In the summer of 1997, two people met for coffee. They began discussing the waning enthusiasm they saw in many youth for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and the under-representation of engineering profession in elementary and high schools. Even students entering into college or university engineering programs didn’t often know what to expect, often lacking a clear picture of what engineering is really all about.
The conversation was between George Comrie, Chair of Professional Engineers Ontario’s Education Committee at the time, and Jeffrey Crelinsten, Principal and Co-founder of the Impact Group, specializing in STEM education. Jeffrey suggested the idea for Engineer-in-Residence — a program going beyond the usual drop-in-for-a-day style of school-expert engagement, now with potential to enhance and enrich the school curriculum.
In 1998, the program began as a four-month pilot project in the Toronto-area, bringing students, engineers, and teachers together — a relationship fostering hands-on learning and problem solving abilities in students, while inspiring them to engage in STEM subjects. By September 1999, the EIR program had spread across 14 participating schools. In 2014, Engineers of Tomorrow began coordinating the program, incorporating inclusive messaging to reach students who may have not have considered engineering as an option. Today, the program is active in over 200 classrooms across Ontario.
What is EIR?
We’re surrounded by technology every day, yet many young people have no idea what an engineer really does.
The EIR program is an engineering outreach program, reaching elementary and high school students. The volunteer EIR brings real-life dimension to the curriculum, using hands-on projects, presentations and other activities in the classroom. By sharing their personal stories and passion for their profession, the EIR’s presence in the classroom puts a face to engineering. With over 15 years of experience, this program uses proven outreach materials and strategies, continuing to deliver high-quality STEM outreach to schools across Ontario.
Helping to Bridge the Gap
By connecting real Engineers and Engineering Interns (EITs), we’re helping to bridge the gap that often exists between the real world and classroom theory. Volunteer EIRs are selected through a careful application process, emphasizing their enthusiasm, communication abilities, and experience working with children.
Promoting STEM Literacy
It is important to understand the world around us and the technology we depend on. STEM education allows for an interdisciplinary approach through which students can learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Math concepts in relation to their real world applications.By promoting STEM literacy through shedding light on the theory and applications of modern technology, students feel motivated to further pursue an education and work towards a career in STEM fields.
The EIRs do not just drop into a school for a day – they spend the year getting to know the students and teachers through interactive, engaging visits. In this way, relationships are developed between the EIR and students, providing mentorship and enrichment as they help to support the school curriculum.