What Is Family Engineering?

Family Engineering is a valuable resource for providing informal engineering learning experiences to elementary age children and their families. Developed with support from the National Science Foundation and modeled after the Family Science and Family Math programs, Family Engineering promotes 21st Century skills of inquiry, creativity, teamwork, and collaborative problem solving.

Family Engineering is:

  • families engaged in fun, hands-on activities and events
  • families learning about what engineers do and the role engineering plays in everyday life
  • families discovering the many career opportunities in engineering

The Family Engineering program can be used by any individual or organization to plan and conduct successful community outreach events. Activities and event formats are accessible and inviting to diverse audiences, easy to implement with simple, inexpensive materials, and suitable for a variety of community settings.

The development and national field-testing of the activities and content for Family Engineering: An Activity & Event Planning Guide was made possible by contributions from a diverse team of educational and engineering professionals. Click here to meet the authors and the development team.

“You have created a STEM resource that is family-friendly, smart, and educator accessible.”

Grace Dávila Coates Director, FAMILY MATH


Why Family Engineering Makes a Difference

Tomorrow’s workforce needs to be educated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to compete in the global market and contribute to society. Current statistics show that we’re falling behind in preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges.

  • We need to increase public understanding of what engineers do.

    Most people have a limited understanding of what engineers do or how engineering affects daily life, and a career in engineering is often not a top priority for parents or kids. (American society for Quality Survey, Harris Interactive, 2008)

    Increase Understanding

  • We need to inspire interest in engineering careers.

    The demand for engineers is growing, but the U.S. is not producing enough graduates with an engineering degree. From 1990-2010, overall college graduation levels have grown by about 50%, but engineering degrees have flat-lined at 120,000 annually. (National Center for Education Statistics).

    Inspire Interest

  • We need more diversity in the engineering field.

    As educators, parents, and role models for kids, we all need to do a better job making engineering interesting and accessible to males AND females, regardless of ethnicity.

    Increase Diversity

  • We need to engage children in learning about engineering at an early age.

    Students who express interest in STEM in 8th grade are up to three times more likely to ultimately pursue STEM degrees later in life than students who do not express such interest. (Science magazine, 2006)

    Increase Engagement

  • We need to involve families.

    Research shows a significant improvement in children’s self-confidence and academic success when families are more actively engaged in their learning.

  • Family Engineering meets these needs!

    During national field-testing, Family Engineering events had a significantly positive impact on families’ interest in engineering and understanding about what engineers do.