Shelley Latham Outreach Coordinator

From a Family of Engineers to LinkEngineering

PostedFriday, November 17, 2017 at 1:47 PM

From a Family of Engineers to LinkEngineering

I am pleased to introduce myself as the new LinkEngineering Community Manager.  I look forward to connecting with you about the rewards and challenges of including engineering in k-12 education and helping you make good use of the site.

I come from a long line of designers, engineers and artists. My father designed the first aluminum tennis racquet, hoping to solve the problem of variable tension in wooden racquets. His grandfather figured out how to mass-produce wooden matches without burning down the factory, a solution requiring expertise in both chemical and mechanical engineering. My mother’s father was a civil engineer working on highway and bridge systems at the dawn of the automobile age. (That's him on the left at the University of Illinois) I didn’t follow in their footsteps—I chose to focus on communication and community building—but their approach to problem solving is a part of who I am.

There were a lot of drawings on a lot of napkins when I was growing up. My father taught me how an idea becomes a sketch which becomes a technical drawing which becomes a prototype which gets tested and then redesigned. The engineering design method was woven into every take home school project that my Dad helped me with. “What is the problem we are trying to solve?” he would ask before guiding me through brainstorming possible ideas. This would usually prompt a groan and a “Dad, who cares, it’s just a homework assignment!” But eventually I started asking the question myself.

Until I started working with LinkEngineering, I didn’t even know that this approach to the creative process is the heart of what we call engineering. Because my Dad was an industrial designer, I understood how things got made from the beginning of an idea to the final manufacturing stage. It was like knowing a special language, one that made it possible to believe in the power of good ideas to move us into the future. I think all Engineers are equal parts optimists and realists. (Not unlike teachers.) It seems to me that every kid deserves to learn this language and that every school should try to teach it.

And that is why you and I are both on I am so glad that you are here. My job is to make sure that this site is easy to use and is fun and inspiring. Think of LinkEngineering as a handy resource when you need good information and individualized answers to questions as you begin integrating engineering into your classrooms. The world has problems that need to be solved and we need your students to help solve them. Thank you for taking the time to learn what the E in STEM is all about.

In the meantime, I am here to help solve any problems that you have with the site. Can’t find what you are looking for? Having trouble posting a profile picture? Have an exciting opportunity for other educators you want to share? Drop me a line at