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SPIE joins in Engineers Week observance

BELLINGHAM, WA, USA - 15 February 2008 - Congratulate an engineer for his or her contributions to society next week: 17-23 February has been designated Engineers Week by the American National Society of Professional Engineers.

SPIE, an international society whose initiatives include educational and outreach activities for optics and photonics engineers and researchers around the world, is an Endorsing Sponsor of the event.

The observance is organized by the National Engineers Week Foundation, a formal coalition of more than 75 professional societies, major corporations, and government agencies working together to:

  • help ensure a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing interest in engineering and technology careers
  • promote pre-college literacy in math and science
  • increase public understanding and appreciation of engineers' many and varied contributions to improving the quality of life.

Engineers Week observances around the U.S. will include career fairs, virtual problem-solving games, webcast interviews with engineers, student competitions, television and radio specials, museum events, and other activities.

Among SPIE's ongoing and recent programs supporting engineering education are:

  • Support of an educators' workshop in Romania
  • Training in North America and Europe in Hands-On Optics, a program for middle-school educators developed by SPIE, the Optical Society of America, and the American National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), with a grant from the American National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Participation in programs providing the HUSPIE Digital Library at low or no cost for designated countries, primarily in Africa, South and Central America, and Asia, to facilitate research in developing countries with limited resources for science
  • Sponsorship of UNESCO Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) workshops for physics teachers in developing countries, with two workshops planned in Africa this year
  • Collaborative Conference Grants for student leadership workshops, such as an upcoming event supported by five SPIE student chapters in Poland
  • A Visiting Lecturer program, providing speakers who are world-class scientists and engineers in optics and photonics
  • Sponsorship of the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP) Winter College activities, presented under the auspices of the Italian government and two United Nations agencies, to foster advanced studies and research in the physical sciences, especially in developing countries
  • Support of the China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest (CASTIC) in cooperation with the Children and Youth Science Center at China Association for Science and Technology
  • Education Outreach Grant awards totaling approximately $60,000 annually.

Proficiency in science and mathematics is a concern worldwide. The recently released Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) measuring science, reading, and mathematics skills of 15-year-old students in 57 countries found low proficiency levels in both developed and developing countries. The report adds to a sense of urgency regarding the need for increased support for science, technology, and mathematics education.

About SPIE: SPIE is an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light. Serving the interests of its more than 188,000 active constituents representing 138 different countries, SPIE acts as a catalyst for collaboration among technical disciplines for information exchange, continuing education, publishing opportunities, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. As the organizer and sponsor of approximately 25 major conferences and education programs annually in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, SPIE provides publishing, speaking, and learning opportunities on emerging technologies. SPIE was founded in 1955 as the Society for Photographic Instrumentation Engineering. For more information, visit SPIE.org.