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The University of the West of England, UWE, and the Ministry of defence, MOD, are kickstarting the 2018 Year of Engineering with a national engineering competition for schools.

The Year of Engineering is a national campaign led by the government to help increase awareness to young people, their parents and teachers of what engineers do. UWE and MOD are sponsoring the Engineers Leaders awards, where children will have the opportunity to meet professional engineers and students, and asked to think about the question: “”If you were an engineer, what would you do?” They are also invited to think of a problem in society, devise an engineering solution and pitch their ideas.

On the 30th June an exhibition will showcase the shortlisted and winning entries from both primary and secondary school pupils. The winners, two from each year group and one overall, will have their designs built by UWE engineering students, the end product being a functional prototype. This will give them further insights into the designing and manufacturing processes.

Laura Fogg-Rogers, a senior researcher at the Science Communication Unit at UWE, said “Engineers are highly creative people who can help to solve many of society’s problems. 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!”

This is not the first time UWE has been involved with local schools to encourage STEM subjects. As part of a module set up last September, engineering students, along with UWE education students, went into schools to involve children in engineering challenges, encouraging cooperation and challenging their perceptions on engineers. This isn’t just benefiting school children; engineering students can help develop their public engagement skills and trainee teachers their science teaching.

Activities such as this can demonstrate how diverse a field engineering is and how it can help facilitate the future.

More information on the Year of Engineering can be found on the government website (https://www.yearofengineering.gov.uk/) or on twitter (@YoEgovuk).

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