Forty-four budding young engineers were the guests of honour at a special reception at the House of Commons on Wednesday 12 December, where they showcased their award-winning engineering projects – all inspired by LEGO play.
The students are part of five winning teams in the Engineers of the Future competition, a robotics and coding challenge which inspired children aged 7-16 across the UK to get hands-on and creative with real engineering projects – like developing ideas for renewable energy or sustainable water systems.
Engineers of the Future has seen the Government’s Year of Engineering campaign, LEGO Education and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) join forces to give more children around the country the opportunity to meet engineering role-models and to take part in engaging STEM activities.
The event, hosted by Stephen Metcalfe MP, which took place at the House of Commons, provided an opportunity for Parliamentarians to consider the central role of engineering to society and the importance of direct early experiences for children in inspiring and developing the engineers of tomorrow.
As part of the campaign, the Engineers of the Future roadshow visited primary schools across the UK this autumn and winter, with a focus on schools that hadn’t previously taken part in engineering activities. Led by engineers equipped with LEGO Education coding and robotic activities, the roadshow aimed to inspire children by giving them access to quality hands-on learning experiences to help them discover the exciting opportunities available to aspiring engineers.
Minister for the Year of Engineering Nusrat Ghani, said: “Today’s event is a celebration not just of the immense promise shown by these young engineers, but also of the partnerships that have helped us bring the profession to life for so many young people throughout the Year of Engineering.
“Working with LEGO Education and the Institution of Engineering of Technology, we have been able get many schoolchildren involved in engineering projects for the first time – a vital way of showing young people from all backgrounds the amazing things they could achieve as engineers.”
Nigel Fine, chief executive of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “Engineers of the Future gives young people the chance to experience engineering in action. The hands-on challenge has seen the teams develop their coding and programming skills and their aptitude for team-work, problem-solving and communication which gives a real insight into the creative and innovative careers that engineering and technology presents.
“There is a great need for young people to develop and have STEM skills to fill the next generation of engineering roles. We need to ensure we are nurturing young people’s curiosity about how things work and allowing them to investigate and explore their own solutions. Inspiring young people about STEM and its many applications will set them on an exciting path that could lead to a fulfilling career in engineering and technology.”
Victor Saeijs, senior vice president, Western Europe for the LEGO Group, said: “Our core mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, equipping children from an early age with the right skills to succeed, whatever their background or ambition.
“Today’s showcase is about recognising those children and giving them a platform to share their innate creativity, passion and aptitude for STEM with decision makers. We are delighted to have supported the Government on this initiative and believe it sends a clear message about the importance of investing in the development of key skills from an early age.”
The engineering profession needs 203,000 skilled people each year to 2024 and has an annual shortage of 20,000 graduates. The workforce also faces a major lack of diversity – only 12% of engineers are female and just 8% come from black, Asian or minority ethnic groups. The Year of Engineering campaign has been working with more than 1,400 partners to help change this by giving young people in all corners of the UK the chance to experience engineering for themselves – from meeting engineering role models in their school to taking part in hands on activities and workshops or engineering open doors events with their families.