Across the country, February 17 – 23 is being celebrated as National Engineers Week. National Engineers Week was founded in 1951 and the dates are chosen each year to coincide with the birthday of President George Washington – America’s first engineer. A gentleman farmer of inherited wealth and limited formal education, Washington acquired credible surveying skills early in life, but excelled as a manager, strategist and leader.
In the midst of the Revolutionary War, on June 9, 1778, at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, General Washington issued a call for engineers and military engineering education. As President, Washington established a Corps of Artillerists and Engineers in 1794 to be educated and stationed at West Point in New York, which later become the US Military Academy at West Point. He promoted construction of roads, canals, the Nation’s Capital, water works, docks and ports, and directed a growing nation toward technical advancements, invention and education.
National Engineers Week is an important time to reinforce the need for improving our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and inclusion efforts. By 2020, the U.S. expects more than 2.8 million STEM job opening – and we will need to increase the number of college graduates by approximately 1 million more STEM professionals to meet the demand. Today, only 6 out of every 100 ninth graders will earn a STEM degree.
As a Nation, we must do better – and as the Nation’s engineers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is committed to helping address our STEM Challenge. USACE employees participate in mentorship programs, science fairs, robotics competitions, teacher training workshops, recreational events, STEM Camps and other educational opportunities. Their enthusiasm for engineering and science might just be the inspiration a child needs to pursue a STEM career.
Happy National Engineers Week!