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RESEARCH RESULTS 3 The communications audit provided a comprehensive overview and critique of the strategic approaches and tactics used to date to commu- nicate with the public about engineering. Combined with input from the committee, the audit gave the consultants a solid basis on which to develop a positioning statement and preliminary themes and messages. The consultants then conducted qualitative and quantitative research, which added to our knowledge of stakeholder perceptions of engineer- ing, vetted preliminary messages, validated the positioning statement, and provided an evidence base for recommendations. The qualitative research comprised individual interviews, adult and teen focus groups, and “triads” (groups of three) with preteens. The quantitative research consisted of an online survey. Consistent with federal rules for research on human subjects, the National Acad- emy of Engineering established procedures, including informed con- sent, to ensure the confidentiality of research participants. This process was overseen by the National Academies Institutional Review Board. 

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 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION QUALITATIvE RESEARCh qualitative research involving small samples selected without using statistical procedures must be considered exploratory, and the resulting hypotheses may have to be validated by quantitative research. qualita- tive research can sometimes provide clear conclusions but is designed primarily to shed light on perceptions of the issues in question, in this case engineering and engineers. In-Depth Interviews In the first phase of the qualitative research for this study (Sep- tember and October 2006), Bemporad Baranowski Marketing Group/ Global Srategy Group (BBMG/GSG) conducted 12 in-depth inter- views of a cross section of educators, opinion leaders, and engineers. By talking with individuals familiar with engineering, BBMG/GSG hoped to confirm and build on the conclusions of the communications audit and discussions with the committee. The interviewees were the first group outside of the committee to weigh in on the messages and themes. Methodology The interviews were conducted by telephone and tape recorded to ensure that they were reported accurately. Each interview lasted 45 minutes to an hour. (An interviewer’s guide can be viewed at Appendix B.) The project committee and staff suggested potential interviewees, but BBMG/GSG made the final selection. In keeping with the informed-consent process, the identities of the interviewees were not revealed to the committee or project staff. Key Findings Perceptions of Engineers and Engineering. The interviews revealed a wide gap between the way engineers would like themselves and their field to be perceived and the way both are actually perceived. At best, engineers are seen—and see themselves—as curious, hard-working

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 Research Results individuals who design solutions to difficult problems and leave their mark on the world. As the chair of a university chemical engineering department said, “They [engineers] are the interface between society and technology.” However, engineers can also be very hard on themselves. Sometimes they describe themselves and others in engineering as “Dilberts”, that is, “book smart,” “nerdy” “know-it-alls” who are “isolated,” “myopic,” and “not cool.” Some argue that this stereotype is unfair and have criticized their peers for not doing a better job of explaining exactly what engi- neers do. As a researcher in a corporate research and developoment division said, “Engineers are seen as nerds and geeks. People who are not in it [the field] have a hard time grasping what we do, [and] we don’t do a good job of explaining it either. It [engineering] is seen as a bunch of technical things they can’t grasp . . . and boring, too.” Many interviewees noted that there is no readily identifiable “public face” of engineering, no personality, such as Julia Child for cooking, Oprah Winfrey for talk television, Tiger Woods for golf, or Martha Stewart for home living. Some felt that cable TV programs that explain “the way things work” or feature engineering “marvels” expose many more people to a positive image of the field than the best-organized “engineering fair” or “popsicle-stick bridge-building contest,” which only attract people who are already interested in engineering. Interviewees who are engineers expressed concerns that the con- tributions of engineering to everyday lives are taken for granted. To an observant eye, engineering is all around us, but it takes a “powerful awareness” to be able to see it. A columnist for a major newspaper said, “Engineering is the behind-the-scenes job that no one pays attention to, and it doesn’t have to be that way.” Several interviewees said that the lack of diversity in engineering is a significant issue. “If anything, I’d like to make it [engineering] more appealing for minorities and women,” said a Ph.D. candidate and mem- ber of the National Society of Black Engineers. As noted in Chapter 1, women and some minorities are significantly underrepresented in engineering education and practice. One reason for the difficulty in communicating effectively with the public is that the technical aspects of engineering—especially

