Wait, What’s an Engineer?

study found that the STEM shortage in the U.S. isn’t a result of students thinking that science isn’t cool. Middle school students simply do not understand what engineers do. This lack of understanding is an opportunity for Epistemic Games, specifically Nephrotex.

Nephrotex immerses students into the world of engineering in a virtual internship. As engineering interns, students design a prototype solution for their imaginary employer. These students are developing an epistemic frame – making connections between skills, values, identities, knowledge, and epistemologies of a profession — and experiencing a work environment similar to an internship within the safety of a classroom. Perhaps equally important, students enjoy the game.

This experience could be one of the solutions to the engineer shortage. The presidential jobs council wants to graduate 10,000 engineers per year from U.S. universities. Without the dissemination of programs like Nephrotex, it will be very difficult to teach kids that engineering alumni are the ones who are making the world spin.

GAPS is housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.