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Background

Engineering the Future: working together to enhance understanding, commitment and participation in engineering

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Engineering is vital to everyday life, it shapes the world we are living in and the future we are relying on. This three year project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to explore major challenges facing engineering.

Graduate engineers play key roles in meeting the needs of society today and for the future: climate change, medicine, information technology, electronics, transport infrastructure, architecture, economic development, commercial achievement are all fields in which the contributions of engineers are a prerequisite of success. In the UK the number of graduate engineers is stagnating and, unless action is taken, with the predicted increase in demand for engineers in future there will be a shortfall. Recruitment in electronic and electrical engineering is viewed as a particularly problematic area.

Young people lack an informed view of engineering, unlike, for example medicine and law, professions that benefit from powerful positive television images. There is very limited opportunity for engineering experiences in most school courses leaving young people unaware of the nature of engineering and the diverse career paths it offers. Similarly there have been few opportunities in recent years for people working in universities to have a detailed understanding of changes in schools thus making the transition to university harder than it might be.

Working with researchers, policy makers and practitioners, the project is developing a sustainable model of activities and interactions that develops pupils' understanding of the nature of engineering, embeds experiences of engineering within the classroom and curriculum, supports learning across the school-university transition and promotes engineering as a career.