September 26, 2016By Fernando Guarin A Bit (or Byte) of History At the time that I started mentoring students with Snap Circuits at IBM in 2006, we were looking for creative activities that could convey to students what an electrical engineer does on a day-to-day basis. We started using the kits with local schools during Engineer Week visits, then expanded to the week-long camps we hosted for girls during the summer. Since 2008, I expanded my involvement in mentoring to the IEEE’s Electron Devices Society (EDS) and, with the organization’s support, have been working with a number of engineers to inspire young minds through a worldwide mentoring program called EDS-ETC (Engineers Demonstrating Science: an Engineer Teacher Connection). Formally introduced in 2010, the program was designed with the help of volunteers from the Rochester, Boise and the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapters in New York. These dedicated volunteers ran initial evaluations working with their local science teachers ranging from the fourth through twelfth grade levels. In the first phase of the project, Snap Circuits kits were made available to chapters in the United States. Shortly thereafter, the program was expanded to EDS chapters throughout the globe with participation from all IEEE regions, where local EDS chapter student members have been actively engaged. Now, the only requirement for chapters to receive kits free of charge is that they submit a plan indicating how they intend to use them. In 2015, more than 9,000 young students participated in over 130 events around the world Engineering a Difference The main goal of the program is to enable chapter members to visit local schools and host events designed to engage young students in the field of electrical engineering. By utilizing easy-to-use Snap Circuit Kits, students learn about electronic circuits using a “hands-on” approach to experience the exciting and creative field of electronics. We hope to encourage them to consider electrical and electronic engineering as a career. This versatile tool, along with EDS volunteers’ enthusiasm and expertise, has been used to demonstrate the many applications and motivate young students into the exciting electron devices field. In order to make a difference in the world, we need to start by working within our own communities and local schools. We need to partner with local government and industry to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists that will work to solve the most pressing challenges we face in the world – clean water, wind/wave/hydropower, photovoltaics/solar cells, managing waste, geothermal, energy crops, energy harvesting, health care and many more. There will be plenty of work for the next generation of engineers. The technologies that advanced manufacturers develop and deliver to their customers will shape the future. We all need to contribute in order to keep the pipeline of engineers going by sharing our knowledge with the young minds that will ensure a bright future for our planet. Get involved today! Check with your employer to learn about available education outreach programs. Organize a maker faire or team up with local teachers and co-workers to get a mentoring program started. Snap Circuits kits are a great way to get students of all ages engaged. Other options include Raspberry Pi™, Arduino™ and more! Click here for additional information about the IEEE EDS-ETC program and to view a related video.