A pressing engagement

News editor

We start the week with an event based around a subject that is, to be honest, starting to grate somewhat.

This Thursday the Royal Academy of Engineering hosts ‘Putting the E word into engagement’, a day described as being one of discussions and networking, with attendees debating the challenges and successes of good engagement with engineering.

They say, ‘We will be exploring why engineering engagement is important, if it is different to science engagement and the ways we can make it happen.’

They add that the event will feature talks from Ingenious projects, the grant scheme for creative public engagement with engineering projects.

This is, of course, all very laudable and just a little bit terrifying.

How so? Well, by the time you read this I should be on a beach somewhere east of the Bosphorus river. What, you rightly ask, has that got to do with anything?

The answer is very simple: I can predict at least seven events – from waking up in a warm, centrally heated house to disembarking from the flight  – that wouldn’t have been possible without engineers.

These events will have been made possible by engineers working in sectors as diverse as communications, civil and structural, electrical and electronics, aviation, mechanical, computing and rail.

It beggars belief that the public needs to be made aware of the contribution made to their lives by engineers but, unfortunately, it seem that they do given that the common perception of an ‘engineer’ is essentially that of a handyman.

Apologies to the RAEng for hijacking their event in order to have a bit of a rant.

Energy next and two events that are guaranteed to polarise opinion.

First, the UK Environmental Law Association is hosting a meeting this Thursday where experts from the US will share lessons about developing hydraulic fracking to extract shale gas.

In the US shale gas is said to account for 23 per cent of domestic gas production, helping to bring about a fall in energy prices.

The Institute of Directors believe that by 2020, America’s shale gas industry will have created 3.6 million US jobs directly and through cheaper energy to the wider economy, particularly for manufacturing.

In the UK they believe shale gas could create 35,000 jobs and meet 10 per cent of the country’s gas demand for the next 103 years.

However, in 2011 fracking was identified as a possible cause of a small earthquake in Blackpool and the practise – which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to crack the shale rock and release trapped gas – has since been stopped, although this moratorium is expected to be lifted in early November.

Tomorrow sees the British Library host a TalkScience event entitled Sustainable energy for the 21st century: Can we ensure a bright future?

A panel of experts will consider Britain’s energy future, asking if technology itself is enough to provide a sustainable energy future, and whether it is possible to meet the government’s energy targets without using fossil fuels or nuclear power.

The panel includes Dr Kirk Shanks, lecturer in Energy Demand at Loughborough University; Prof Colin Snape, director of the Energy Technologies Research Institute at Nottingham University; Prof Phil Taylor, DONG Energy Chair in Renewable Energy at Durham University; and Daniel Crean, a PhD student at Sheffield University who is researching radioactive site remediation.

The Guardian’s environment correspondent Fiona Harvey will moderate the discussions.

Finally, today sees the start of Euronaval 2012 in Paris, France.

In a statement issued in July the organisers said the event ‘seeks to highlight innovations by French and international players in the naval sector and new technologies in what is a high-tech industry.’

They added that the 23rd Euronaval show will attract close to 400 exhibitors from 35 countries and trade visitors from 100 countries with increased participation from Germany, Brazil, Britain and Russia.