Survey shows engineers held in high esteem
In a Harris
Interactive® survey conducted on behalf of the American
Association of Engineering Societies (AAES) with a grant from the United
Engineering Foundation, engineering receives a higher rating from adults,
whether or not they were parents, as a career choice for their children than
either accounting or the ministry.
When asked to use a scale of one through 10 to represent extremely
displeased to extremely pleased if their child were to enter a particular
profession, both accounting and the ministry receive high marks, with
accounting receiving an overall rating of eight and the ministry a seven.
Engineering and science, on the other hand, both receive nine.
for engineering as a profession are consistent across all groups,
regardless of respondents' familiarity with or interest level in
engineering, gender, age, or level of education. When asked to explain why
they'd be pleased if their child went into engineering, to "make a positive
contribution to society" is cited as often as to "earn a good salary." Other
reasons given include the ability to do "interesting work" and the
reveals slight differences for why adults would be pleased
depending on the child's gender. When discussing sons, 31 percent appreciate
the ability to earn a good salary and 29 percent like that they can make a
positive societal contribution. By contrast, 25 percent pick positive
contributions to society as the prime reason they would be pleased if their
daughters chose engineering, followed closely by good salary at 24 percent.
Perhaps another contributing factor is the high esteem with which the
engineering profession is held among Americans.
to the survey, more than three out of four respondents, 77
percent, say engineers are largely responsible for a high standard of
living. As compared to scientists, engineers are thought to create strong
economic growth (69% vs. 25%), preserve national security (59% vs. 29%) and
make strong leaders (56% vs. 32%).
the positive views, and the fact that the survey finds that, on
average, Americans are personally acquainted with six engineers, just
one-third (33%) of those polled feel very or fairly well informed about
engineers and engineering and only slightly more, four out of ten (40%), are
interested in learning about engineers and engineering.
95 percent agree that engineers use old and new knowledge to solve
practical problems and are involved in diverse fields and occupations. The
vast majority recognizes the contributions of engineers to almost all
aspects of life. When asked about engineers' level of involvement in
transportation, for example, 98 percent of respondents acknowledge the
contribution of engineers in building automobiles, airplanes, highways,
bridges and tunnels. Ninety-five percent believe engineers are involved with
spacecraft, electronics, and air conditioning and refrigeration.
to describe what first comes to mind when they hear the word
"engineer," respondents say an engineer "builds/constructs/makes (38%),"
"designs/draws/plans (19%)" and does "mechanic/mechanical work (9%)."
Hatch, P.E., Chair of the AAES Committee on the Public Awareness of
Engineering (COPAE), notes that the positive public perception of engineers
accurately reflects the important role the profession plays in all levels of
society. "Engineering touches every part of our lives in a wide variety of
ways," said Hatch. "These survey results are a strong indication that the
vast majority of people support our work and our goals and offer a powerful
endorsement of the profession."
found that the most common source of information about engineers
is from television news, cable and local. Those better informed and having a
higher interest in the profession are more likely than those who are not to
get that information through the Internet. The Internet is a more common
news source for those who are informed about engineers (24% vs. 10% who are
not informed), interested in engineering (21% vs. 9% who are not interested)
and who know at least one engineer (17% vs. 3% for those who do not know any
Harris Interactive conducted telephone interviews among a nationally
representative sample of 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older. Interviewing was
conducted between December 1 and 14, 2003. Figures were weighted for age,
sex, education, race and ethnicity, region, household size and number of
telephone lines in the household. In theory, with a probability sample of
this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a
statistical precision of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they
would be if the entire U.S. population had been polled with complete
Harris Interactive (www.harrisinteractive.com) is a worldwide market
research and consulting firm best known for The Harris Poll®, and for
pioneering the Internet method to conduct scientifically accurate market
research. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, U.S.A., Harris Interactive
combines proprietary methodologies and technology with expertise in
predictive, custom and strategic research. The Company conducts
international research through wholly owned subsidiaries--London-based HI
Europe (www.hieurope.com) and Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan--as well
as through the Harris Interactive Global Network of local market- and
opinion-research firms, and various U.S. offices.
The complete AAES/Harris Interactive Survey is available at
Chris Mc Manes : e-mail - email@example.com