The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced 17 projects that have been awarded funding under the Ingenious public engagement programme.

The projects, which include stage shows, hands-on workshops and online X Factor-style competitions for school children, are set to take place across the UK during 2017-2018 and will provide new opportunities for members of the public to meet professional engineers and learn about the exciting, creative work they undertake.

One project, as part of Glasgow Science Festival, brings together university engineers and theatre students to produce a live musical show to be performed for local secondary schools in disadvantaged areas, while another as part of Birmingham City Engineering Week will entertain the public with street performances.

Other community-based projects funded under the scheme will allow people to meet the engineers behind some of the most significant projects in their local areas, with residents of Thanet introduced to technicians from the world’s largest windfarm, and young people in Bath given the opportunity to redesign their city and stage an exhibition of their vision at a local museum.

Hands-on projects funded this year will equip teachers to design new teaching tools such as interactive apps, and provide new resources to challenge outdated views of the manufacturing industries. A collaboration between two Scottish universities will tour an interactive roadshow to introduce students and festival-goers to the challenges of different types of ‘sludge’, from custard to cement, for engineers in a range of industries.

Projects were selected to represent the diversity of the engineering profession in the UK, with a particular consideration given to proposals to reach underserved audiences. A successful online forum for children to ask questions of engineers will be extended to schools who will most benefit from it, while a new science show is being specially developed to reach audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Ingenious scheme not only gives people an opportunity to explore the some of the wide-ranging engineering challenges being tackled by researchers and UK industry, but it specifically provides funding to train and equip engineers themselves to develop their communication skills. Resources developed as part of the scheme can continue to be used in future years to allow a whole new group of engineers to engage with the public.

Professor Mark Miodownik FREng, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious panel, explained:

“Creative engineering underpins so much of our everyday life, from the necessities of energy and transport to the stunning design of modern cities. Engineering is everywhere! The Royal Academy of Engineering is really excited to fund these projects and give people the opportunity to see the engineering that’s all around them, to explore it in new ways, and to give engineers the opportunity to get out there and share the fantastic work they do.”

The full list of projects funded this year is:

