We are a professional development organization with an outreach mission
Developing Leaders in Engineering and STEM
Developing Diverse Leaders Today;
Inspiring Engineers for Tomorrow
We are a professional development organization with an outreach mission. We are developing diverse leaders today by equipping and empowering university students (the ambassadors) with advanced communication and leadership training, so that they may share their passion and excitement about engineering and STEM with K-12 youth, the engineers of tomorrow.
All Network programs are guided by four core values:
Developing Diverse Leaders Today; Inspiring Engineers for Tomorrow
The Engineering Ambassadors Network (EAN) began at Penn State in 2009 by founders Karen Thole and Michael Alley. Originally the goal of the EAN was to encourage more women to study engineering. The EA Program started with twelve ambassadors who worked together to create engineering related presentations for local high schools. The program took a turn when an executive from Pratt & Whitney, (now Raytheon Technologies) attended one of these presentations. The improved communication technique and confidence exuded by the female engineering students convinced him that this outreach style could change the landscape of the engineering workforce. He went back to his leadership team and convinced the organization to invest in building the program within four universities, Penn State, Rensselaer (RPI), University of Connecticut (UConn) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Engineering Ambassadors Network was formed.
These four universities became the foundation of the EAN and between 2010 and 2012, other universities across the country began inquiring about the Engineering Ambassadors Program.
Due to growing interest, the Engineering Ambassador Network received a grant from the National Science Foundation; this grant was used to run a national workshop aimed to teach other universities how to start their own Engineering Ambassador Programs. In total, twenty-one schools (four member schools and seventeen pilot schools) attended this workshop. The attending schools were located across the United States.
The initial national workshop was the stepping stone for the EA’s growth. Once the EAN went nationwide, more sponsors, universities, and ambassadors involved within the EA program. In 2017, the program contained more than five-hundred Engineering Ambassadors and reached over forty-thousand K-12 students.
We did not have network-wide funding, but we continued to run our training workshops – even through the height of the pandemic using virtual platforms when necessary.
2021 - Current
Much has been learned over the years, and EAN continues its growth under the guise of new premier sponsor, Raytheon Technologies (RTX), and new leadership at the national level.
Currently, we have grown to 40 programs across the nation stretching to all corners of the US and Puerto Rico!
Today, the EAN continues to grow in both members and schools. EAN’s mission continues to embrace inspiring K-12 students (particularly the underrepresented) in engineering and STEM. We embrace the uniqueness of each program while maintaining shared Network goals and training.
Empowerment through Communication Skills
What distinguishes the EAN from other K-12 outreach programs is the focus on developing presentation and leadership skills of the undergraduate student ambassadors, in addition to K-12 outreach. The EAN teaches advanced presentation techniques, such as the assertion-evidence approach, that empower ambassadors not only to make outstanding outreach presentations for their Engineering Ambassador visits to K-12 schools but also to create outstanding engineering presentations for their technical courses, internships, and into their careers.