Big ticket projects key to raising profile of engineers

Jason Ford
News Editor

This week will see the Bloodhound World Land Speed Record Car team head to Scotland to deliver the first in a series of technical lectures.

Launched in October 2008, Bloodhound is being designed to break the world land speed record of 763.035mph, set by Andy Green in ThrustSSC on October 15, 1997 in the Black Rock Desert, USA.

From the outset the Bloodhound project has had the laudable aim of engaging school children in all aspects of the project in order to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM subjects.

The Engineer would argue that the Bloodhound project is exactly the kind of endeavour to do just that and that it will soon be joined by a number of other large scale engineering projects of high importance and the kind of high visibilty not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

These include the building of Crossrail and HS2, the uptake of EVs and the charging infrastructure that goes with it, the massive windfarms that are taking root around the country and, eventually, nuclear new build.

All are arguably essential and all will require a significant number of talented people – from across the entire supply chain – to make them happen.

The past 10 years or so have seen huge advances in IT and electronic platforms that have made us consumers and users of devices that are remarkably useful but not entirely tangible. It is difficult to ‘get under the hood’, as it were, of a gaming console, iPod or Smartphone.

Bloodhound is a ’big ticket’ project that will be using the very same advances in consumer information technology to share their progress in real time to inspire the next generation of engineers.

The good news is that nearly 5,000 UK schools in the UK have already signed up to use Bloodhound resources to bring their science and maths lessons to life. In addition, six million teachers world-wide will have access to the project.

Let’s hope this openness encourages tomorrow’s engineers and let’s hope also that other projects adopt the same level of transparency in order to attract fresh talent in this information rich age.

After all, by the Bloodhound team’s reckoning Britain would need to fill nearly three-quarters of a million extra jobs requiring highly numerate, analytical people with STEM skills by 2014.

The lecture, to be delivered by Mark Chapman, Bloodhound’s chief engineer, takes place this Thursday at Glasgow Caledonian University and forms part of the sponsorship agreement between the IMechE and Bloodhound.

More information can be found here.

Other notable events this week include further debate surrounding the Energy Bill, which is now at the committee stage in the House of Lords.

Topics for debate include promotion by energy companies of reductions in carbon emissions and home-heating costs; decommissioning of nuclear sites; increasing the security of energy supplies; and access to upstream petroleum infrastructure.

Still with energy and news that MPs are to question Ofgem on energy prices tomorrow.

An Energy and Climate Change Committee oral evidence session will take place on energy prices and electricity market reform with Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan.

Questioning is likely to focus on issues including gas and electricity prices, competition in UK energy markets, Electricity Market Reform, and Ofgem’s future.