This is a guest blog by Tiffani Teachey
You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with engineering?” I’ll tell you. One of the most valuable traits that an engineer can possess is empathy, which is the ability to understand and share in another person’s emotions. What better way to exercise this trait than by helping others? Whether it is donating food, clothes, or time, engineers can make an impact by finding ways to give back!
“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living here on Earth” ~ Shirley Chisholm
Here Are Three Ways That Engineers Can Pay It Forward:
1. Give Back to the Next Generation of Innovators
As engineers, we are faced with a choice. We can either continue to work our 9-5 jobs without giving back in any way and then go home and enjoy our lives, or we can find ways to give back to the next generation of innovators. The first step is recognizing the good in others that may not be seen by everyone else. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the daily grind of engineering tasks and forget about what’s important: making a difference.
Engineers are a group of people who have been blessed with the ability to solve problems and create solutions. They tend to be intelligent, analytical thinkers and problem-solvers. Engineers should use their skills for good — not just for themselves or their companies, but also for those around them. One way that engineers can give back to the community is by paying it forward through volunteering in schools so that they can share their knowledge with the next generation.
I enjoy doing school visits and encouraging children that they can be engineers through STEM hands-on activities. I took it to the next level by becoming a best-selling author of “What Can I Be? STEM Careers from A to Z,” which teaches our next generation about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers.
2. Mentoring and Sponsoring Young Engineers
As engineers, we can make a difference in people’s lives through mentoring and sponsoring. When you mentor someone, they will remember it for their entire life. Mentors can help engineers grow in their careers without having to pay for expensive programs at universities that may not suit them. Sponsorship is another way engineers can help others succeed by donating money, time, or connections.
Engineers can go back to support their alma mater and mentor the students there. Recently, I had the opportunity to mentor three young ladies studying engineering at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I was a part of the Engage ME! Mentoring program, which is UNC Charlotte’s Lee College of Engineering diversity and inclusion program designed to successfully recruit, retain, and graduate multicultural students with degrees in engineering, engineering technology, and construction management programs.
Some of the Mentoring Topics to Consider:
- Elevator pitch: Begin with the end in mind (internships, co-ops, full-time)
- Ethics, integrity, Accountability
- Identity and self-awareness
- Company culture / unwritten rules
- Seizing opportunities
3. Volunteering in Professional and Civic Organizations
The world is a big place with many needs. Engineers need to help solve the problems of society. Engineers can serve in professional and civic organizations by volunteering their time, donating money, or becoming active members. Volunteering is paying it forward for future generations!
I have volunteered and served on boards in organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls Scouts, Boys Scouts Engineering Explorers, and FabFems. It has been enriching to know that I am making an impact as an inspiring STEM role model, and engineers can make an impact too.
In conclusion, engineers have the power to change the world by paying it forward, and these are a few ways they can do so. Giving back to next-generation innovators, mentoring young engineers, or volunteering in professional and civic organizations are all great options for how engineers can make an impact on their community. If you want more information about these tips or would like for me to help with any of them, please contact me at [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Tiffani Teachey is a Sr. Mechanical Engineer, STEM advocate, professional speaker, and international best-selling author of the children’s book “What Can I Be? STEM Careers from A to Z” and two women empowerment books. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, as well as a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management, both from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. As an engineer with more than 16 years of experience, Tiffani has a passion for inspiring the next generation to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. She was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and enjoys traveling and being a youth mentor. For more about Tiffani, visit her website at www.TiffaniTeachey.com.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about how you think engineers can make an impact on their communities.
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success