Engineering the Future™ was developed by the National Center for Technological Literacy®, Museum of Science, Boston®, and was made possible through grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Renewable Energy Trust, Lockheed Martin, Cisco Systems, Inc., National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Highland Street Foundation.
Instead of using the term “unit” to name the major divisions of the activities in Engineering the Future™, the divisions are referred to as “projects.” Projects are an excellent way to encourage teamwork and individual contributions to the efforts of a group. Projects are also an engaging vehicle for communicating key concepts and providing opportunities for students to develop skills related to technology and engineering and apply their knowledge and creativity to reach an overall common goal. This is much more akin to the way employees are evaluated based on their productivity and their ability to work well with others.
Engineering the Future™ is a laboratory course in which students are expected to design, build, and test prototypes. While students will learn a great deal from their textbooks and discussion sessions, they will not be able to understand what engineering is all about unless they have opportunities to actually do it themselves. It is simply not possible for students to learn the engineering design process without being actively involved. The activities provide students, who may have no previous experience of solving problems that are restricted by specific criteria and constrains, an opportunity to think “outside the box.”
Kit components are identified, designed, and tested over time to meet the needs of the activities specific to the Engineering the Future™ program. In some cases, kit equipment is specifically manufactured for a lab activity. For example, the It's About Time® Concrete Crusher is an item that was uniquely configured by It’s About Time for the Engineering the Future, Project Two.
An Engineering the Future™ Overview video with Projects 1–4 Summaries and 22 Teacher Tips videos (average length 90 seconds each) on key topics and demonstrations are also available with their own Internet player.
For districts or schools implementing Engineering the Future™, a three-day Getting Started Workshop offers participants the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the engineering design process and physics applications in the classroom. In addition to face-to-face professional development, a moderated three-week online course, which covers the same engineering education material as in the three-day institute, is available for high school teachers who are unable to attend the workshop, or for those who prefer to study online.
All teachers new and returning also have access to an online professional-development resource. This is a virtual learning community where teachers can reflect on larger questions and issues, troubleshoot with other teachers, and get quick assistance and support with lesson planning and course content.