Boosting Interest In Manufacturing Engineering With Career Exposure & Work-Based Learning
The field of Manufacturing Engineering offers good employment prospects and pay. A current search on Indeed results in nearly 50,000 job openings and the number of Manufacturing Engineering job openings is projected to grow 5 to 9% by 2026. O*Net Online reports that the median wage for Manufacturing Engineers is $96,980 – well above the average wage in the United States of $44,564. In spite of these positive job factors, there is lack of diversity in the field of Manufacturing Engineering. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online, there are approximately 133,000 Manufacturing Engineers in the United States and only 12.7% are female, 5.9% are Black, and 9.2% are Hispanic.
As with many STEM jobs, it is discouraging to see such low participation from diverse populations. But we are hopeful that this can change over time. As more students are exposed to STEM careers and role models, they gain the knowledge and confidence to pursue STEM pathways. Couragion’s data demonstrates this shift. In the Couragion app, students complete Career Quests. In each Career Quest, students view videos of diverse STEM role models and learn about a typical day in the career, sample job tasks, the work environment, the qualifications needed to earn the job, etc. All throughout a Career Quest, students provide input on what they like/dislike about the job. This data is converted to a fit score that shows how well a given job matches a student’s interests, values, and desired work characteristics. For the Manufacturing Engineering Career Quest, we see 32% of females and 36% of students of color receive a ‘Best Fit’ for a career in this field. These ‘Best Fit’ match percentages are much higher than the participation rates we see in the workforce today.
The top reasons why students receive a ‘Best Fit’ for the Manufacturing Engineer are liking the degree and training options; appreciating the high salary; and a preference for using the machinery, tools, and software required for the job. In looking at the comments that students enter after viewing a career, those who had positive sentiments mentioned liking the hands-on aspects of the job and that it would be fun and interesting to manufacture products. The following student comments exemplify their fit and interests:
“I like this job because it can also take lots of creativity.” – Hispanic Female, 6th Grader
“I’d love to be able to control a machine that is able to create multiple things every day, to mold new items, & to change some designs to make a better future.” – Hispanic Male, 10th Grader
“It pays well & it is very interesting.” – White Male, 8th Grader
In seeing how this career exposure helps boost students’ interest and motivation in STEM careers, Couragion has been focused on giving students an even deeper understanding of jobs via Career Challenges. These Challenges offer students work-based learning experiences in select computer science, technology, data, and engineering pathways. Each Challenge teaches students career-specific skills and terminology and then asks the students to complete in-app tasks that simulate actual “to dos” a person in the career would complete.
One of the Challenges focuses on Manufacturing Engineering whereby students get to experience the career through the lens of an Injection Molding Engineering Manager. Via this Challenge, students are introduced to skills in the areas of manufacturing systems, six sigma, engineering design, spatial reasoning, and measurement. For example, in one lesson, students learn about lower and upper specifications limits and read a Vernier Caliper to determine if manufactured blocks are defective or within the specifications.
With lessons like this, Couragion gives students more in-depth knowledge of STEM careers so that they can better evaluate the fit of potential jobs and improve their preparation for STEM pathways. It is Couragion’s hope that deeper understanding and expanded skill development will inspire more students to pursue attractive career options like Manufacturing Engineering. To see Couragion’s Challenges in action, email info@couragion to schedule a demo.