As described in reports by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), engineers and the profession of engineering lack visibility, relevance, and influence with the public. One approach to address this situation is the, "Changing the Conversation," campaign that uses market research techniques to improve the public image of the engineering profession. In related efforts, scientists have developed the, "March for Science," campaign to advocate for the role of science in evidence-based public policy at the local, state, and international levels. In contrast to marketing materials and advocacy campaigns, this article argues that the approach adopted by nurses and the profession of nursing - namely, increasing the number of nurse leaders in pivotal decision-making roles on boards and commissions - is a strategy that should be pursued by engineers to gain visibility, achieve relevance, and influence the public. The profession of nursing offers three advantages as compared to the profession of engineering in terms of effective public engagement, including: 1) trust (i.e., Gallop shows nursing as the "most trusted" profession for 15 years running); 2) gender bias (i.e., the profession of nursing is primarily composed of females, which the engineering profession claims is an important target audience for marketing efforts); and 3) professionalism (i.e., the canons of ethics for nurses emphasize the importance of the patient - and hence the value of the individual - while the canon of ethics for engineers emphasize the importance of the nameless "public" - and hence looses the opportunity to connect personally). Through an ad hoc literature review, this article highlights the similarities among the objectives of nurses who formed the getting, "Nurses on Boards," coalition and the objectives of engineers who formed the, "Changing the Conversation," campaign. And this article argues that positioning engineers as leaders on boards and commissions creates individual proponents who spread the new messages of engineering and ultimately influence the public by creating visibility and demonstrating relevance.

Meeting Name

125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2018: Jun. 23-27, Salt Lake City, UT)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2018 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2018