Ways Young Engineers Can Help their Local Communities


By Kevin Howell

As an engineer, you’re full of creativity. You probably chose this career path because you’re an analytical thinker and have an unhealthy obsession with solving problems.

Those characteristics don’t only make you great at your chosen profession, but they make you a vital asset to society.

As you probably know, engineers are making a huge impact around the world in developing nations with innovations that promote sustainability. But you don’t have to travel to another nation or continent to make an impact.

There are plenty of opportunities to use your skills, knowledge, ingenuity, and goodwill right in your area. So whether you’re still toiling on your college campus, or you’ve started a new job in a new city, here are some ways you can put your expertise to work in your community.

Be a STEM Tutor

Engineering has never been more celebrated, as governments and organizations are emphasizing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.

There are several initiatives promoting early STEM education, and particularly reaching underrepresented demographics such as women, minorities, and those in poorer communities.

You can simply offer your time a couple of days a week to help tutor students at a local high school or middle school, or teach a workshop.

Help Students Build

Lego Snake EPICS in IEEE Project Snake moving

Students testing a Lego Snake that they learned how to created and code.

There’s nothing like hands-on education, so instead of just helping students with their course work, why not help them actually create something?

You can volunteer for local technology organizations that hold engineering competitions for students from kindergarten to high school. Or, you can start your own project like Arizona State University postgrad student Victoria Serrano did in 2015.

Working with a $5,850 grant from EPICS in IEEE, Serrano taught students in her native Panama to build robotic snakes using high-tech Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits. The students learned to assemble the kits and write software to control the snake’s movements.



Improve the Environment

Almost every city and state have active environmental organizations that can use your expertise to help improve sustainability.

You can bring your creativity to provide solutions to your community’s problems. That’s what a group of engineering students at the University of New Hampshire did.

Oyster Beds New Hampshire Project Photo 2

University of New Hampshire Students working on an EPICS in IEEE project

Working with the non-profit Nature Conservancy, the UNH IEEE chapter developed an electronic data logger to help monitor and restore the oyster population in Great Bay. The team used an EPICs grant to measure the sedimentation rate from rivers and tributaries, tracking how quickly oysters are covered with sediment.

There are plenty of ways you can change your community, and the above examples are just a few. The world needs your ingenuity, and you may have aspirations to make a global impact, but you can start right in your neighborhood.

You don’t have to try to change your local community alone. We can help! Have an idea for a project you’ve been dying to initiate but don’t have the resources? EPICS in IEEE can fund your project.  Go to our applications page to submit a proposal.