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 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION mathematics and science, which are perceived as difficult—are usually emphasized, rather than the creative opportunities. As a vocational instructor and middle school technology teacher explained, “Students don’t …understand that [engineering] is really a super-creative job. They don’t see that [engineers] are probably more artistic than some artists. [Engineers] are just using a different set of paints, if you will.” Reactions to Messages. All of the preliminary messages and themes (Box 3-1) were well received, except for “An Enterprising Spirit” and “Free to Explore.” Both engineers and educators embraced the image of engineering as creative, imaginative problem-solving and overcoming “seeming impossibilities.” Focus Groups and youth Triads In mid-October 2006, BBMG/GSG conducted four focus groups with young people ages 12 to 15 and 16 to 19 (one in each age group in Raleigh, North Carolina, and in Phoenix, Arizona) and a single focus group with parents of young people ages 9 to 19 in Raleigh. BBMG/ GSG also conducted four same-sex youth triads with children ages 9 to 11 in Phoenix.1 The purpose of the focus groups and triads was to explore teens and children’s understanding of engineering, their impressions of engineers, and their reactions to examples of engineering and mes- sages about engineering. In addition, the student groups were asked their opinions on current school subjects and their ideas about future careers. The parent group was asked what they thought was important in career choices for their children. 1 One-on-one interviews with young children are notorious for causing respondents to “shut down,” and focus groups with young children are similarly unproductive. In triads, the three friends already have a rapport and are accustomed to playing and talking with each other. All qualitative methods will introduce some bias, and with triads there may be a “pecking order” effect. GSG has conducted youth triads with great success for such clients as the Boy Scouts and Scholastic.

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 Research Results BOX 3-1 Reactions to Preliminary Messages, Selected Quotes Ideas in Action (underscores that engineering bridges the world of science and the real world). “That’s what engineering does. That’s what got me into engineer- ing. I didn’t want to go into chemistry. I thought engineering was more practical.” Chemical engineer, international industrial gas company Life Takes Engineering (focuses on the life-changing work of engineers). “No kidding. Life does take engineering. [The word] life adds depth to the subject. It speaks to people on all levels. It speaks to people who aren’t as fortunate [as we] to have the greatest environment to live in. It gives them aspirations for greatness. It’s changing your life for the better.” Vocational instructor and middle school technology teacher Limitless Imagination (focuses on the innovative nature of engi- neering design). “Creative ideas often lead to elegant solutions, like the Segway.” Computer architect, major semiconductor company Free to Explore (evokes the constant journey, the engineer’s quest for new solutions). “Is that always true? Is it always a new solution you’re looking for, or is it to take existing solutions and apply them in certain circumstances?” Columnist, major newspaper Shape the Future (engineering as an empowering, rewarding career). “You’re talking about making a difference in so many ways: from artificial limbs to XBox 360.” Ph.D. candidate, National Society of Black Engineers An Enterprising Spirit (the inventive spirit and pioneering contri- butions of engineering). “[The word] enterprising conveys much more of a business as- pect, and kids won’t understand that until later. It gives a business flavor, so I’m not sure about that one.” Planner, NASA

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 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION Methodology Focus group respondents were recruited by telephone by profes- sional recruiters calling from a residential telephone list. Respondents were eligible only if they had not participated in a market research group discussion, focus group, or individual interview in the previous six months. Adult participants were parents of children in school ages 9 to 19 who were “planning to attend or . . . currently attending college.” Adult respondents were informed that the project consisted of an infor- mal discussion group “to learn more about how parents feel regarding various issues that impact their child’s education and career choices.” All teen respondents were currently “planning to attend or . . . currently attending college.” Teens were informed by recruiters that the discus- sion groups were being conducted “to learn more about how young people feel about their education and career choices.” Teens ages 16–18 were eligible to participate only if they had not already chosen to pur- sue a specific, non-science-related career, or if they might change their mind about a chosen career. Teens were also asked for their opinions about several possible professions or career choices they may choose, and asked if they thought that profession or career choice would be a very good choice, a good choice, a fair choice, or a bad choice for them. Teen respondents were ineligible to participate if they believed engineering was a “bad choice” for them, personally. A total of 28 teens, 12 pre-teens, and 10 adults participated in the focus groups and triads. According to demographic data collected by BBMG/GSG, between 20 and 50 percent of individuals in each focus group considered themselves minority (i.e., non white). Participants were recruited and screened by local research firms selected by the consultants, and the sessions were held at the facilities of the local firms in rooms with one-way mirrors, which enabled consultants and project staff to observe the discussions without distracting the participants. Committee members and project staff who were not onsite were able to observe the sessions in Phoenix via video on a password-protected website. The focus sessions lasted about two hours and were professionally moderated according to committee-approved discussion guides (see Appendixes C and D). Participants received a small financial incentive and were required to sign informed-consent forms.

