On the right are two short, "homemade" videos created by NAE staff that take a humorous look at hypothetical engineers communicating poorly, falling into common traps. At the same time, the videos show how engineers can be inspirational and how they can speak about the profession using the themes and messages here on the Changing the Conversation site.

Engineers generally want to be perceived by the public as members of an important and challenging profession. However, the public often has difficulty understanding what engineers do and in separating out “engineering” from “science” and “technology,” and this often leaves engineers frustrated and feeling underappreciated.

This lack of public understanding can be attributed to many things, but in no small part to the words and behaviors of engineers themselves.  To us.

Engineers are often passionate about what they do and have the potential to be great ambassadors, but—like scientists—they rarely are trained how to communicate effectively about their work or the overarching ways their profession benefits society. When they do attempt to communicate about engineering, engineers may unintentionally send messages that can be off-putting. They often: 

  • Imply engineering is only for those who “love” mathematics and science.
  • Fail to convey the inspirational, visionary aspects of the profession, focusing instead on “in-the-weeds” details of day-to-day work.
  • Use overly technical language that is not audience appropriate.