Attracting the next generation of innovation

The world we see around us would not have been possible without the innovation of engineers who have stood on the shoulders of giants to help forge the ideas that have been delivered in the infrastructure and products we take for granted today.

From combating global warming, terrorism and water shortages to securing future energy supplies, it’s our engineers and scientists who are at the front line, helping to resolve the issues that challenge our quality of life. By the same token, the adverse trading conditions and challenging customer demands that we face today will ensure that the development and sustainment of innovative technology continues to gain importance.

While the economic crisis creates short-term challenges for UK engineering, it also opens up massive long-term opportunities. Our future economy and competitiveness depends on a strong and vibrant engineering sector. Only if we share best practice and maximise the capability of our technology by combining our skills and resources will we be able to capitalise on these opportunities.

For BAE Systems, partnering with industry, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic communities is central to realising future technology needs.

World-beating technologies are only made possible through such strategic partnerships. Our nation has a long and proud heritage of accomplishing great things without significant resources. To ensure this tradition continues, it’s vital we recruit and retain people with the skills, intelligence and commitment to drive innovation forward.

With over half of BAE Systems’ workforce working in engineering, we are the biggest employer of engineers in the UK and home to some of the brightest minds in the field. Testament to this comes from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, which recently awarded its top honour to one of our engineers in Military Air Solutions. Previous winners of the Mountbatten medal have included Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Psion Computing founder David Potter.

For our engineers – and the many others across the UK working in other large organisations, SMEs and academic institutions – it is important that we honour their achievements publicly and inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists who will one day take their place. It’s vital that we encourage more young people to consider careers in science and engineering; working in markets that demand the world’s most advanced technologies, including defence, aerospace, national security and healthcare.

For these reasons, we are pleased to sponsor The Engineer’s Technology & Innovation Awards for the third year running, as they help to highlight the wealth of capability that exists and demonstrate that the focus on innovation at all levels in the UK remains strong.

Serving as a judge at these awards, I have been privileged to read a range of innovative proposals covering topics as diverse as space exploration and the sewerage network. All are unique, although they all share a common passion for their topic and a hunger for success.
Along with my fellow judges, I would like to congratulate everyone that took part in the 2009 event.

Simon Jewell
Strategic business development director,
BAE Systems