In this session, we took a closer look at three independent projects having a real impact in engineering engagement, reaching audiences underserved by traditional activities. The panel was chaired by Gareth Thistleton, Head of Social Investment and Sponsorship at Shell UK. See their top tips below.


Lindsay Keith and Wyn Griffiths


SMASHfest is different from traditional science and engineering festivals. It works with communities in areas experiencing economic deprivation to co-create a narrative driven festival. The project has been successful in drawing in young people normally excluded from science and engineering outreach.

Know your target audience. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to explain your value to potential sponsors.

  • Co-create with your audience so that you know you’re developing something that will interest them 
  • Engage audiences in an environment they’re already familiar with and comfortable in
  • Tell a story. This works particularly well for female audiences
  • Involve the whole family, not just young people


I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here
Shane McCracken

I'm an Engineer, Get me out of here

This online project gives students from anywhere in the UK the same chance to connect with engineers as those in our large towns and cities. Online communication also provides an often-overlooked equality of opportunity within the classroom.

  • Online engagement is not second rate - it creates equality of opportunity for all students, irrespective of where your school is located, and helps overcome confidence barriers
  • Make it easy and accessible
  • Involve a diverse range of engineers. They will benefit too, as it will reignite their passion for their jobs
  • Give young people direct access to engineers, so that they can ask about what’s personally important to them


Code Club
Clare Sutcliffe

Code Club

Code Club now operates 13,000 clubs in over 160 countries. It has been a major independent success story in getting pupils aged 9-13 learning the basics of coding. But the road to expansion is expensive and littered with major barriers. Clare describes some of the challenges she faced making the project sustainable.

Ten top tips to better corporate giving

  1. Don’t ring fence your donations for certain activities
  2. If the charity does a good job, give again next year – and tell them!
  3. Don’t spread your giving too thinly around multiple organisations
  4. Offer non-financial support as well as funding not instead of
  5. Be nice – answer their calls
  6. Don’t make extra work for the charity
  7. Minimise the effort needed to apply for funding
  8. Be clear about your strategy and decision-making process
  9. Don’t make them waste valuable resources on you
  10. Agree to fund anything else you need on top of the funding