This year, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), along with other companies across the UK that depend on engineering and the ingenuity of engineers – such as Google and Facebook – will be joining forces with the Royal Academy of Engineering to publicly celebrate the engineers shaping the world around us and challenge the narrow stereotype of the engineer.
The day has been created by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, as part of their This is Engineering campaign to address the significant skills and diversity shortfall hampering the profession. Every year, the UK is short of 59,000 engineers, while only 12% of the professional engineers in the UK are female, and 9% are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
One of the major barriers to young people aspiring to be engineers is deeply rooted cultural perceptions of engineering as narrow, mechanical, too technical, and dull: a perception that’s being reinforced online. Enter the word ‘engineer’ into an online search engine and the resulting images offer a very narrow view, one that supports stereotypical ideas that engineering only happens in hard hats, on construction sites. This has prompted the Royal Academy of Engineering to call on companies like the IET to help change the public perception of engineers and engineering by showing a different – and more representative – image of the profession in the 21st Century.
As part of the campaign, the Royal Academy of Engineering has profiled young engineers to help change public perception of engineering: engineers like Catastrophe Consultant Josh Macabuag and Power Pioneer Dr Enass Abo-Hamed.
Inspired by buildings, bridges and a desire to be useful, Josh never imagined he would be helping respond to natural disasters. However, as a structural engineer, Josh volunteers his engineering skills to work out the safest way to reach casualties in collapsed buildings.
A determination to protect the environment and help those in need is what drove Enass to set up her own company. At only 28 years old, Enass co-founded H2GO, an engineering company producing batteries that store renewable energy and help provide power for hospitals, schools and homes in the developing world.
Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO, Royal Academy of Engineering, comments: “Engineering and technology play an incredible role in shaping the world around us and in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from providing a sustainable supply of food, water and clean energy, to advancing healthcare, and keeping us safe and secure. We know that young people increasingly want to tackle these issues and make a difference in the world, but unfortunately the lack of understanding around engineering is stopping them from exploring careers that will enable them to do this.
“This matters because we face an estimated shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers each year in the UK, and there is a pressing need to diversify our engineering workforce since only 12% of professional engineers are female and 9% are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. That’s why we’re making 6 November This is Engineering Day, to raise awareness of what engineers really do and celebrate those that are shaping the world we live in.”
For more information on the campaign, and to show your support visit www.thisisengineering.org.uk and follow @ThisIsEngineering on Instagram.