Engineering Possibilities for a Younger Generation

By Alexis Eades

Jolean London (L) visited Alexis Eades' (R) classroom at Central Jersey College Prep to teach the students about landscape architecture.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the demographics of the engineering industry still not as diverse as would be ideal. Many point to the fact that engineering firms need to make more of an effort to reach diverse populations at a young age, showing them that the AEC industry is a place they can envision themselves in. After all, children learn about professions like teaching and medicine with first-hand experience; yet despite using the things that engineering firms impact every day, they usually do not learn who we are or what we really do.

We’d like to recognize the latest of our employees who have sought to remedy this.

When Alexis Eades of the marketing department reached out to ask for volunteers to speak at Central Jersey College Prep (CJCP) Charter School in Somerset, New Jersey, two stellar CED employees enthusiastically answered the call.

CJCP is a free, public charter school open to all families within the Somerset, North Brunswick, and New Brunswick school districts. The US Department of Education has named it as a National Blue-Ribbon School, and it has been cited for their work in closing the Achievement Gap within the Central Jersey region. (For more information, click here)

Jolean London of our Landscape Architecture department, and Alex Reina of our Brides & Structures department generously agreed to speak and do activities with the kindergarteners of CJCP during their Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) class.

“I jumped on the opportunity to present to the students because I remember how memorable it was for me when I was a kid to have an outside presenter come in, and what better topic to talk about than something I’m passionate about!” explained Alex Reina.

“I was more than excited to talk with the children from CJCP about what I do at CED. Landscape Architecture is such a small field, but exposing the world of planting design to today’s youth was more rewarding than I could ever imagine,” explained Jolean London. “I noticed the class lit up even more when they took part in talking about how they’ve visited projects CED has worked on like Chick-fil-a and Six Flags.”

“The class picked out plants to put around their homes during the activity and it helped them access levels of creativity they can apply in an environment they’re comfortable with,” explained London, who presented last week.

“A portion of the presentation featured a photograph of myself at their age standing in front of the garden at my first home. I truly believe that this inspired them to see that loving plants and having a green thumb can start at any age/time.” She continued, “Showing the children the pollinator garden design I worked on for the Franklin Township Public Library in Somerset was a blast because they were all familiar with the site and were excited to go back and visit to witness the butterflies/birds/bees.”

Though young, the students began learning about engineering earlier in the year and have been very excited by all the things engineering firms can do. These students are encouraged to consider their career aspirations early, and exposure like this to the jobs that are out there is imperative to expanding their horizons.

Reina, who will be presenting to another class in March, says, “I hope to be able to show them how broad engineering can be, as well as one of the many career paths you can take as an engineer.”

London added, “I hope to one day see the children of today go into fields where they appreciate their surroundings and take great care into making the environment a more sustainable place. Overall, having the chance to communicate with kindergarteners about how fun the ‘adult world’ can be was such a blessing, and makes my job of designing for the landscape feel all the more fulfilling every day.”

So, this Engineers Week, we would like to thank Alex and Jolean for taking time out of their busy schedules to help young students imagine themselves helping to build the future.

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