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 Research Results Triads lasted from 45 minutes to an hour, and moderators again used a committee-approved discussion guide (Appendix E). Like the focus groups, the triads were held in rooms with one-way mirrors. The general format was the same as for the teen and adult focus groups, with one exception. Children were asked to react to engineering-related pictures rather than to respond to the message themes directly. Parents signed consent forms on behalf of their minor children. Findings Perceptions of Engineers and Engineering. Students struggling to understand the concept of engineering—especially younger children and older children with little interest in math, science, or computer games—connected the word “engineering” to the word “engine” and thus concluded it had something to do with vehicles, such as cars, trains, and army tanks. One Phoenix teen in the 12–15-year-old group thought engineering must be “being able to fix things that are part of the engine.” Other researchers have also found that children have a relatively narrow idea of engineering (Cunningham et al., 2005). The majority of students understood that engineers “design and build things” but tended to have a very limited idea of what that meant, focusing mainly on mechanical or structural aspects of engineering, like cars, bridges, and buildings. One teen in Raleigh had a more comprehensive view. Engineering, he said, is about “designing buildings, making blueprints, making stuff work . . .Taking things apart and putting them back together better, like electronics . . . Making new products that are more efficient, like a trash can that can go to the curb by itself.” When the moderators explained (via written examples for the teen groups and pictures for the preteens) that engineering is all around us, the students became much more interested in engineering as a possible field of study. The examples helped them understand the broad reach of engineering, how it benefits society, and how it might be connected to something that interests them. “If you told somebody that they could invent the next Xbox, you’d get a lot of kids who’d want to be an engi- neer,” declared a teen in the 12–15-year-old focus group in Phoenix.

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 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION Students who were most aware of engineering—older children, particularly if they had a parent or family friend or relative who was an engineer, and students who already had a strong interest in science and math—included computers and technology, space exploration, traffic and city planning, and other topics in their definitions. Even these students, however, were not sure of the role of engineering in actual projects. In fact, even the few students who said they planned to become engineers had little understanding of the kinds of tasks involved in performing a job or pursuing a career. When asked to describe the qualities of engineers, students tended to emphasize that engineers were “smart,” “imaginative,” and good at math and science when they were kids. Although they did not have a negative impression of engineers, many seemed to feel that they themselves were not smart enough or did not enjoy math or science enough to become engineers. One preteen commented, “Certain kids can become engineers. If dumb kids try to become engineers, it isn’t going to work well. [Engineering is for] smart kids who know how to fix things . . . For cars, you need to know math and science, how this plus this equals mileage.” If some students thought that engineers were smart, creative, and imaginative, many others thought they were sedentary, worked mostly on computers, and had little contact with other people. “Seems like a lot of engineers sit behind a desk and don’t do much field work,” said one Raleigh teen in the 16–19-year-old group. “It’s a desk job. I’d beat my head against the wall if I had to do that . . . When you think of engi- neering, you don’t think about being in front of people.” Nearly all of the girls who took part in the research said they thought women could be engineers as well as men. However, there was a strong underlying assumption that girls “who like things that boys tend to like” (e.g., video games, cars and vehicles, building things) were more likely to become engineers than “average girls” (e.g., girls who want to be veterinarians, lawyers, doctors, fashion designers, teachers, or otherwise want to “work with people”). When asked to name engineers they knew or had heard of, includ- ing those who had visited their schools on career days, most students could name only men. Almost everyone—students and parents of both

