Communication of What Mechanical Engineers Do: A Strategy for Recruiting Women

Project: Research project

Project Details


This exploratory project will determine whether a national impact on recruitment of women into a discipline such as mechanical engineering can be made through the dissemination of communication materials which emphasize how the discipline helps people. The Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department at Penn State will be used to test strategies for increasing the number of female undergraduates. This project will create a clear image of the mechanical engineering discipline and communicating that image through materials emphasizing activities that appeal to women. It will first clearly define ?mechanical engineering? as a discipline and gather examples of mechanical engineers helping people in the context of the discipline. Then it will create communication materials to articulate what mechanical engineering is, with an emphasis on how the discipline helps people. Female engineering students will be engaged in an interactive presentation that uses the materials to assess the effect of the materials and make revisions. Then the materials will be disseminated to high school guidance counselors, high school STEM teachers, and to all U.S. mechanical engineering department heads.

To meet the future engineering workforce needs and to provide innovative solutions which are generally derived through diverse teams it is crucial that engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering increase the participation of women. Many female students entering college and contemplating a major have a misconception about what mechanical engineers do. Because of its name, history, and culture, mechanical engineering faces a challenge in clarifying its identity to females and other underrepresented groups. This project will create and disseminate communication materials to help reduce these misconceptions.

Effective start/end date3/1/092/28/11


  • National Science Foundation: $100,000.00


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