Programme to inspire next generation of engineers reaches more than 20,000 pupils

Media Relations Team, 23 March 2023

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Two students holding equipment while blue light from machine shines onto desk in front of them

A programme designed to inspire a future generation to take up roles in green engineering has been completed, with more than 20,000 local school children benefitting.

Using curriculum-linked engineering outreach and careers support, the DETI Inspire programme connected primary and secondary school pupils with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen aspirations for green STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers.

Over two years, a team of UWE Bristol engineering staff working on the programme engaged children in primary and secondary education across the West of England, with a focus on disadvantaged areas. The team directly engaged over 20,206 children, 469 teachers, and 218 schools, with over 117,000 children in total reached through additional indirect dissemination efforts.

Along the way, children were able to have conversations with real-life engineers through Q&A sessions, card games and skill shares. 483 engineers were part of the outreach, as well as at least 17 industry partners and three charities.

Projects included creating a digital version of West of England landmarks in the popular block-building video game Minecraft, as well as an ‘Engineering Curiosity’ Top Trumps-style card game based on real-life engineers in the region.

Altogether, 1,473 student feedback responses were collected during the workshops. When asked to describe their level of interest in engineering before and after the session, ‘Very Interested’ in engineering responses increased 39 per cent and ‘Interested’ increased by 11 per cent.

Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, UWE Bristol Associate Professor for Engineering in Society, said: “We were thrilled with the success of this programme and to engage with so many young people and budding engineers. Inspiring a future generation of engineers has never been more important, as we seek urgent solutions to the climate crisis. The West of England is leading the way developing sustainability solutions with academia and industry collaborating to reach Net Zero by 2030. These green jobs are vital to our regional economy as well as the future security of our world.”

DETI Inspire built on the success of previous projects founded and launched by UWE Bristol, including Curiosity Connections – the network for inspirational primary STEM education in the West of England, and Women Like Me – a tiered mentoring project for women engineers.

The programme is managed by UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering in partnership with the University’s Science Communication Unit, with funding from the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI). The project is run in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador Hub, operated by Graphic Science.

DETI is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre, in partnership with Centre for Modelling and Simulation, Digital Catapult, UWE Bristol, University of Bristol and University of Bath. Industry partners include Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, and CFMS, with contributions from UWE Bristol, Digital Catapult and Siemens. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

An event will be held at the National Composites Centre on 23 March to celebrate the DETI programme. Access the final report about the DETI Inspire programme.

Dr Fogg-Rogers said: “DETI Inspire will continue to deliver activities to schools across the West of England Combined Authority, providing much needed coordination for digital engineering and green career progression. We will champion green jobs and STEM careers to ensure the development of this vital industry for the West of England, ensuring we work towards our goal of Net Zero 2030.”