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 Research Results genders—agreed that no concerted efforts had been made to engage women in engineering or to demonstrate to girls how science, math, and engineering are related to the things they are most likely to care about. Examples of Engineering. Students were asked to review a list of examples of engineering (Table 3-1) (for focus groups) or pictures of engineering-related artifacts or people engaged in activities (for triads) and pick the examples they found most interesting or appealing. The results showed that students tended to pick examples of the things they “connect with” personally. This suggests that a broad variety of examples would appeal to a very wide range of children, as long as the examples include concepts related to students’ interests. TABLE 3-1 Examples of Engineering Shown to Students in Focus Groups • • How the pyramids were built Automotive design • • Space Computer-aided design • • Designing video games Missile defense systems • • Building an acoustically perfect Interactive television • concert hall Traffic design • • What makes a bridge High-definition television • • Building the world’s tallest bridge Nuclear fission • (over 1,000 feet high) Internet security systems • • Designing the world’s fastest plane iPod • • Developing new foods Making homes safer • • How MRI machines work How a million Twinkies are made • DNA testing every day • • Using DNA evidence to solve crimes How tower cranes work • • Cars that run on alternative fuels Velcro • • Making cars safer High-speed image transmission • • Growing organs for emergency High-performance racing cars • transplants Turning deserts into farmland • • Making smaller, faster computer Wind power • processors Solar energy • • Protecting the rainforest Machines that allow blind people • High-speed (250 mph) trains to see • Developing new fabrics

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0 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION Examples of objects and activities children were familiar with in their daily lives stimulated the most interest. For example, students repeatedly expressed enthusiasm for video games, iPods, computers, cell phones, and amusement parks. High-tech devices, such as the iPod and video games, were picked by a broad range of children, while pictures of the microchip were picked mostly by science- and math- oriented students. Some students found images and descriptions of space exploration interesting, while others gravitated more toward historical examples of engineering (e.g., catapults or pyramids). Younger girls tended to pick images that showed people, particu- larly older female engineers, while boys were more likely to pick images that featured “things.” This finding is consistent with other research on thing–people orientation among girls and boys (e.g., Lippa, 1998). Many older girls seemed to gravitate toward “DNA evidence” from the list of examples. Young students did not select pictures of individuals standing still or sitting at a desk, which reflected their image of engi- neering as “boring or repetitive” and “not with other people.” Reactions to Message Themes. Students generally reacted positively to the message themes. They especially liked descriptions of engi- neers as “creative problem solvers” and “free to explore.” The creative aspect of engineering “grabbed me,” said one Raleigh 16–19-year old. “[T]hat appeals to me a lot more than trying to describe them as scientists . . . The never-ending part appeals to me . . . there’s so much you can do with [engineering].” One Raleigh 12–15-year-old student liked the theme suggesting “that you’ll never be bored. keeping interest is the best thing in a job . . . Makes it sound like an adventure . . . some- thing I wouldn’t mind sitting through two calculus courses for.” Students expressed a very strong sense of the importance of choosing careers that will provide financial stability and a comfortable lifestyle. The career goal named most often was “making good money.” Another concept that had strong appeal as a career goal was “helping to make a difference.” However, many students found it difficult to connect engineering and helping others. Most students thought that engineers might make a difference, but only indirectly, whereas doctors and lawyers, who have direct contact

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 Research Results with others, have a more obvious impact on people. “Engineering is behind the scenes helping people,” observed a 16–19-year-old Raleigh student. “They design the machines that help people. You don’t think of an engineer when you see a building or machine, you think that is a great machine. But when a doctor does something, you know that they did it.” This perception may explain why very few students associated major engineering challenges for the next generation (e.g., “cars that will help us achieve oil independence” or “saving the rainforest”) with “making a difference.” Several students also hinted that a career in engineering might not fulfill their desire for recognition. This idea was based on a conception that engineers draw more satisfaction from individual or team-oriented work than from direct recognition or the gratitude of users or beneficiaries. Parents. Most parents said that engineering would be a good field for their children to consider. Even those who were not certain about what engineers do were confident that engineering would provide job security—a top priority for parents—in the form of good salary and benefits, as well as a career path for advancement and success. “You can test waters in different disciplines within engineering. It is a good career choice,” said one parent. Parents had a mixed perception of engineers, however. On the one hand, they saw them as very smart problem solvers whose work is critical to society. On the other hand, they perceived them as somewhat nerdy and, perhaps, too focused on understanding how things work or trying to make things more efficient. As one parent said, “I think it is a certain personality type. I know it is a stereotype, but I think [engi- neers] tend to see things more black and white.…Very precise, detail oriented, they are not going to get into a conversation about politics or news.” In the discussion of message themes, parents tended to prefer the practical messages, underscoring their interest in job security for their children. They strongly agreed that “creative problem solving,” “free- dom to explore,” and “making a difference” would appeal to their kids, but they were more intent on making sure their kids find a career that

