Education Letter to the Editor

K-12 Engineering Plans Need Support to Succeed

October 19, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Paula M. Hudis, in her letter to the editor on recent recommendations from the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council (Sept. 30, 2009), cites the growth of multidisciplinary engineering lessons as a way of increasing the number of high school students interested in engineering careers, and of addressing the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the field.

But Ms. Hudis’ comments do not go far enough if efforts in this area are to be successful and sustainable.

For more than a decade, the Polytechnic Institute of New York University has led an initiative to involve New York City’s elementary, middle, and high school students in engineering studies and applied sciences. In partnership with US FIRST, a nonprofit organization with similar goals, we have sponsored robotics competitions for several thousand students that have required months of scientific study, preparation, and planning.

One of the challenges we have identified in our programs is the need to provide additional training for teachers, who often lack familiarity with what engineers do or have insufficient knowledge about current advances in technology, a necessity for anyone practicing applied science.

Intensive teacher-development programs, such as a research program in mechatronics we have offered for the past two summers, are sorely needed. Our Engineers of the Future program, offered to 20 teachers two summers ago, was the catalyst for at least one district’s adoption of a pre-engineering syllabus, but it could not be sustained when the state discontinued its funding after only a year.

Though there are still ongoing hands-on activities offered to teachers on weekends, these require infusions of funds to permit such tools as sensors and disposable materials to be purchased, as well as to provide stipends for teacher-participants. Without such resources and programs, the reach of the engineering curricula will be undermined, because even motivated teachers will lack the up-to-date knowledge of the field or the commitment to model for high school students engineering principles and activities.

Noel N. Kriftcher

Executive Director

David Packard Center for Technology & Educational Alliances

Polytechnic Institute of NYU

Brooklyn, N.Y.

A version of this article appeared in the October 21, 2009 edition of Education Week as K-12 Engineering Plans Need Support to Succeed


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read