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Curiosity, problem-solving and engineering a better future

Usborne are proud partners of the 2018 Year of Engineering. Jo Parry, Head of Year of Engineering Communications, explains why it is so important to inspire the next generation of engineers.

The 2018 Year of Engineering: inspiring the future
Schoolchildren meeting engineers at an Inspiring the Future event organised by Year of Engineering partner Education and Employers

Aside from ‘How was your day?’, ‘Haven’t you grown?’ and my Dad’s favourite, ‘Are you married?’ one of the most common questions adults ask kids is: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’

Whether the response is a fairy queen, astronaut, ballerina, dragon-tamer or teacher, kids look at the opportunities around them and use their experiences to work out what’s fun and suits them best.

But what if there are lots of real jobs out there, that are fun, offer you the chance to change the world, help other people and earn lots of money, but you don’t know about them? What then?

Across the country people are developing equipment to treat cancer, musical education toys for pre-schoolers, giving people access to clean water around the world, working out ways to make chips crispier and how to get roads and cars to ‘talk’ to each other to improve road safety. Although you’ll find them in lots of different places, doing lots of different things, they are united in their goal to find ways to make the world better – and because they tend to have a curious, problem-solving mindset.

They are also all engineers.

The 2018 Year of Engineering: inspiring the future
Schoolchildren meeting engineers at an Inspiring the Future event organised by Year of Engineering partner Education and Employers

Most of us are used to the idea that engineers have a role in making the tallest buildings, or the fastest cars, but too few of us understand the contribution engineers make to the world. In fact, research shows that only one third of parents know what engineers do.

Does it matter?

Unfortunately, the country does not have enough engineers and the shortage looks set to get worse. This is a great waste of potential for everyone. But it also means that our kids – especially girls - are not getting the opportunities to have the rewarding, world-changing careers that are open to them.

That’s why 2018 is the government’s Year of Engineering. Working with hundreds of partners from industry, education and the voluntary sector, it’s an opportunity to give as many young people as possible the chance to have an experience of engineering and to inspire the next generation of engineers.

The 2018 Year of Engineering: inspiring the future
Budding engineers from Sharples School display their designs following a workshop with engineering charity Remap

The 2018 Year of Engineering: inspiring the future
Students from Sharples School test out their ideas for using engineering to help people with disabilities, at a Remap workshop for the Year of Engineering launch

As part of the Year of Engineering we are very pleased that Usborne have published the Lift-the-Flap Engineering book (September 2018). The book is designed to encourage just the curious, problem-solving mindset that we need. As the saying goes, it’s hard to be what you can’t see. So having a fun, interactive book to inspire kids and their parents about engineering is and what it can achieve is just what’s needed.

When you are young and look at the world around you, you tend not to see the reasons why things can’t be done. Want to build a rocket? Where’s that empty plastic bottle? Need to fashion a hidden den for you and your cuddly koala? Hand me the sticky tape.

Over the course of 2018 there are lots of events and activities planned across the UK as part of the Year of Engineering to encourage this ‘can-do’, problem-solving approach to life. You can find more ways to inspire young engineers at the Year of Engineering.

Lift-the-flap engineering

Lift-the-flap engineering

Engineering helps shape the world around us, from the houses and cities we live in, to the way we travel, and even the sound of the music we listen to. Lift the flaps in this fascinating book to discover how engineering works and the many things engineers do. Includes internet links to find out more. Published for the 2018 Year of Engineering.

£12.99

Buy or find out more 

Jo Parry, Head of Year of Engineering Communications

Tags: year of engineering science stem


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