Making a place
National Engineering Month takes place every March, with Engineers Canada, engineering regulators, universities, engineering firms and other stakeholders celebrating engineering. National Engineering Month is Canada's largest celebration of engineering excellence, with volunteers from the provincial and territorial regulators hosting over 500 events.
The annual theme of the event is "There's a Place for You!" and invites students to explore the different disciplines and visualize themselves in the engineering profession.
The Industrial team has had the pleasure of collaborating with Engineers Canada on several projects, and we were keen to transform the National Engineering Month website.
Time for a new look
The ultimate goal of National Engineering Month (NEM) is to inspire the next generation of students to choose engineering as a career choice and become professional engineers. The National Engineering Month website is a key point of engagement for the parents, volunteers, engineers and future engineers.
The old NEM website had done its job for many years, but was in urgent need of a new visual concept, as well as an improved user experience. A dark design, dated illustrations and a non-responsive interface were preventing the site from engaging the visitor. Also, the lack of a modern Content Management System was making the site difficult to maintain and update.
The challenge with the NEM design was to strike the right note—playful and engaging, appealing to young visitors and their parents, reflect the diversity in engineering—but without using cliched stock imagery or a concept that was either too young or too conservative. To the layperson, the theme of engineering might conjure up hardhats and blueprints, but that was not the right mood for this site. Engineering disciplines range from aerospace to agricultural, and that meant coming up with a unifying visual concept would be tricky.
The answer to the challenge was light-handed design. The palette is fresh without being childish. The imagery has a hand drawn feel but without being overly casual. By curating a library of illustrations and customizing them to fit the different disciplines, we created a richly textured and engaging site. The hand drawn elements, when combined with the photos of the Everyday Engineers, did the job of celebrating the people in engineering, not just the profession.
Chart your course and Drupal
And of course, under the hood, we made technical improvements to the website maintenance workflow. Engineers Canada work with Drupal on other sites, so for them, migrating the NEM site to Drupal was a welcome change. With Drupal, they have flexibility, customization, site wide searching, tagging, authoring, and much more.
One of the innovative features Engineers Canada asked us to design was an interactive quiz called Chart Your Course. Behind the deceptively simple-looking Drupal web form is a matrix of custom fields that allowed the Engineers to design a range of questions, with each discipline given a score. Every time the visitor answers a question, a tally is updated for each discipline. When the future-engineer clicks Chart My Course, her or she finds out how which engineering disciplines they might enjoy, and are invited to explore them.
Visit National Engineering Month.