc., the different types of engineering can be grouped into specializations: chemical, civil, electrical, engineering management, engineering sciences, geotechnical, mechanical, petroleum, and many others.

Engineers use innovation and creative ideas. Then they apply the principals of science and math to develop solutions to problems. Engineers make and maintain things with a practical purpose. Many engineers develop new products. During the process, they consider several factors. For example, in developing an industrial robot, engineers specify the functional requirements precisely; design and test the robot’s components; integrate the components to produce the final design; and evaluate the design’s overall effectiveness, cost, reliability, and safety. This process applies to the development of many different products, such as chemicals, computers, power plants, helicopters, and toys.

Become an engineer and love your work, live your life, be creative, work with great people, solve problems, design things that matter, never be bored, make a big salary, enjoy job flexibility, travel, make a difference and change the world!

Learn more about engineering careers!

World Cup Can Boost Math Skills

Using math during summer activities can keep skills sharp. And, let’s face it; math isn’t usually the first thing on a kid’s mind during summer vacation.

Sporting events, like the World Cup, make it easy to apply math while having fun. Any game that keeps score uses math. Which team is most likely to win?  Determine the probability by dividing the number of times that the team has won by the total number of events.

Ever noticed how a soccer ball (football) is made from several flat shapes? Kids can learn basic geometry by cutting and sewing pieces of cloth together and filling it with a soft material to make an indoor ball. By the way, did you know the shape of a soccer ball is called a “truncated icosahedron?”  You’re kids probably didn’t know either! Look it up with them and find out what it means.

Any geometry whizzes out there? Think from a goalkeeper’s perspective: if an attacking player approaches, where does the goalkeeper stand to prevent a score? How far in front of the goal? What would the position be to maximize reach while diving forward towards the ball rather than sideways? When positioned far from the goal, a goalkeeper can get a single player’s ball more easily, but the attacking player can more easily kick the ball over the goalkeeper. If a second opponent approaches at the same time, that player has a free path to the goal. Whew – that’s a lot of math!

If calculus is your thing, soccer matches are filled with complex aerodynamics. Analyze the way balls curve and swerve through the air. The shape and surface of a soccer ball, and its initial orientation, play a fundamental role in its trajectory. For example, the seams of a soccer ball cause more turbulence than would a perfectly smooth sphere with no seams.

Find more ideas from the NY Times for teaching and learning with the World Cup.