Beginnings. They are exciting, slightly unnerving, and refreshing. So, welcome to the beginning of the Growin'GEERS blog! To keep track of a journey such as this can be a challenge, so hopefully this blog will serve not only as a reminder for where we have been but also as a peek behind the curtain for what Growin'GEERS is all about. We will discuss not only our journey, but stories about STEM across the country, our advocates, and of course, our amazing GEERlings. Because without our budding engineers, we are nothing!
For this first post, I decided to give a little background on how Growin'GEERS came to be and what started this incredible roller coaster ride that I hope will never roll into the station.
Since I was a kid, I have always been drawn to problem solving. Now, problem solving comes in all shapes and sizes, but I was particularly drawn to problems affecting people. So, by talking with some engineers and Pitt professors (thanks Dad!), I pursued a degree in Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Any time I am discussing my major with someone who is not aware of what Industrial Engineers do, I always hear "Wow, I wish I had known about that major in school". Thankfully, for me, my dad was there to point me in the appropriate direction.
After about a year of working full time, I decided to pursue my other passion, and I volunteered to work with a group of students in North Philadelphia for a problem solving competition. During my volunteer hours there, I learned that these students had a massive interest in engineering when I talked about my job and what I did on a day to day basis but had an aversion to the math and science topics they were learning in school. My biggest takeaway from that experience was that they did not understand how the concepts they were learning were actually applicable in the real world. They did not understand how scientists or engineers could possibly use the concepts they were learning to help people or solve problems.
From that experience, Growin'GEERS was born. The goal of Growin'GEERS is to empower and enlighten elementary students to see the potential that STEM concepts have in the real world. By starting our journey with a focus on this age group, we are working to encourage their interest in these topics before they decide that they are too hard or irrelevant in reaching their goals.
Growin'GEERS is working to paint an accurate picture of an engineer for the next generation. This picture includes a love for STEM, the ability to communicate, a knack for thinking outside of the box, and the courage to fail. We want students to dream of being engineers and to understand the impact they can have by working towards adding to their STEM toolbox. By showing students the vast array of options available to them within the engineering field, we plan to decrease the number of students who get to middle school or high school without knowing what an engineer does.
So, join us on our journey to inspire the next generation of innovators, thought leaders, and engineers, or as we tend to say, elementary engineering dreamers.
Keep those gears moving,