Connecting Student Passions with Engineering

Many students choose engineering as a profession because the field offers the potential to transform the world, earn high salaries and social status, and solve some of the world’s most compelling problems. Yet after a year or two of engineering courses, many students feel that they have become number crunchers who are disconnected from the big challenges that initially drew them to the field.

Engineering, as a field of education and practice,

  • Has one of the highest student attrition rates and one of the lowest representations of women and racial and ethnic minorities of any field of study
  • Has one of the lowest representations in important fields of public service ,like policy, community development, education (teaching), social work.
  • Unfairly pushes people to split their lives between their technical expertise and their social interests and passions, like political activism, artistic expression, social service, etc.


As reported by the National Academy of Engineering, the reasons for the disconnect between the amazing potential of engineering and the ways students actually experience it in the classroom are complex. Yet in our HE program we directly connect the potential of engineering WITH students’ passions and interests through



  • Active student-centered pedagogies, like Project-Based Learning, that allow students to experience the relevance of engineering to solve important problems right there in the classroom.
  • Projects, lectures, and off-campus activities that help students to connect their classroom experiences with the problems that they want to solve and the kinds of people they will encounter in professional practice.
  • Listening to students’ backgrounds, dreams and aspirations in order to provide them with intentional mentoring that connects who they are, what they want, and where they want to go in life.