IET makes history with creation of Junior Board

School children invited to newly created board for the first time in the IET’s 145-year history.

Picture of Naomi Climer with Junior Board members

The IET has invited a group of school children to join its new Junior Board in a ground-breaking move to tackle the engineering shortage by encouraging input and ideas from the potential engineers of tomorrow. The IET brought together its Junior Board and Trustees for the first time earlier this year, with the inaugural meeting discussing skill shortages in the sector and how best to make careers in the industry appeal to young minds.

The meeting

A total of nine children took part in the meeting, ranging from the ages of 12 to 17, all with a passionate interest in STEM subjects. Each child brought a selection of ideas with them to open up the discussion to fresh, critical thinking and a modern outlook. Some of the ideas discussed included putting courses on for parents to give them more information about the exciting careers available in the industry for their children, teaching young people about historic female engineers as well as their male counterparts, and the need to position the industry as ‘cool’ in the media in order to encourage children to engage with it.TheIET Junior Board meeting took place at the IET’s Savoy Place headquarters in London, and also involved six Trustees, who were present in order to help steer the meeting and form the list of agreed outcomes from the discussion.

These were to:

  • Identify and work with celebrities who both parents and young people respect – and who have inspiring STEM skills – to showcase the career options available to young people
  • Create a web platform showcasing a range of engineering-related experiments young people and parents can do at home
  • Launch a visual social media campaign that shows incredible and inspirational pictures of engineering feats and careers
  • Highlight the importance of 3D printers and how transformative they are becoming – perhaps with a school competition to create something using a 3D printer
  • Put on information events for parents only to showcase real, local engineering companies and the careers they offer
  • Offer coding workshops and YouTube ‘how tos’ showcasing areas of engineering and technologies like BBC micro:bit and Raspberry Pi.

The outcome

The board meeting, and its outcomes, mark a new way of thinking for the IET, which now has a group of enthusiastic young STEM advocates to consult. Welcoming the suggestions brought to the table from its junior influencers, the IET is calling on other historical STEM institutions to follow suit and encourage fresh thinking from young STEM enthusiasts to help modernise and transform the industry – and sustain its economic prospects. “As an engineering institution with 145 years of history under its belt, we’ve taken a landmark step in establishing a Junior Board for young people to come together with experienced members of our Board of Trustees” says IET past President Naomi Climer. “Our industry continues to suffer from skill shortages, so it’s vital that we do as much as possible to inspire the young people of today – the next generation of would-be engineers – into careers in the sector. “By listening to, and taking on board, young people’s ideas for modernisation and progression within the sector, we’re opening ourselves up to new approaches in the way we present engineering careers to the next generation and their parents. This could prove really valuable in challenging outdated perceptions of engineering, and inspiring more children to become engineers in the future.”

“It was great that our ideas were taken on board and it was interesting to see what the engineers do in their jobs too,” adds 13-year-old Daisy Agarwal, who took part in the IET Junior Board. “It would be great to see our ideas put into practice to help encourage more people my age into engineering.”

For more information on the IET’ s Engineer a Better World Campaign, please visit www.engineer-a-better-world.org.