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 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION these taglines. Nevertheless, it was encouraging that several of them tested well. “Turning ideas into reality” tested well among all survey respon- dents (Figures 3-5 and 3-6). This straightforward tagline, which is con- sistent with the messaging used by National Engineers Week, is more descriptive than evocative. It states plainly that engineers translate creative thinking into practical solutions. Perhaps that is one reason it scored well as a tagline. By itself, without any additional creative con- text, it makes the most sense. It is interesting to note, however, that “Turning ideas into reality” was part of the key message, “Engineers connect science to the real world,” which was the least appealing of the five tested messages, espe- cially among women. This discrepancy reinforces the need for qualita- tive testing of taglines. The second most appealing tagline varied among the sample populations. African American teens, for example, favored, “Designed to work wonders.” The second favorite choice of adults and teens in the initial sample and the Hispanic oversample was “Because dreams need doing.” The similar responses of girls and boys in all three populations to this tagline (Table 3-12) suggests that “Because dreams need doing” may be relatively gender neutral. Among Hispanic teens, there were significant gender differences for three of the seven taglines. Among African American teens, girls ages 16–17 were significantly more likely than all African American boys (44 vs. 29%) to find “Turning ideas into reality” very appealing. CONCLUSION The qualitative and quantitative research for this study provided useful data on the perceptions of engineering and engineers held by adults and teens and focused attention on the particular messages that resonated most with the sample groups. The research process itself was educational for the committee, not only because it shed light on public understanding of engineering, but also because it provided insights into the benefits and limitations of market research. key findings from all of the research for this study are summarized in the annex to this chapter.

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 Research Results Turning ideas into reality Because dreams need doing Designed to work wonders Life takes engineering The power to do Bolder by design Behind the next big thing 0 20 40 60 80 100 Percentage FIGURE 3-5 Preliminary taglines selected as “very appealing” by adults, by percentage. Note: Top bar = initial sample. Middle bar = African American oversample. Bottom bar = Hispanic oversample. 3-5.eps Turning ideas into reality Because dreams need doing The power to do Bolder by design Designed to work wonders Behind the next big thing Life takes engineering 0 20 40 60 80 100 Percentage FIGURE 3-6 Preliminary taglines selected as “very appealing” by teens, by percentage. Note: Top bar = initial sample. Middle bar = African American oversample. Bottom bar = Hispanic oversample. 3-6.eps

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 TABLE 3-12 Preliminary Taglines Selected as “Very Appealing” by Adults, Teens, and Teens by Gender, by Percentage (rank) Initial Sample African American Oversample Hispanic Oversample Adults Teens Adults Teens Adults Teens Tagline All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls Turning ideas 46 (1) 48 (1) 54 (1) 43 (1) 48 (1) 34 (1) 29 (1) 38 (1) 45 (1) 41 (1) 47 (1) 35 (1) into reality Because dreams 24 (2) 42 (2) 43 (2) 42 (2) 24 (4) 18 (4) 17 (6) 18 (4) 27 (2) 28 (2) 28 (3) 28 (2) need doing The power to do 20(3) 31 (3) 37 (3) 25 (3) 27 (3) 18 (4) 21 (4) 16 (6) 22 (3) 24 (4) 28 (3) 20 (4) Bolder by design 18 (6) 26 (4) 33 (4) 20 (6) 21 (6) 18 (4) 16 (7) 19 (3) 14 (7) 18 (6) 22 (6) 15 (5) Designed to work 20 (3) 25 (5) 29 (5) 21 (4) 28 (2) 26 (2) 26 (2) 25 (2) 21 (4) 26 (3) 32 (2) 21 (3) wonders Behind the next 14 (7) 23 (6) 26 (6) 21 (4) 18 (7) 20 (3) 23 (3) 17 (5) 20 (6) 21 (5) 27 (5) 15 (5) big thing Life takes 20 (3) 19 (7) 24 (7) 15 (7) 22 (5) 15 (7) 20 (5) 12 (7) 21 (4) 17 (7) 19 (7) 14 (7) engineering NOTE: Pairs of shaded cells indicate responses where differences exceeded the sampling tolerance and are therefore significant. Gray = adults vs. all teens. Black = boys vs. girls.

