Future Engineers Scheme in Action!

The London region ICE G&S committee is made up of 3 sub-committees, Knowledge, Membership and Public Voice. Each sub-group has a set of deliverables to meet by the end of the year. One of the deliverables of the membership subgroup is to engage with the youth and non-engineering community to spread knowledge and awareness of the engineering profession. To meet this deliverable the Membership Subgroup created the ‘Future Engineers Scheme’ (FES).

Institution of Civil Engineers — Engineering Change

The goal of FES is to engage with school children between years 9-11 of secondary education to increase their awareness and appreciation of engineering. The scheme is broken down into 3 phases. The first phase is a visit to the school to conduct an Engineering workshop where we get the children involved with the engineering activities of design and construction. The second phase is organising a site visit to a live construction site. This is shortly followed by the third phase which consists of a summary presentation testing their new knowledge of engineering and compounding the option of engineering as a potential career.

The Membership group started implementing the scheme in late 2015. The first school to take part in the scheme was the East London School of Science. Two volunteers from the G&S committee hosted the engineering workshop phase of the scheme over two days at the school.

The volunteers were asked to carry out two workshops as the school wanted to capture the entire year group. This gave students at all academic levels an equal opportunity to engage with engineering.

The engineering workshop focused on a tower building. The children were split into small teams and given a short amount of time to design and build the tallest tower possible with only the basic materials of spaghetti and marshmallows. These pieces represented structural elements and the “structural properties” of the materials were described to them along with a few hints to get them started.

A cost was assigned to each structural element and a non-flexible budget was set to add an additional element of realism to the workshop. This not only got the students thinking about the economic viability of the structure but also the sustainability of the build overall. These concepts may have been tougher to grasp for some of the children within this age group, however it was a great opportunity to introduce such a fundamental aspect of engineering within a simplified real life application.

The workshop was a success and both sets of children engaged with the task to the best of their ability. The school was extremely pleased with the outcome and they are actively looking to have more involvement with the scheme.

A word from the volunteers

Anna Tolmarsh, Graduate Civil Engineer: “We had lots of fun interacting with the whole year group, hearing what they saw engineering as and exploring the diversity of options it can offer. It was interesting to see how the perceptions changed across the afternoon; I certainly didn’t know what engineering was when I was in year 9. The activity was great fun, we walked round talking to each group about their designs and helping them develop those, there were some very impressive towers!” 
Kishore Ramdeen, Graduate Civil Engineer: “I really enjoyed hosting the workshop, it was good to see everyone getting stuck into something they had no prior knowledge about. Interestingly, the group of children who were classed as higher academic ability struggled with the task more than the children with lower academic ability. It just goes to show that being an engineer isn’t just about being smart it’s about being able to problem solve!”

A word from the school

David Perks, Principal: They were very informative and greatly helped the enrichment programme that we run at East London Science School. The pupils enjoyed the lecture as well as learning from it and are thankful for the valuable experience. We would love to have you revisit the school and contribute further to the enrichment programme that we run at the East London Science School.

Moving Forward

The FES will be launching the Teaching Packs program in late April. This will consist of specifically designed digital material available for teachers/schools to download and use as learning resources. The main aim of the teaching packs is to help facilitate teachers to independently introduce concepts of engineering to their students (without the need of any technical background)! Make sure you sign-up to receive the Teaching Packs when they are released later in the month!

Please visit our website to find out more about FES and pass on our details to any schools in London who might be interested in working with us.

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