Bechtel Helps Kids Discover Engineering

25 February 2010 FREDERICK, Maryland

For the past 20 years, Bechtel has partnered with the National Engineers Week Foundation on DiscoverE, a “teach in” in the United States that introduces primary and secondary school students to the exciting possibilities of a career in engineering. Stephen Bechtel Jr, the company's third-generation leader, helped create DiscoverE in 1990, while chairing Engineers Week. Bechtel has backed Engineers Week through financial support and very active employee involvement. 

During the week of February 14-20, Bechtel projects and offices across the country participated in a variety of activities and programs to introduce engineering, math, and science to school children. For example, 75 employees hosted some 250 boy scouts, webelo scouts, and girl scouts in the Houston office, involving them in a variety of workshops and activities related to science, math, computers, and engineering. As part of DiscoverE program, Houston volunteers will continue discussing careers in engineering with students of five schools. Similarly, more than 50 employees in the Frederick, Maryland, office reached out to all the middle and high schools in Frederick County, Maryland, to plan activities such as workshops, career days, and lectures.

One of the more popular Engineers Week activities is the Future City competition in which middle school students conducted research for an essay on a pressing social need and created a city of tomorrow using SimCity software and build/present a physical model made out of reused materials. This year’s theme focused on the ideal of providing affordable homes to those facing disaster or financial crisis, and earning only 50-80 percent of the median income of the surrounding city. The living space needed to use sustainable materials, have a low-carbon emissions footprint, and achieve the “Green Ideals” of energy efficient building. The competition finals were held during Engineers Week in Washington D.C.

“I was impressed with the knowledge and imagination of the students participating in the competition,” said Catherine McKalip-Thompson, sustainability manager for Bechtel National Inc. and a judge at the Future City national finals. “You have to be hopeful of the future when witnessing such a wealth of talent and interest for engineering combined with sustainability from a diverse group of young people.”

This year’s Future City top finalists were invited to join President Obama and Congressional leaders at the White House and participate in a “long distance” video call with the astronauts on the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavour. View a video of the call.