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 Research Results One of the most important outcomes of the research was to demonstrate how much perceptions of mathematics and science have shaped perceptions of engineering. Evidently, messages from the engineering community linking success in engineering to skills in mathematics and science have reached a wide audience. Although this message is correct, our research suggests that it has not been effective in improving the appeal of engineering. The committee received more public comments on the linkage of science and mathematics to engineering than on any other subject. Sev- eral people suggested that attracting more students to engineering will ultimately require improving the teaching of math and science, includ- ing how applications of math and science are relevant to students. Another result of our research was to demonstrate that age and gender affect perceptions of engineering and engineers. The differences were most evident in the online survey. For example, adults, who have much more experience in the world of work than teens, were generally more concerned about job availability. One implication of this differ- ence for messaging is to keep in mind that adults, who may influence students’ career choices, may be especially sensitive to reports (accurate or not) of the outsourcing of technical jobs, including engineering jobs, and the resultant possible decrease in employment opportunities. The research strongly suggests that boys and girls have different reactions to messages and different perceptions of engineering. The focus groups and triads confirmed other research showing that girls are much more comfortable with images of engineering that include people, especially women, whereas boys tend to gravitate to “things.” This suggests messaging that targets girls should include a human element. Boys also appear to have a more positive outlook toward engineer- ing as a career choice than girls, who are less confident that engineering can be a rewarding profession that will have a positive effect on people’s lives. This relatively negative view of engineering has been documented in other research (EWEP, 2005; EWEP, unpublished). Girls also were generally less responsive to all of the messages tested in this project. The research also exposed a “disconnect” between the engi- neering community’s self-perception and the public perception of

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0 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION engineers. The image of a nerdy, dull person, as popularized in the comic strip Dilbert, is widely accepted as a given by the engineering community. However, our research shows Dilbert is not the public’s image of an engineer. Neither adults nor teens in our study correlated Dilbert’s characteristics with real engineers. This means that messag- ing resources that might have been invested in efforts to counter the “nerdiness” image can be spent in more productive ways. Finally, the research shows there are few significant ethnicity-based differences in the way adults and teens perceive engineers, engineering, and messages and taglines meant to improve the image of engineering. This does not mean, however, that messaging efforts, particularly the use of taglines, should not take ethnicity, culture, language, and other factors into account. For optimum effectiveness, messaging needs to be contextualized for the target population. REFERENCES College Board. 2007. PSAT/NMSqT® 2006-2007 College-Bound High School Juniors Summary Report, Table 7: College Major. Available online at http://www.­collegeboard.­ com/prod_downloads/about/news_info/cbjunior/yr00/AL.­pdf.­ (October 26, 2007) Cunningham, C., C. Lachapelle, and A. Lindgren-Streicher. 2005. Assessing Elementary School Students Conceptions of Engineering and Technology. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposi- tion. Portland, Ore., June 12–15. Washington, D.C.: ASEE. DeNavas-Walt, C., B.D. Proctor, and J. Smith. 2007. Income, Poverty, and Health Insur- ance Coverage in the United States: 2006. Table A-1, Households by total money income, race, and Hispanic origin of householder: 1967–2006. Current Population Reports—Consumer Income. U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Department of Commerce. Issued August 2007. Available online at http://www.­census.­gov/prod/00pubs/p0-­ .­pdf.­ (January 31, 2008) EWEP (Extraordinary Women Engineers Project). 2005. Extraordinary Women Engi- neers—Final Report, April 2005. Available online at http://www.­eweek.­org/site/news/ Eweek/EWE_Needs_Asses.­pdf. (July 16, 2007) EWEP. Unpublished. January 2007 memorandum from Global Strategy Group to the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project. Lippa, R. 1998. Gender-related individual differences and the structure of vocational interests: The importance of the people-things dimension. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74: 996–1009. U.S. Census Bureau. 2006. Historical Income Tables—Households, Table H-13, Educa- tional attainment of householder households with householder 25 years old and over by median and mean income: 1991–2005. Available online at www.­census.­ gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h.­html.­ (January 31, 2008)

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 Research Results ANNEx SUMMARy OF KEy RESEARCh FINDINGS This annex consolidates the most important research findings from this project. By putting all of the information in one place, the commit- tee hopes to help readers identify results most relevant to their needs. Since no two outreach efforts are likely to use identical tactics or share the same purpose or target audience, certain findings will be more significant for some readers than for others. The committee organized the annex to reflect the very important idea of audience segmentation. Thus, findings that call out differences in attitudes or understanding between teens and adults are grouped together, as are findings for boys and girls, men and women, and informed and not informed adults. When used in concert with the detailed data presented in the body of Chapter 3, the annex should be a useful guide for designing effective outreach to improve public understanding of engineering. FOCUS GROUPS AND TRIADS Students The majority of students understand that engineers “design and build things” but tend to have a very limited idea of what engineers actually do. Students do not have an overtly negative impression of engineers, but many feel that they are not smart enough or do not enjoy math or sci- ence enough to become engineers themselves. Many students think that engineers are sedentary, work mostly on computers, and have little contact with other people. Most girls believe that women have the talent and intellect to become engineers, if they so choose.

