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Entrust help inspire children into engineering focused careers

The future holds far fewer administrative roles, yet many more in computer, mathematical and engineering related fields - so inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in which they can thrive is vital.

Entrust is Capita’s joint venture with Staffordshire County Council. They work in partnership with schools and academies providing specialist expertise to ensure young people receive a good education and are supported to realise their potential.

The government has identified a need to inspire children to pursue learning and careers in engineering. Below are three examples of successful initiatives capturing the imagination of future engineers:

Industry helps address the shortage of engineers

Many UK companies are taking practical steps to respond to the fact that Britain isn’t training and retaining enough engineering students to take advantage of future opportunities. Miles Pixley, general manager in charge of technical and professional development for construction machinery manufacturer JCB – one company doing something about the problem, says:

Ours is a company built on innovation, with engineering at its heart. Understanding the basic principles of physics and technology, such as forces, energy and materials, coupled with experience of solving problems in a structured way is an excellent foundation to kick start an interesting and exciting career. And that understanding has to start in schools – there’s no getting away from that fact.

Working in partnership with Entrust, JCB has developed a project designed to stimulate interest in tech subjects among year 10 pupils and to complement what goes on in the classroom with imaginative ways for students to apply what they’re learning. The project sets a realistic engineering challenge based on a JCB product. Working from a design brief, the pupils have to come up with a solution in ten weeks. They undertake the work out of school hours – in a STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) club, or as part of a stretch and challenge activity.

The project offers a variety of benefits to the youngsters. It gives them an opportunity to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to proper, real life problems. It helps develop a broad understanding of engineering development processes and how they work. It gives them the opportunity to learn how to work successfully in a team and it shows them that design and creativity are as relevant to engineering as to arts subjects.

Taking classroom learning into the world of work 

The brief is to build a working model of a ‘telescopic loadall boom’ – a piece of kit based on JCB’s range of telescopic handlers. JCB is providing STEM ambassadors to help guide, and to answer technical questions. They work in teams and have to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom about forces, gears, hydraulics, electrical circuitry, levers – to a real life object. As part of the project, they have to research customer needs, plan and monitor using GANTT charts, and use CAD to create engineering drawings.

They have to understand assembly processes, and how to join materials. Finally they have to deliver a presentation giving an account of progress throughout against planned targets, how they assigned team roles, problems they encountered and how they solved them. The finished product has to work and is marked using authentic criteria, such as the weight the boom can carry and the height it can reach. They’re also marked on the electronics, the calculations they use, their experimental procedures, and features they designed that add value. Finally, to top off an absorbing and challenging project, the models are entered into a county-wide competition.

Attracting young people into engineering

Four thousand primary and secondary students had the chance to build a working model of a Mars rover at a STEM careers exhibition last year. The event was organised by Telford and Wrekin council as a skills festival, and was part of a broad initiative to improve the number of students choosing engineering as a career.

The European Space Agency’s planned mission to Mars – ExoMars – provided the focus for the exhibition, offering young visitors the opportunity to build a functioning mock-up of the rover vehicle that will be launched on its way to Mars by the Russian heavy-lift space vehicle in 2016. The mission is designed to answer one of science’s hottest questions: is there life on Mars? 

The Mars rover is being built by one of Britain’s world-beating engineering companies, Airbus Defence and Space. The choice of the rover as a focus for the event showed British innovation, design and manufacturing at its best. Clearly, the success of this hugely expensive exploration rests in large part on the excellence of the engineering going into designing, developing and testing the rover. So it’s a superb choice for an exemplar project.

The stakes couldn’t have been higher, and the youngsters involved learned first-hand how important engineering is, and how vital it is to the future success of the UK. This was not a dry and irrelevant backroom project, but one that will be the focus of worldwide interest when the vehicle lands in a few years’ time.

What’s next?

Further practical ways for young people to get more involved, and for teachers to stimulate interest, include:

TeenTech

Teenagers from across Staffordshire got a taste of what it’s like to work in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector at a lively Teen Tech event. Watch a three minute video of the day.

Teen Tech is an award winning, industry-led initiative, founded in 2008 by Maggie Philbin and Chris Dodson. It aims to help young people understand their true potential and the real opportunities available in the contemporary STEM workplace.

The Staffordshire TeenTech event took place on Wednesday 24 September at Uttoxeter Racecourse and was attended by over 300 pupils from 30 Staffordshire schools.

The interactive event, for 13 and 14 year olds, was organised by Teen Tech, Entrust, Staffordshire County Council and the Staffordshire Youth Action Kouncil (YAK).

Young people got the chance to engage in a series of experiments, had the opportunity to test out some leading edge technology, and most importantly spent time with the Engineers, Technologists and Scientists influencing their 21st century lives.

Leading companies and organisations also took part in the day including, JCB, JVC, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Perkins Engines, Active Robots and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. 

Mark Stones, Training and Apprentice Coordinator, from Perkins Engines Company Limited said “By attending Teen Tech, we hope to inspire young people to consider engineering as a viable career path. By making the day fun as well as informative Teen Tech goes a long way towards achieving this.”

Designing your own app was the best part of the day for me. We got to work with real people in the industry. We learnt that science and engineering is not boring, you can do a lot of cool stuff with it such as designing your own app. It’s made me realise that a career in this area could be really interesting and I will look into the different jobs in more detail.

Jack

Student from Sir Graham Balfour

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