The Royal Academy of Engineering today announced the finalists in its inaugural Education Innovation Prize. The winner of this £10,000 prize sponsored by BNFL plc will be announced at the Academy’s Innovation in Engineering Education Symposium on 30 March 2006 at the RSA. This year’s six finalists are:

Imperial College’s Constructionarium is a learning event involving a residential week where 20 to 30 students take control of their own construction sites, replicating real-life projects to the extent that contractors and consultants provide services and advice for a fee, which must be met from a budget. A client negotiates all contract claims and variations with each team. The success of this initiative has led industry to create Constructionarium Ltd, which now organises partnerships between universities, contractors and consultants, and develops portfolios of suitable projects.

King’s College London’s EngineeringArt strategy is to engage with undergraduates, the arts community and the general public by exploring the connection between sciences, engineering and the arts. The programme shows how engineering technically underpins innovations in film, music, design, fashion, jewelry, architecture and art, and explores the historically close relationship between science, engineering and the arts and emphasises that engineering is part of our culture and not separate from it.

Liverpool University’s steeluniversity.org is an interactive free-to-use global resource dedicated to steel and associated technologies. It aims to educate and excite young people about steel, attract graduates into careers in the steel industry and provide professional development within the industry. Modules deal with steel processing, products and their applications, the underlying scientific and engineering principles and environmental issues. The sustainability of ferrous metallurgy knowledge in academia is another vital aim.

Innovative Education for Engineers at Queen’s University Belfast is an experiential course that opens up the world of creative thinking methods and skills that emerging engineers should have. Sixty engineers are challenged by this course every year, where lectures are interlaced with poetry to tease carefully crafted phrases from mathematical brains. Film clips explore leadership and ethics, passion, risk taking and service, and how engineers build on the shoulders of giants. Board room style tutorials get past the usual answers to the unusual and case studies explore the successes and failures of world class companies.

Design, Build, Test, Float, Fly and Race is a team based hands-on activity run by the University of Southampton which is designed to provide participants, from both schools and universities, with three challenging tasks in three days. These involve building a balsa wood glider, radio controlled car and electric speedboat to give them a flavour of the three engineering courses taught at the university. The event culminates in race day when the teams compete against each other and give presentations about their work.

Strathclyde University’s main driver for its series of IEE Scotland Christmas Lectures was the need for engineers to demonstrate and communicate the creativity, novelty, importance and excitement of their activities in order to stimulate school-aged children about a career in engineering. The concept is to make each lecture an exciting multimedia experience describing the creativity and challenges within engineering. In addition a complementary activity, the Careers, Scotland Space School run in partnership with NASA, has provided young people with an experience of higher education within the university, using lectures, experiments, team activities and problem solving challenges.