Real engineering has come under the spotlight following a recent comment made by one of the UK’s top, living inventors, James Dyson. What Mr. Dyson was referring to in an interview with the Radio Times, is today’s penchant for internet based crazes and video gaming in particular, rather than in conventional engineering. Perhaps he does have a point, but of course we mustn’t overlook the fact too, that web technology is also one of the UK’s strongest niche markets. In fact last year the video gaming industry contributed over £1 billion to the UK’s economy.
The fact of the matter is that the boys and girls of today grow up with computers and computer gaming. It’s therefore quite natural that so many become young men and women with their eyes firmly set on making a career out of their hobby.
The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
But having said that, real engineering did receive a great boost from the awe inspiring opening of the Olympic Games only six months ago. For one thing it served to remind not only our nation but the rest of the world too, that Great Britain was the birthplace of the industrial revolution. But it was also a spectacular piece of showmanship that was underpinned by some serious real engineering. The problem is that it was a one-off, and if we are to continue to stimulate our young peoples’ interests in conventional engineering, we need to do more to keep its profile as high as possible.
Staying at the Forefront of Real Engineering
The UK is actually Europe’s leading oil and gas provider, and our aerospace industry is not only one of the largest in the world, but one of the most highly respected too. And yet out of 1,000 engineers recently questioned, 78% agreed we are not doing enough to groom the next generation of engineers. If we are to remain at the forefront of world engineering in these particular markets, we must find a way of boosting not only interest, but actual engineering student numbers too.
Adding more Fuel to the Fire
It was only a few weeks ago when our PRV Engineering blog reported that real engineering student numbers needs to double. So, on the heels of that, James Dyson’s criticisms only add more fuel to that fire. The industry itself is responding, but it’s the government too that really need to up the ante – particularly when it comes to stimulating women’s interests.
The Government takes a Step Back
Women’s participation in real engineering is still disappointingly low. A recent survey established that less than 6% of the engineering population are women! But instead of doing more to arouse female interest in engineering as a profession, our government seems to have taken a step backwards. Back in January 2011 they removed the £2.5 million annual funding that was allotted to UKRC (UK Resource Centre). The UKRC is the government body that was given the task of providing support and advice with regard to increasing the number of women going into SET (Science, Engineering and Technology). But without appropriate funding, it cannot perform with any real effect.
C’mon you Ladies
Engineering is a well paid career but it’s not being widely publicized enough. More should be done at school level to pass this message on to young female students. So come on ladies. With all the talk of equal opportunities, the male dominated engineering sector is ripe for plucking.
Do you have any ideas on how to get more females interested in engineering? Share them with our readers in the comments box.