The University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol and the MoD’s Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation are sponsoring the Engineer Leaders Awards, a competition to encourage STEM in schools.
Part of the government’s Year of Engineering, the event will enable school pupils to meet and learn from engineering students and professionals, before answering the question ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ By identifying a problem in society that engineering could solve, entrants are invited to devise a solution and pitch their ideas.
“Engineers are highly creative people who can help to solve many of society’s problems,” said event coordinator Laura Fogg-Rogers, Senior Research Fellow in UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit.
“It’s a really collaborative profession, where you have to work together in teams to see your visions and designs come to fruition. The range of roles and careers is really diverse, and that’s what we’d like to emphasise to all young people, particularly girls. You can make your own mark in engineering!”
Winning designs will then be built by UWE Bristol engineering students from September 2018. Their aim will be to take the concept, develop the design and build it into a full-scale functioning prototype, giving the school children who entered the competition an insight into the process behind designing and manufacturing a product.
According to UWE, the awards are just the latest in a long line of outreach programmes aimed at promoting STEM in local schools. Last September, 45 of the university’s engineering undergraduates joined forces with 35 UWE education students to take engineering challenges into 30 primary school classrooms for a day. The event, which involved over 900 local primary school children, enabled students and children to work together and challenge preconceptions about engineers and the role they play. It was also designed to support engineering students in their public engagement skills and enable trainee teachers to develop their knowledge of science teaching.