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IET launches new space competition to inspire and engage young people

To mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, and to help inspire the next generation of astronauts and engineers, we have today launched a new competition with iconic comic Beano. The ‘Life on Mars’ competition is inviting six to 13-year olds to design a product which they could not live without on Mars. Entrants must send their design for a product, along with a few sentences on how they would adapt it to work on Mars. 

The competition has launched after new IET research found children are looking to space just as much as their grandparents were 50 years ago, but for very different reasons. Nearly two-thirds* (61 per cent) of children are worried about environmental damage to the planet, with 49 per cent believing we will have to look to Space for somewhere to live in the future.

The research was conducted amongst children aged six to 16 and their parents and also showed over half (61 per cent) of children believe climate change issues could mean humankind will leave the planet. In fact, ‘planet hopping’ might happen sooner than we think with 48 per cent of children saying a human colony on Mars will be established in their lifetime, while nearly three in five (59 per cent) expect that they will be able to visit space on holiday in the future.

Engineering is now the third most popular profession children would like to work in with 15 per cent saying it would be their preferred career behind being a YouTuber (18 per cent), or footballer (17 per cent). In fact, of all the careers available in engineering, 16 per cent of children said space exploration would be the number one field they would want to work within.

Talking about the launch of the new competition, IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year and aspiring astronaut Sophie Harker (27), said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for under 13s to experience the creativity that a career in engineering brings. The future of space exploration will require the ingenuity of as many young people as possible with the right skills. Showing young people – and especially young women – that STEM careers have infinite possibilities is vital. Who knows what products we’ll need in space in the future? The competition with Beano aims to inspire children to think outside the box about what is important to them and how engineering can help make their dreams a reality.”

The winner of the competition will be selected by a panel of judges from the IET, Sophie Harker and editor of the Beano. The winning design will be made into a 3D prototype and sent to the edge of space**. The winner and two runners-up will be invited to attend the space launch and see their design head up above the clouds. Beano will also turn the winner into a cartoon character and will feature in the comic in a future issue.

To find out more about the competition, please visit https://www.engineer-a-better-world.org/get-involved/.


The competition is now closed and the winner will be announced in August. Watch this space!


*Research undertaken by One Poll between 22.05.19 and 02.06.19 with 1000 adults and 1000 children aged six to 16.

** The winner’s product design will be made into a 3D representation before being sent to the edge of space on a hydrogen balloon. The product will then be returned for the winner to keep.

***Engineering UK statistics.