  • A car for women and other stories: engineering via storytelling – University of the West of Scotland
    Engineers, artists and creative practitioners will work together to create a film based on the story of Dorothée Pullinger (1894-1986), pioneering automobile engineer, Director and Manager of Galloway Motors Ltd and a founding member of the Women’s Engineering Society. Public events will showcase the film in conjunction with a song writing project and additional workshops.
  • Birmingham City Engineering Week – Birmingham City University
    A collaboration between the School of Engineering and the Built Environment and the School of Acting at Birmingham City University, together with Thinktank (Birmingham Science Museum) and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, delivering seven days of events including street shows and hands-on demonstrations.
  • Circuits: connecting engineers with teachers to create novel teaching tools – University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow
    The project will empower secondary school teachers to design and use a novel teaching tool (an electrical circuit with a game-based app) that will provide new insights into electrical engineering. Teachers will gain a broader understanding of the role of electrical engineering in biomedical applications, and the project will connect them with professional engineers.
  • Engineering Britain’s railways for a digital age – Children’s Radio UK
    Equipping young engineers with media communication skills, the project will develop audio and visual features for broadcast and download explaining the new construction and digital technologies being introduced to create extra capacity on Britain’s railways, which carry over 3 million people each day in addition to crucial industry freight.
  • Engineering your future – Science Made Simple
    A new science show based on the award-winning book The Knowledge. The show will explore engineering as ways to solve problems and reveal the fundamental elements of how our modern world works.  The show will be especially developed to target audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Heritage heresy – re-imagining Bath by breaking all the rules – Graphic Science
    Young people will have an opportunity to reject practical and regulatory rules to imagine a future city where anything is possible. Supported by engineers and architects, the project will teach Bath residents about the city’s environment, history and contemporary challenges, and allow them to bring their ideas for a rebooted city to life at the Museum of Bath Architecture.
  • Hooked on invention: a young inventors’ club in a museum – Museum of the History of Science
    The project will enable graduate engineers to establish a ‘young inventors’ club’ based at the museum which houses a collection of everyday technology including clocks, cameras and calculators. Young inventors aged 9-13 will develop creative problem-solving skills as part of the club, which will culminate in a celebration event in Oxford.
  • How does stuff get made? Developing primary manufacturing outreach capabilities – University of Cambridge
    The project aims to help address the inaccurate and incomplete perceptions of ‘manufacturing’ that may be held by primary schoolchildren and their teachers. To do this, it will develop the primary-level outreach capabilities of manufacturing graduates and produce teaching resources for use in class that will be made available online.
  • iDiscover: introducing primary pupils to STEM careers – Inspire!
    A week-long programme for primary schools in north London introducing children to inspirational STEM careers while challenging gender and ethnicity stereotypes. Each year group will follow a themed programme of activities including meeting role model professionals, visiting workplaces and conducting experiments.
  • I’m an engineer – online STEM engagement for schools – Gallomanor Communications
    A successful education activity where students connect online with engineers to ask them questions, engage in live chats, and vote for their favourites. The project will run six interactive engineering zones reaching schools who will most benefit from engaging with professional engineers.
  • Imagineer – Glasgow Science Festival
    Developing live, musical shows that blend engineering with theatre, targeted at secondary pupils in areas of deprivation. The shows will draw on the experiences of engineers with themes ranging from visions of the future to the legacy of James Watt. The project will also develop online and post-show learning resources for teachers.
  • Lincolnshire engineering festival: SPARK! 2017 – school involvement and legacy projects – University of Lincoln
    Providing free access for schools to attend Lincoln’s third biennial celebration of engineering prowess in May 2017 – in which the city’s engineering community demonstrate their work and challenges in Lincoln Cathedral. The project will also train engineers to hold linked legacy events in winter 2017 and summer 2018.
  • Makespace: engineers and makers engaging us with the material world – Cheltenham Festivals
    The ‘Makespace’, on site at Cheltenham Science Festival, will bring engineers (from both industry and academia), scientists and makers together to inspire the public to explore the material world and the joy of making with interactive workshops and drop-in activities incorporating engineering, materials, art and technology.
  • Public engagement in automotive engineering – Smallpeice Trust
    The project will create a network of West Midlands and Warwickshire-based engineering graduates and apprentices, who will be trained to deliver ‘Family Engineering Days’ for schoolchildren aged 13-14 and their parents. The days will involve activities themed around automotive engineering, with families given the opportunity to design and make a powered vehicle for themselves.
  • SMASHfestUK: the earth and sky tour – Middlesex University
    The SMASHfestUK survival village is an interactive environment highlighting the powerful application of engineering in the face of adversities such as volcanoes, solar storms, and asteroid impact. The earth and sky tour will travel to disadvantaged areas taking the successful 2015/16 village to underrepresented groups across the UK and encouraging them to imagine how travelling beyond the earth and other engineering solutions can help respond to a disaster scenario.
  • The sludgy stuff engineering roadshow – University of Strathclyde and University of Edinburgh
    The roadshow will take a team of researchers from the two universities out of their labs and into schools and festivals to explore the world of sludge – materials such as custard, paints, magma and cement that present unique engineering challenges due to their unpredictable behaviour – with hands-on activities.
  • Turbines: a wind-wind solution? – Discovery Planet CIC
    The project will deliver a free two-day event for Kent residents to learn more about the world’s largest offshore wind farm, visible from the coast of Thanet. The event will allow local people to work alongside windfarm technicians and engineers to design their own turbines while learning about the technology and associated career opportunities.

Notes for editors

  1. Ingenious is an awards scheme, run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering. The scheme is supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

    The Ingenious programme aims to:
    - inspire creative public engagement with engineering
    - stimulate engineers to share their stories, passion and expertise in innovative ways with wider audiences
    - develop engineers’ communication and engagement skills
    - create debate between engineers and people of all ages to raise awareness of the diversity, nature and impact of engineering.

    Ingenious has funded over 189 projects to date, providing opportunities for over 5,000 engineers to take part in public engagement activities, to gain skills in communication and to help bring engineering to the very centre of society. Ingenious projects have reached over 2.5 million members of the public.

    Ingenious: public engagement awards
  2. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0655
E: Aaron Boardley