Tuesday 20 September saw the QEPrize holding its very first annual QEPrize Engineering Ambassadors’ workshop.
Taking place at Prince Phillip House, we met young engineers from different organisations, disciplines and regions. The aim of the workshop was to explore the public perceptions of engineering. Is industry doing enough to engage the engineers of tomorrow?
QEPrize ambassadors are an international network of young engineers. Coming from both business and academia, they are the future leaders in engineering. With a passion for engineering, they frequently engage in activities to promote STEM. Together, Ambassadors provide an influential voice to the engineering engagement community.
The day opened with welcome speeches from inspirational engineers. Hayaatun Sillum, Deputy CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, set the scene. Recognising the role of engineers is crucial to solving global development challenges. At the higher levels, the glow of prestigious awards can attract attention. On an individual level, every engineer can help increase diversity and awareness in engineering.
Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education, went on to highlight the barriers to this. With little careers guidance in schools, many students are unaware of the ‘next steps’ to becoming an engineer. Combined with a lack of understanding of what 21st century engineering is, exciting opportunities are being lost.
We were also delighted to welcome one of the winners of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Michael Tompsett. Inventing the charge coupled device, or CCD, he was integral to creating digital image sensors. Along with George Smith, Eric Fossum and Nobukazu Teranishi, his innovation has helped put digital cameras in the pockets of billions of people worldwide. Together, these four engineers have revolutionised the way we see the world. Addressing the audience, Mike suggested taking a new outlook on STEM. Reclaiming the word ‘geek’ to be enthusiastic experts, engineers are leading the way in solving health, infrastructure and environmental problems.
After the speeches, participants broke out into small working groups. Sharing knowledge from across the field, they developed realistic recommendations for engineering engagement. With no ‘one-fits-all’ solution, each group targeted a different sector. From education and business to professional engineering institutions and individuals, recommendations varied. By the evening, teams had formed a unified ‘call to action’. These maximise current activities in STEM communication and suggest areas for improvement. The QEPrize will publish a summary of key recommendations shortly.
Bringing a fantastic day to a close, Lord Browne of Madingley, Chair of Trustees for the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, thanked participants.
For more information on the QEPrize Engineering Ambassadors’ Network, visit qeprize.org/ambassadors