Twice a week, Jake Voorhees sets up his Panasonic GH4 SLR camera in his Pike Creek apartment and records advice to aspiring engineers — from job-hunting advice to tips for engineering students to reactions to engineer-related news.
The “1%” in the 1% Engineer Society refers to its mission: To help young engineers rise to the top of their field.
Voorhees, a civil engineer for Pennoni who also does video production for TEDxWilmington, founded the group about a year ago, and it’s grown steadily. He started doing the videos in February.
“77 episodes later, with lots of interviews and collaborations with other engineering YouTubers, I started seeing exciting growth this fall,” he said via email. “Nearly 50k views and over 1200 subscribers per month now, which has generated an active community of engineers from around the world. There are no paid services or products, it’s just a community & content project.”
Like many tech stories in Delaware, it all started at University of Delaware. As a student a decade ago, Voorhees first got into video when he worked on a traffic and video data collection project with Dr. Jack Puleo through the civil engineering department at UD.
“This led to more traffic and video work in grad school, then Chicago for a Canadian company, and then drone video stuff in Vancouver, British Columbia,” he said. He detoured into real estate and wedding videography before signing the operation over to a business partner and returning to Delaware.
“I wanted to bring this video experience back to engineering, and create content around mentoring students to be successful in the industry,” said Voorhees. “Something I was doing all along, but never made videos for it.”
One of the major focuses of The 1% Engineer videos is shining a light on engineers in underrepresented demographics.
“When highlighting success stories of engineers, I mostly tell stories of women and minority engineers,” he said. “I’m a huge advocate of women in engineering, and a board member for the Student Space Ambassadors of The Mars Generation led by superstar Astronaut Abby. Along with this, I’m helping plan a DiscoverE Global Marathon session, for which I got Dr. Tracy Fanara, the original woman engineer on MythBusters, as a speaker.”
When he’s not educating people through videos, he’s often helping them out one-on-one. “I encourage students to reach out for help with internship searches, exam struggles, job tips, whatever,” he said.
As the project grows, Voorhees tries not to predict where it’s all going. “Future plans are to create a web app or mobile product to connect engineers with internships or other opportunities, or the right university program, but it’s hard to say what will happen next,” he said. “This could turn into video consulting again — I’m just letting things happen.”-30-
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