The Joy of Engineering, sketching it out, and international opportunities

News editor

Communicating the joys of engineering and helping out an intriguing new project head this week’s round-up, while two upcoming events highlight opportunities for UK firms and individuals.

We’re always willing to help at Engineer Towers, as witnessed this morning when a young man from the BBC called for some quick facts about all things related to the industry.

Questions such as how much is the sector worth (£849bn a year based on figures from 2011), what proportion of engineers are female (around eight per cent), and employment prospects (2.74 million openings in engineering enterprises to 2020) were swiftly dispatched and will hopefully form part of the Jeremy Vine show from midday today.    

We’ve made some enquiries as to the exact nature of Mr Vine’s interest in your profession, with the BBC’s inquisitive employee informing us that the show will address ‘the joy of being an engineer’ whilst questioning youngsters’ reasons for not entering the profession. Listen in at noon or catch up using the BBC iPlayer. Alternatively, recap with The Engineer’s myriad of articles on those very subjects.

Problem solving is a fundamental skill of engineers and many moons ago my father – a water supply engineer – would often talk of working things out ‘on the back of a fag packet’.

These ad hoc, in-the-field sketches (usually in a pocket note book and not, in fact, on a packet of cigarettes) would help him visualise a potential solution, a skill that a certain James Cannam wants to revive.

Cannam says he wants to create a book called ‘Sketching for Engineers’ to help the next generation of engineers to communicate their designs.

He told us: ‘Whilst engineers studying at university are taught to solve problems, develop designs and complete calculations, unless they are lucky they aren’t taught anything more than basic technical drawing methods. Sketching for Engineers would be targeted at solving this problem.’

Cannam has a Kickstarter campaign to fund his venture and anyone wanting to read more about the project – and make it come to life with a donation – should click here.

Meeting another appeal for help, we’ve been given notice of a chance for UK manufacturers to explore business opportunities in China.

The UK Industrial Zone (UKIZ) in Changshu is expected to aggregate the skills of British companies in one place and CEDZ (Changshu Economic Development Zone) says it is committed to offering support to UK companies wishing to link into the Changshu supply chain.

The UKIZ will be adjacent to the new £1.6bn Chery JLR Factory and representatives from British companies will be able to meet dignitaries to discuss tax incentives available for companies hoping to tap into China’s domestic automotive industry.

The delegation will take place on March 23, and interested parties are being asked for a basic expression of interest by February 20. Further details can be found here.

An event taking place in London tomorrow has a similar international flavour, with opportunities at Large Scale Facilities being highlighted by the Royal Academy of Engineering and STFC.

Hosted by Steve Myers, director of Accelerators and Technology at CERN, the event aims to promote engineering opportunities that exist for experienced engineers and technicians in every discipline. This includes placements for undergraduate students, fellowships for early career engineers, and collaborations and supplier contracts for industry.

The event – Engineering and Big Science: Opportunities for the UK – is open from 0945am to 1730 at Prince Philip House, 3 Carlton House Terrace, London.