Seeing your dreams writ large on the big screen can be inspirational.
That’s part of the vision behind “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” a 42-minute documentary that was produced in part by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This captivating 3-D IMAX film shows how engineers solve problems and protect public safety. Targeted equally at girls and boys, it helps young viewers see how they can affect their community and the world by being an engineer.
I’ve been a member of ASCE since I was an engineering student at Purdue University. Now as a member of the ASCE Kansas City Section, I’ve been involved in the Younger Member Group and helped lead the promotion of “Dream Big” through coordination of outreach events in the community.
One of the largest of these was a massive outreach event we planned in conjunction with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) annual conference in March 2017. We hosted more than 1,500 kids from kindergarten through 12th grade (and about 100 adult chaperones) at Cinetopia and the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park, Kansas — that was bonkers. For the occasion, we had dozens of volunteers leading more than 20 hands-on activities for kids as they took turns watching the film.
Our promotional efforts earned a regional Project of the Year recognition from ASCE at its Leadership Conference in January, where I also got to co-lead a best practices session that shared successful techniques for promoting “Dream Big” and getting its inspirational message out.
What I love about the movie is that it puts a face on engineering, which can sometimes seem like a big, scary concept. “Dream Big” brings in a human perspective and features a lot of engineers, many of them female, tackling a wide range of challenges. I think it’s awesome for kids in the audience to see these role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
I’ve really taken to this because I truly believe people are affected by this film. I think it’s important to lead by example. If I want to encourage other female engineers after me, I must make the effort and demonstrate the success that I hope they achieve.
One of the students who attended the NSBE event wrote, “Thank you for inviting us to see the movie ‘Dream Big.’ My favorite part of the movie was when they built the bridge because the engineers and workers helped the people. I want to be an engineer because I want to help people.”
Individual success stories like this add up to a promising future for girls and boys who have an interest in STEM careers.