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Fri, September 14, 2012
For the next two weeks (Sept. 17-29), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and King Features, a unit of Hearst Corporation, will highlight engineers and the impacts of engineering through the characters in the comic strip “Bleeker: The Rechargeable Dog.” A new strip in the storyline will appear on the NAE website each day at: www.nae.edu.
Just like students across the country, the comic strip’s characters, Lila and Skip, are back in school. An early assignment focuses on perhaps the least talked-about part of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education – engineering.
With Skip’s electronic pet Bleeker tagging along, the fifth grade characters learn what engineers do and how they might make positive impacts in the world by pursuing that career path. The inspiration for Bleeker himself came partly from an engineering innovation with wide-ranging impact, because he is a combination of cartoonist Jonathan Mahood’s favorite companions: his dog and his iPod.
"Since I draw a comic strip about robots, I was really excited to join forces with the National Academy of Engineering and create an engineering-focused storyline in Bleeker,” said Mahood. “It was a chance to highlight, for readers young and old, the essential role engineering plays in our daily lives and how it will help shape our future. On a personal note, my dad was an electrical engineer and as kids we really had no idea what he did at his job all day. Creating these comics helped me to reconnect and realize what a creative and hands-on profession he had."
The comic strip features the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering, game-changing opportunities identified by an international committee of some of this generations leading technological thinkers – including Google CEO Larry Page, NOAA head Jane Lubchenco, Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina, genome pioneer J. Craig Venter, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry among others – which are proving to be inspirational in education through activities like the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program taking root at colleges and universities across the nation.
“By opening young people’s eyes – even through fun avenues like the “Bleeker: The Rechargeable Dog” comic strip – to ways engineers make a difference in the world, we are sure to attract a more diverse group of the best and brightest students to pursue this career path and help drive our nation’s innovation engine,” said NAE senior communications officer Randy Atkins. “It’s great to see a female character like Lila excitedly leading her friends on a path to learning more about engineering.”
The “Bleeker” series utilizes research from the NAE’s Changing the Conversation report, which identified messages likely to promote the public understanding of engineering.
BLEEKER: THE RECHARGEABLE DOG is distributed to newspapers, websites and mobile applications by King Features Syndicate, and can be read daily on more than 100 Comics Kingdom sites, DailyINK.com and Bleekercomics.com.
King Features Syndicate is a member of Hearst Entertainment and Syndication, an operating group of Hearst Corporation, which includes the Company’s cable network partnerships, television programming activities, and newspaper syndication and merchandise licensing operations. King Features is the world’s premier syndicator of comics, columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles and games, distributing in print and online some 150 features to nearly 5,000 newspapers around the globe. From comics to lifestyle advice, entertainment and political opinion to cartoons, King Features offers proven branded content to companies that look to retain engaged, loyal users. King Features is one of the largest and most experienced organizations in merchandise licensing and entertainment. It represents some of the most recognizable global brands, including Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor Man, Olive Oyl and Romero Britto. For more information, please visit http://www.kingfeatures.com.
The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the wellbeing of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.