We have a lot to thank engineers for.
From access to clean water and electricity, to technologies and transport that help us keep in touch with other people, engineers have made a difference to almost every aspect of our lives. They also play a really important role in tackling some of the biggest challenges society faces, from COVID-19 to climate change. Our mobile phones, clothes, the games we play, music we listen to and films we watch have all been made possible, in some way, by engineers.
Yet, research shows that almost half of pupils aged between seven and 19 haven’t even considered engineering as a potential job; the same young people who want their careers to make a difference and have a positive impact on the world.
This has to change if we are to arrest the UK’s annual shortfall of 59,000 engineers.
One of the main barriers to young people pursuing a career in engineering is deeply rooted cultural perceptions of the profession being mechanical, too technical and boring, which is why, in 2019, the Royal Academy of Engineering launched the first This is Engineering Day, a nation-wide initiative to publicly celebrate engineering and challenge misperceptions. The day was a huge success, attracting national media attention and participation from individuals, organisations and influencers. The positive groundswell of support on social media, from the likes of Tim Peake and Lewis Hamilton, propelled #ThisIsEngineering onto Twitter’s Trending Topics list.
This year the theme is #BeTheDifference: a celebration of the engineering that shapes our world for the better, whether that’s by making our day to day lives easier or tackling some of our biggest global challenges.
Farming futurist Ben, flood fighter Milly, walk wizard, Alan and power pioneer Enass are just some of the engineers making a difference to our world with feats of engineering that are hidden in plain sight. This is why the Academy’s first female CEO, and diversity champion Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, is appealing to companies, organisations and individuals across the UK to join the charity on 4 November in publicly showcasing – online and offline – the engineers and engineering making our world a very different place.
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You can get involved in This Is Engineering Day 2020 on Twitter @ThisIsEng and Instagram @ThisisEngineering or by using the Hashtag #BeTheDifference.