The preferred pro-engineering lobbying tactic employed last week in the Prince William County school system? First, unveil a countywide competition in underwater robotics to hundreds of students in a high school auditorium thumping with techno music. Then, talk up the salaries made by engineers–and simultaneously joke that liberal-arts degrees result only in fast-food jobs. Finally, show testosterone-churning photos and videos of naval attack aircraft, submarines, and destroyers. Recently at Forest Park Senior High School, hundreds of students listened to a presentation outlining an eight-week program in which they will design underwater robots. The curriculum culminates in a competition April 26 at George Mason University that will test which team of students designed the quickest and most agile robot. The program, called Sea Perch and sponsored in part by the Office of Naval Research and the Society of Naval Architects and Engineers, is designed to teach students about such topics as propulsion, buoyancy, and tool safety…

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