The Engineering Fellow Program: The Student Experience

Engineering Fellows is a fun,
innovative, relevant program
meant for all of our students
across the state of Washington.
The Engineering Fellows
Program is a great example
of what career-connected
learning can
look like, particularly
at the elementary grades.
It’s really designed around
making sure kids understand
where engineering fits
into their everyday lives
and possible pathways they can
take if they wanted to do so.

The past few days, we’ve been
working on a design challenge
to see if we can filter
enough garbage out
to help clean the
Yakima waters.
We’re creating a filter
using other filters that
could be used in the
future to stop pollutants
from entering the Yakima River.
Pollutants are going
into the Yakima River
and out into the
ocean, and they’re
polluting our ocean, which means
plants and animals are dying,
and it’s not very
good for us either.
This is pretty
much exactly what I
do on a regular
basis at work, so I
think it is so exciting
to introduce students
at this fairly young age to what
engineers do on a daily basis.
It’s a really fun challenge.
It challenges you to take
chances, make mistakes.

It’s really important
that our students
see people in the
roles as engineers
that may look like them.
So we make it very
intentional that we
do find college engineering
students and engineering
professionals that might
identify with them.
Being in a classroom
with the students
and the teachers is a really
eye-opening experience.
The part that I’ve
enjoyed the most
so far has been going
to the classrooms
and interacting with the kids
and answering their questions.
It’s really cool to see the
kids take these projects
and implement them, both
in new and different ways.
In our pre-assessment that
we did, a lot of girls
didn’t see themselves
as engineers
because they haven’t really
seen a lot of women engineers.
But now they’re like,
oh, I can do this.
This is me.
I could be this person.
When the engineers
came, I thought
that whatever they
could do, I probably
could do with a lot of
failing and practice.
It was very inspiring.
Having an engineer in
the classroom was–
it helped me a lot.
I could see myself
as an engineer, yeah.
Well, I think of
engineers as boys,
but since there’s
a girl engineer–
it kind of opens up my
life so I can be one.
After doing the
challenges, I have
learned a lot about engineering
and what engineers actually do.
It would be interesting to be
an engineer when I grow up.

Failing is like
succeeding when you’re
an engineer because it shows
you what you’re doing wrong
and what you could do to fix it.
If you fail, then you
can just try again
because you can just
look at it again and see
what was going wrong.
Making mistakes is important
because you can learn from them
and get an idea how
you can make it better.
What’s fun about the
engineering design challenges
is working together as a team.
To spark this engineering
in all of my students
and seeing all of them, no
matter where they’re from,
no matter what experiences
they’ve had before this–
they’re getting it, and they’re
excited to be engineers,
and they know what
an engineer does.
I’m so proud of
them and really just
love that I’m a
part of this group.
Watching my kids have
those a-ha moments–
I think that has been
the most amazing part.

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