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students working on an engineering project on the left with additional students collaborating at a long wood table on the right. Orange chairs, grey carpet.

Reimagining the Possible to Diversify Engineering

Elizabeth Heck

We advocate for our communities. We make connections with people outside our walls to champion our role in making this world a better place. We get involved.

Your engineering background can make a difference; see our open roles here. 

Students working on laptops in red ergonomic chairs in a large open learning space with flexible seating

Celebrate the Role of Engineers

National Engineer’s Week is a practice that started in 1951 to call attention to the contributions engineers make to our society. Each year it falls on the week of February 22, George Washington’s birthday, as a way to honor President Washington who is recognized as the nation’s first engineer. It is a time to not only celebrate great engineering accomplishments but to excite the next generation about the engineering profession.

Each year to celebrate Engineer’s Week, DLR Group hosts STEM outreach events with local schools. Our outreach events are a component of our design philosophy to share our design knowledge. We are always looking for ways to make connections with our local communities to help promote the design industry to the next generation of architects and engineers.

In Los Angeles, we hosted a week-long STEAM workshop for 5th to 7th-grade students at the Marciano Art Foundation Museum with GENESIS. 

Inspiring a New Generation of Engineers

I was not personally aware that structural engineering was a career option when I went to college and only discovered it during my junior year. It’s an issue of exposure to building systems engineering, which greatly impacts the diversity of professionals.

While women make up about 47% of the U.S. workforce, we make up only 26.3% of the AEC industry and about 11% of the construction industry. These numbers are up from last year showing incremental growth, but there is much more to do. Helping the next generation see themselves in our industry – showing up at schools, in our communities, and more – is one way that we can actively help grow the talent pool.

We collaborated with PVHS junior class on a Habitat for Humanity home. Video via Arizona PBS | Cronkite News.

During STEM outreach events, our engineers help students understand what a day in the life looks like. We connect students to the items they see every day in their classroom such as the overhead lights, brick walls, or mechanical vents, to the engineering specialty that designs them.

Real-World Examples to Visualize Impact

Bringing these real-world examples to the students helps them visualize all the ways that engineers enhance the spaces we inhabit every day. Last year in Phoenix, we had the opportunity to partner with the Isaac Elementary School District to bring engineering into all its 6th-grade classrooms. This year, we are partnering with Westar Elementary School, a STEAM-focused school part of the Liberty Elementary School District. Our team of engineers will spend the morning with their 4th-graders speaking about the industry and challenging their minds with a hands-on engineering activity.

Whether we’re reaching new heights with towers or intertwining budding interests with a bridge-building challenge, these outreach programs are just as rewarding as our day-to-day jobs. We get to help these students work together to solve problems and discover new talents and passions. And we often leave just as excited about engineering as the students.

This week is National Engineers Week and to celebrate, my colleague Julianna Burke is sharing where and how we are showing up in our communities. Read up on the community outreach programs here. 

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Elizabeth Brack
Connect with me to start a conversation ➔ Elizabeth Heck, Structural Engineer


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