Next Engineers launched 1 year ago today! As we celebrate our first anniversary, we're taking a look back at what the Engineering Academy accomplished in Year 1.
Engineering Academy - a 3-year program in which students learn to think and act like engineers and prepare to advance to post-secondary education - began in all 4 locations during Next Engineers’ 2nd quarter, Jan-Mar 2022. Thanks to the recruitment efforts of our community partners - University of Cincinnati, Clemson University, Connectr, and PROTEC - a total of 382 15-year-olds from 123 schools applied to the Academy, and 204 students began the program this year – approximately 50 students in each location.
The mission of Next Engineers is to increase the number of diverse innovators and leaders who will make what’s next for the world even better. As we work to achieve our goal, 73.8% of selected participants in Academy Cohort 1 identify as members of a group underrepresented in engineering, including 47% female students.
Academy students met on Saturdays and holiday breaks to build mousetrap-powered cars, design rainwater harvesting systems, and prototype desalinators - developing a deep understanding of the engineering design process. At the same time, students have explored career options, identified their work-life values, learned about communication and time management, and started creating plans for their future education and careers.
The Academy Year 1 cohort has a 97% retention rate. Students report:
“I’ve learned that engineering isn’t a one-size-fits-all field but has many channels to explore and create many innovative things to help make our world an easier and better place all over.” – Deborah W., Cincinnati Academy
“In engineering there aren’t enough females, but in this Academy there is more like 50% female students. I think this will help close the gap.” – Faiqa A., Johannesburg Academy
“It’s been helpful with approaching real-world problems and figuring out how not to get freaked out by something that doesn’t work quite right or seems overwhelming.” – Hadley M., Greenville Academy
Of course, we couldn't have achieved such a successful first year without the generous support of GE volunteers. For the Academy program alone, GE volunteers spent an estimated 300 hours speaking with Academy students about their work and career paths, providing mentorship, taking students on GE facility tours, and offering professional feedback on their design projects. Over the second and third years of this program, GE volunteers will continue to mentor Academy students and share their expertise as we invest in the next generation of engineers.
While some locations have wrapped up for Year 1, others are still at work. As Year 1 nears its end, Next Engineers is preparing for Year 2 and for a new cohort of Academy students. Students who will be in grade 10/Year 11 are encouraged to fill out this interest form.