A campaign aimed at children and written by student engineers was launched last November to encourage more young people to study engineering.
The ‘Engineering is…’ Campaign was launched by the University of Sheffield and is backed by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield. It aims to challenge perceptions of engineering and inspire primary school children, particularly young girls, to consider studying engineering at university.
The campaign includes online games, lesson plans for teachers and information on different engineering careers, as well as a book written by students from the University of Sheffield’s Women in Engineering Society. This tells the story of Suzie and Ricky who discover an alien has crashed in their back garden. The children go on a school trip to an engineering research institute and meet engineers from different disciplines who help them build a rocket to send the alien home.
“At Sheffield, we aim to inspire more women and girls to study engineering – diversity is more than a box ticking exercise,” says Dr Rachael Rothman, Faculty Director for Women in Engineering in the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering. “Engineering is a massively important career, needed by the UK economy, and if we only train men we are not reaching a huge potential pool of talented engineers.” The shortage of UK engineers is a massive problem for the UK economy.
According to Engineering UK’s The State of Engineering Report, engineering companies will need 182,000 people per year with engineering skills in the decade to 2022 but there is a current annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers. It also highlights that filling the demand for new engineering jobs will generate an additional £27 billion per year for the UK economy from 2022. In a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) survey, 44 per cent of engineering, science and hi-tech firms reported difficulties in finding experienced recruits with STEM skills and the shortage of women in engineering roles is even more acute – with only nine per cent of the engineering and technology workforce being female, according to the latest IET Skills and Demand in Industry report. “The UK society needs a concerted effort as a whole to change the perception of engineering in order for it to become an aspirational career for girls and boys. “Many people simply don’t know about the wide range of roles within engineering, that engineering is creative, and can help you change the world,” says female engineer and TV presenter, Roma Agrawal, who spoke at the launch.
Families can receive a free copy of the book from the 'Engineering is…' website and play the online games. Teachers can also go here to download resources to plan lessons around the concepts in the story book. www.engineeringis.co.uk.