Willard Mumford will gladly talk about engineering to anyone who will listen.
This week, he has the attention of 20 county teachers and guidance counselors.
And in August, he is looking for 30 students to listen to him talk about career opportunities in the field -- especially minorities and females.
Most just call him "Will" when they refer to the tall, gray-haired, soft-spoken chairman of the engineering and technologiesdepartment at Anne Arundel Community College. And when not teaching,he's applying for grants to spread the word about engineering.
Under a grant he received from the Maryland Higher Education Commission, teachers are getting four days of classroom instruction this week. The teachers, who receive $100 stipends, also are visiting engineers at work sites such as the David Taylor Research and Development Center in Annapolis.
Since Monday, teachers such as Judylee Meade, a seventh-grade science teacher at Old Mill Middle South, have learned what academic preparation is required to help students get started in an engineering career.
"There is more learning going on in the world," Meade said. "The more we know about what's out there, the better we can teach."
Yesterday, Mumford stood in front of the class answering questions about motivating students who in the past had stayed away from technical fields, or who perceived engineering as being toodifficult for students with average grades.
"It's those middle students that we need to talk to," Mumford told educators. "A lot of them end up in vocational-technical programs who may have the aptitude,if not to become an engineer, to work as an electronics engineering technician in the associate's degree program."
Annapolis Middle school guidance counselor Josephine Whipple was among the few counselors in the program. But she said she is benefiting from the seminar because she gives students information about career options.
"I'm here to get information to help me," Whipple said. "I need to know as much as I can for students who may have an interest in this."
Mumford attributes the under-representation of minority and female studentsentering engineering programs to limited knowledge of both educatorsand students.
His interest in recruiting came after working on a task force organized by the state commission. Based on task force findings thatmore minority representation is needed, the community college and Westinghouse Electric Co. began similar programs for teachers.
For the last three years, he has sought out 30 minority students for the Upreach engineering orientation program. The program is scheduled for Aug. 5 through Aug. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at the community college, and is open to students in grades 9-12. Free transportation will be provided from designated pick-up points, including Van Bokkelen Elementary, George Fox Middle, Annapolis Middle, South River Senior and Southern Senior.
Although there are no prerequisite courses,Mumford asks that students come with an open mind and lots of questions. Students will be exposed to an array of technical careers, and provided information and assessment on academic preparation. There also will be time for hands-on experiments.
"We'd like to target the average student," Mumford said. "A lot of them don't really know thatthey can do it or have anxieties about math. Hopefully, bringing them to the college environment will show them what's involved. We're trying to encourage participation and ultimately to get students in technical programs."
Students interested in the Upreach program should call Will Mumford at 541-2433.