Engineering: Emphasizing the “E” in STEM Education

June 11th, 2013 | RESEARCH

Many of the biggest problems facing the United States and the world require engineering expertise to solve: climate change, feeding a growing population, energy independence, access to clean water, crumbling infrastructure, and others. And with global economic competitiveness inextricably linked to innovation, employers across a wide range of engineering and non-engineering fields such as health care, management, and marketing are seeking employees with engineering knowledge and related skills. These skills include the ability to creatively and systematically solve ill-defined problems, collaboratively work in teams, effectively communicate, and address ethical considerations. Meanwhile, scientific literacy—including engineering concepts—is more important than ever to understanding current events and participating effectively in our democracy. Until recently, our K–12 education system had virtually ignored these needs. Although “STEM” has been part of the education lexicon for years, the “E” for engineering has received little attention from K–12 educators. Mathematics is an educational staple from the earliest grades through graduation; science is common in middle school and high school; and technology is gaining ground. But engineering is taught only sporadically in K–12 schools, despite growing evidence that engaging in engineering education leads to improved student learning and achievement in mathematics and science, in part by connecting these subjects to real-world problems.1 Seen almost exclusively as the responsibility of postsecondary education and graduate school, engineering has been viewed as too advanced for younger students, and until recently, little research has supported greater integration at the K–12 level.


(no document provided)

Team Members

Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE), Contributor, Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE)

Related URLs

Full Text


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering
Resource Type: Research Brief | Research Products
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Public Programs