Female engineer on background of code

What do prosthetic limbs, YouTube, clean water, cosmetics, and biodegradable alternatives to plastic have in common?

They’re all products that engineers have played a critical role in creating - but that’s something that is likely to come as a surprise to many people.

Unfortunately, in the UK, we suffer from narrow and outdated stereotypes of what engineers do and the role they play in society.  If you type in the word ‘engineer’ into an online search engine today, the image results it produces lack diversity: in the faces of the people, and the disciplines of engineering represented.

That’s why we’ve made 6 November, in the middle of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, This is Engineering Day, a day to raise awareness of what engineers really do and celebrate those who are shaping the world we live in.

To challenge the narrow public perception of engineers and engineering, we’ve launched a new public image library of more representative images of engineers, a new Instagram channel @ThisisEngineering, and a challenge to help us change image search results for the word ‘engineer’.

AI image An AI trained on online image search results for ‘engineer’ generated artificial images of what it learned a typical engineer looked like – the majority of images generated were of a white man wearing a hard hat

Engineers and engineering organisations across the country are getting involved in the Day both online and offline:

  • More than 100 organisations have signed a pledge to increase the public visibility of more representative images of engineers and engineering
  • Amazon Alexa will answer questions about This is Engineering Day and the role of engineers, and Amazon will run engineering-focused tours of Amazon’s fulfilment centres
  • Network Rail is showcasing real images of engineers on 60 screens across 15 stations in the UK, and across the Virgin train network
  • Facebook and Ocado are creating and promoting new engineering video content featuring their engineers
  • Google are hosting an engineering takeover at its Portsmouth Digital Garage on 6 November
  • Many more are showing their support on social media using #ThisisEngineering

For more news about the day and our ambition, read our press release:

Press release: AI reveals misrepresentation of engineers online

It’s not too late to get involved. If you’d like to be a part of the day, you can:

  1. Discover what engineers and engineering really look like by following @ThisisEngineering on Instagram or visiting www.thisisengineering.org.uk
  2. Share a supportive message on social media using #ThisisEngineering and #TEWeek19
  3.  Use the images in our This is Engineering image library www.flickr.com/thisisengineering and ourThis is Engineering films online and offline – at events, on social media, for outreach activities, or in printed materials  
  4. Keep an eye out at train stations across the UK for our This is Engineering adverts, which showcase the varied roles that engineers play
  5. Ask Alexa, ‘What do engineers look like?’

Engineering is everywhere, and by shining a light on the people who make possible so many of the features of modern life, we hope to inspire more people from all parts of society to choose a profession that shapes our world.

If you have any questions, please get in touch at contact@thisisengineering.org.uk.