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 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION When asked to name engineers they knew or had heard of, including those who had come to their schools on career days, most students could name only men. Examples of engineering related to the objects and activities of stu- dents’ daily lives aroused a great deal of interest. “Making good money” was the career goal mentioned most often by students.3 The idea of “helping make a difference” also had a very strong appeal. Parents Parents were mostly of the opinion that engineering would provide their child with job security in the form of good salary and benefits, as well as a career path that would enable them to continue to grow and succeed. Parents tended to prefer the more practical messages, underscoring their concerns about job security for their children. ONLINE SURvEy General Findings Both adults and teens said the most distinguishing characteristic of engineers is their high skill level in mathematics and science. Less than 15 percent of adults or teens described engineers as “boring” or “nerdy.” Technologies that have yet to be developed or are not in widespread commercial use were more appealing to adults and teens than tech- nologies already in use. 3This contrasted to the answers from teens in the online survey who rated the importance of salary to job choice second or third behind “interesting work” and “work that makes a difference, is meaningful.”

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 Research Results “Engineers make a world of difference” was the message with the high- est “very appealing” rating among all adult and teen groups. “Engineers connect science to the real world” was the least appealing message among all survey groups and the least personally relevant for all but African American adults. All teens rated interesting work as the most important consideration in choosing a career. Making a difference was second most important among teens in the initial sample and Hispanic teens, and equally important to job availability for African American teens. Adults in the initial sample and Hispanic oversample rated interest- ing work and job availability as most important and of equal value in career choice. African American adults rated job availability most important and interesting work second. Teens versus Adults Teens in the initial sample were three times as likely as adults to con- sider engineering “boring” and twice as likely to consider engineers “nerdy.” More teens than adults considered engineers hard workers. Teens across the board responded more strongly than adults to enter- tainment technologies, such as iPods and video games. Informed versus “Not Informed” Adults Adults in the initial sample classified as “not informed” were more than twice as likely as informed adults to believe salary was extremely important to career choice. Informed adults in all three samples were significantly more likely than the not informed cohorts to associate math and science with engineering.

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 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION Informed adults in the Hispanic and African American oversamples were significantly more positive than their not informed counterparts about all but one message: Engineers are creative problem-solvers. Men versus Women African American women were more likely than African American men to believe engineers are well paid, hard working, and smart. Men in all three samples asserted greater knowledge of engineering than did women. Among Hispanic adults, women reacted more positively to “Engineers are creative problem solvers” than men. Boys versus Girls In all of the teen groups, boys were nearly twice as likely as girls to rate engineering as a very good career choice. Boys in all three samples claimed they had greater familiarity with engineering than girls. African American girls were significantly more likely than African American boys to want a job that “makes a difference.” African American boys were significantly more likely than African American girls to consider salary extremely important to job choice. Hispanic girls were significantly more likely than Hispanic boys to think engineers were nerdy and boring. Hispanic girls were significantly less likely than Hispanic boys to believe engineering has a positive effect on people’s everyday lives. In all teen groups, computer processors, video games, and high-defini- tion television were significantly more appealing to boys than to girls.

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 Research Results Girls in the initial sample and African American oversample found the idea of using DNA evidence to solve crimes much more appealing than did boys in these populations. Girls were generally less enthusiastic than boys about all of the messages. Boys in the initial sample found “Engineering makes a world of differ- ence” and “Engineers are creative problem solvers” equally appealing messages. The second message did not appeal nearly as much to girls. After “Engineers make a world of difference,” the second most appeal- ing message for girls across the board was “Engineering is essential to our health, happiness and safety.” “Engineers connect science to the real world” was the least appealing message for all teens. However, African American boys disliked the “Engineering is essential to our health, happiness and safety” message most, and Hispanic girls disliked the “Engineers help shape the future” message most.

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