Dear current and future creator, builder, developer, dreamer, problem solver, world changer

Dear current and future creator, builder, developer, dreamer, problem solver, world changer

Before I begin, there are a few things that you should know about me. I am quiet, goofy, kind, caring, shy, outgoing, creative, and bubbly. And I am an engineer.

I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering and I am currently working on an MEng in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Engineering Education. I want to improve the way engineering is taught and help to change the “chilly climate” that is synonymous with engineering. Engineering is not always a welcome setting for women and minorities. But how do we change this?

I came across this TEDx talk by Debbie Sterling on inspiring the next generation of female engineers. She talks about getting girls excited about engineering and changing the narrative for young girls. And she is working to accomplish this through the creation of GoldieBlox, toys that introduce girls to engineering at a young age, to change the narrative of what girls can be and what they can do.

In Whistling Vivaldi, Claude Steele talks about giving people “information that enables a more accurate and hopeful personal narrative about their setting” (Whistling Vivaldi, p. 169). So maybe we can give young girls a narrative about engineers that is broader than “train conductor” or “antisocial nerd” (because, let’s face it, I am neither of those things and engineering is much broader than that).

And that got me thinking. Can letters by engineers to future engineers help change the stereotypical narrative of what an engineer is?

Below is my letter. What would your letter say?

Dear current and future creator, builder, developer, dreamer, problem solver, world changer:

My name is Amy and I love learning about the world around me. I love exploring and seeing new things. I love creating new things and making things better. I love hearing other people’s stories and learning about other areas and cultures and perspectives. And this is why I love engineering.

I always thought that engineering was just about math and science. I thought engineers sat alone in a dark, dingy rooms starting at computer screens. But engineers get to do really cool things. Engineers get to help find cures for cancer, help explore outer space, help people learn, help improve the way we live, and so much more! Engineers use math and science to solve problems and find creative solutions to those problems. And engineers work with people to do this. Engineers are creators, builders, developers, dreamers, problem solvers, and world changers. Just like you!

Engineering is really fun and amazing, and it is also really challenging. But that is because engineers are constantly learning about new things and trying to see problems from a new perspective. But one cool thing about people is that we are always learning and growing. We don’t stop learning when we are done with school. We all constantly learn about the world around us, and engineers get to do this every day!

So I encourage you — creators, builders, developers, dreamers, problem solvers, and world changers — consider engineering as a way to realize dreams, learn about the things around you, and change the world. We need you!



4 thoughts on “Dear current and future creator, builder, developer, dreamer, problem solver, world changer

  1. This letter idea is pretty interesting. I did something like this letter to myself in a class in 8th grade and then at the end of high-school you read it again to see how you had changed or not. Having it be to inspire another person, I suspect would be much more powerful.


  2. Hi Amy. What a wonderful post! I especially love the shout out about engineering and cancer research! I hadn’t heard of Goldie Blox before; what a great idea. After all, some of my favorite toys growing up were Lincoln Logs and Hot Wheels tracks.

    I truly think that walls are starting to come down in the engineering disciplines. From personal experience, I think it will take longer for the some types of engineering (e.g. civil) than others (e.g. biomedical), but I do think we are on our way to be a more inclusive and diverse discipline.

    I thought you may also be interested in a program a professor here started in order to get girls in rural areas of Appalachia interested in IT careers; really cool concept and based on game playing! Here’s a link to the program website:

    I will be thinking about what my letter would say! Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I definitely agree that the walls are starting to come down, and that progress will probably be a little bit slower in some of the disciplines. But I do think we have more work to do in both engineering education and the engineering workforce.

      And thanks for the link to the program designed to get girls in rural Appalachia interested in IT. I love that it starts with a game! I had to try it out and found out that my results indicate that I could have considered careers such as Network Admin, Web Developer, or Software Developer. This was really cool! Thanks!

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