National Engineers Week takes place this year from Feb. 16-22. The week is dedicated to celebrating engineers’ contributions to society and to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.
The tradition of celebrating engineering began at the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1903 when the engineering students made the whimsical “discovery” that “erin go bragh” loosely translates to “St. Patrick was an Engineer” (it actually translates to “Ireland forever”). Consequently, the college declared St. Patrick’s Day as a day to celebrate their engineering students and faculty.
“Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.” —Theodore von Karman, Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist
Over the years, the celebration took hold and grew. In 1951, the National Society of Professional Engineers officially founded National Engineers Week, known colloquially as EWeek. The NSPE moved the celebration to coincide with George Washington’s birthday. Our nation’s first president was also regarded as an engineer, notably for his survey work. He also appointed the first engineer officers to the U.S. Army in 1775, which was later formalized as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Today, EWeek is recognized and observed annually by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies and more than 50 corporations and government agencies.
In the same spirit, Fermilab’s Engineering Advisory Council holds its annual All Engineers’ Retreat during EWeek. This year, it takes place from Feb. 17-21.
The EAC is a cross-section of Fermilab engineering staff, nominated by their colleagues and selected by the chief engineer and deputy engineer. Each year, the EAC investigates any concerns for the engineering community at large. Ultimately, the EAC provides recommendations to senior management on how to improve the careers of laboratory engineers and foster a strong community. An annual summary of these tasks has typically been the focus of the All Engineers’ Retreat.
Influenced by the 2019 Climate Survey Action Teams Recommendations, this year’s retreat organizers expanded the annual gathering to a week-long series of events to engage with the engineering community directly. Participants can register for events, such as on-site tours, 3-D printing demonstrations and professional-inreach workshops. The week’s agenda also features events to inspire innovation. Tim Bond, who is SLAC’s head of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Camera Integration and Test team, will give the keynote lecture on Tuesday about the challenges of building the largest digital camera for astronomy. On Friday, the Fermilab Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer will honor employees who earned patents and submitted records of invention during 2019 at the Fermilab Inventor Recognition Ceremony.
The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” —Kobe Bryant
In its pilot year, the professional-inreach workshops will focus on a selection of technical topics that are novel to our engineering community but critical to future lab goals. The primary goals of these events are to increase awareness of current active initiatives at the lab, to facilitate professional networking within the lab and to provide training of common tools by leveraging internal subject matter experts. Professional-inreach workshops are an incremental but significant step to building the integrated engineering workforce needed to sustain the next phase of high-energy physics at Fermilab.
All are encouraged to attend. Registration is open until Feb. 14. Visit the Indico site to register and get more information.
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Aisha Ibrahim is a Fermilab engineer and co-organizer of the Fermilab All Engineers’ Retreat.