As we wrap up Engineers Week, I decided to take a look at our Couragion data to get a view of how middle and high school students view engineering jobs. In our app, students experience STEM careers firsthand via videos of role models, quizzes, and self-reflection. Along the way, they share their thoughts about each career they experience. We use machine learning algorithms to analyze the sentiment of these student comments.

In looking at just our engineering careers, I was happy to see that across all genders/ethnicities, students’ sentiments are generally positive. 

  • For diverse students, 63% of students’ comments reflected positive sentiments about the engineering careers while 16% were neutral and 21% were negative.
  • In looking at just females, 60% of comments reflected positive sentiments, 17% reflected neutral sentiments, and 23% reflected negative sentiments.
  • For white males, 65% of comments were positive, 17% were neutral, and 18% were negative.

So, what aspects of engineering jobs do students view as positive? Here are some of the broader trends and student comments we saw…

  1. The highest rated engineering careers are those that help people, animals or the planet. This comment from a male high school student reflects this trend - “The Water Engineer sounds so fun and highly interactive with the community and to help out the community in a big way especially with water would be very cool and motivating.”
  2. The ability to have a flexible work schedule is also a key trend among the positive sentiments, as evidenced by this comment from a male freshman  - “Electrical engineering seems very interesting, and with things like a more flexible work week, I would love it.”
  3. The large majority of youth want to travel as part of their job and many engineering jobs offer this opportunity. This trend is reflected by this comment from a female high school student - “It looks exciting when the Biomedical Engineer is working in the lab, and growing bacteria, in addition to that how she gets to travel around the world and see new things.”
  4. The ability to build or make things was another positive feature students saw with respect to engineering jobs. This male, middle school student’s comment exemplifies this trend - “I think that Mechanical Engineering would be a very interesting job because I love designing and building and learning how it works.”
  5. Working with small teams is important to students and many cite that as a benefit for engineering careers. This comment from a female, middle school student is one example of this trend - “The Spacecraft Flight Software Engineer career sounds very interesting because I like working in a team and having different ideas and perspectives that will effect the design in a good way.”

Considering what students like about engineering is important insight for those of us hoping to inspire more students to consider engineering careers. We can use it to better craft job openings or to better design the projects we have students work on at school. How have you used student feedback to adapt your engineering projects or job roles? We’d love to hear from you (info at Couragion.com).

For additional Engineers Week content, check out my blog post from last year that covers advice our engineering role models gave to students considering engineering jobs. Happy Engineers Week to all of our blog readers!

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