I agree with Keith Attwood (Letters, 11 March) on the importance of continued space research, both as a good thing in its own right and as a way of promoting science and technology to a new generation.
Space is one of the areas in which engineering can be seen as a ‘glamorous’ career option. Motorsport is another example. So too is the general aerospace sector, thanks to the publicity around projects such as the A380.
It is right to use such sectors as ‘flagships’ for our profession, but we should not allow the public to lose sight of the fact that the majority of engineers working in other areas are often carrying out equally important tasks. Providing power to our homes, clean drinking water, safe buildings and ever more efficient cars would all be impossible without the skills of engineers.
Keith Attwood says the challenge lies in persuading the best graduates that leading-edge technology can be more rewarding than a career in banking. I expect many bankers get paid far more than engineers could ever dream of, but I know what he means.
I would only add that it doesn’t always have to be ‘leading edge’ to be rewarding. The satisfaction of doing a useful job well can be equally rewarding, and that is a message we need to get across as well as the high-profile options such as space research.