Students from schools around Manchester have been challenged by the engineers behind the special effects in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor Ragnarok, Glastonbury’s giant fire-breathing spider, famous chocolate and jelly sweets, and chewing gum to follow what they love into engineering.

Students from St Annes RC High School show @Gadgetsboy their Easter egg packaging designs

Around 60 students aged 13 to 16 attended the Future Collective, a Royal Academy of Engineering event at the Sharp Project in Manchester, to work with engineers in industries not usually associated with engineering on a series of interactive challenges.  The students designed stages from scrap, sent encrypted messages, solved production line problems, designed Easter egg packaging, and created film special effects.

According to a recent report from EngineeringUK only 24% of young people in the North West aged between 11 and 19 (28% nationally) say they know what people working in engineering do, and less than a third (31%) would know what to do next to become an engineer (national average 38%). Yet the report also shows that in the North West the number of engineering enterprises has risen by 23.6% in the five years to 2016 and there is an annual demand for just over 12,000 engineers and technicians with core engineering skills, and almost 8,000 roles that require engineering knowledge and skills alongside other skill sets.

The North West has strong nuclear, automotive and aerospace industries that have engineering at their heart, but at the Future Collective students had the opportunity to explore engineering roles that they may not have known about in TV, film, and food. The students also contributed to a series of recommendations that will be made to government about how to address the challenge to get more young people into engineering careers.

Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering said;

“We want to challenge students at this important time in their lives to consider how their interests now could become their career of tomorrow. Engineering opens the door to opportunities that people may know about, like aircraft design and energy supply, but they might not know that engineers are vital to a whole range of things from making chocolate Easter eggs to special effects in Hollywood blockbusters.”

The Future Collective event is part of the #ThisIsEngineering campaign that was launched earlier this year by the Royal Academy of Engineering in collaboration with EngineeringUK and industry partners. It aims to give more young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to explore how they could follow what they love into a varied and fulfilling engineering career across a range of industries from film, to sport, gaming and music.

Launched in the government’s Year of Engineering, the campaign is being backed by a consortium of major engineering companies and has been created in response to significant demand for engineering talent in the UK.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of #ThisIsEngineering shows that 63% of young people (aged 13 to 18) think they will have a career that taps into their existing passions. They also said that when it comes to talking about the kinds of jobs they would like to do, they would prefer their parents to talk to them about their current interests, rather than what they want to be when they grow up.

The Future Collective set out to challenge the perceptions of students in Manchester on what engineering is and show some of the breadth of careers available.

Notes for Editors

  1. 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

  1. This is Engineering is a new, multi-year digital communications campaign to encourage teenagers to consider a future in engineering. It uses short videos on social media to show teenagers how engineering plays a part in things they love, such as music, film, gaming and sport, and makes this content available for everyone – educators, the engineering community, and the wider public – to use.
    Launched in the government’s Year of Engineering, the campaign is being led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, in collaboration with EngineeringUK, and with the generous support of corporate partners

Strategic partner

Founding Principal partners

Principal partners


For more information please visit or follow @ThisIsEng on twitter.

For more information please contact:

Victoria Runcie at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0620

E:  Vicky Runcie