Engineering for Life
Health – Public Engagement
Engineering for Life
Biomechanics Research Group
Professor Len Nokes, Ms Wendy Sadler and Ms Cherrie Summers
The aim of Engineering for Life was to create a greater public awareness of the impact of engineering research on the quality of life, an understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of engineering, and an understanding of how scientists work together to create ideas and products which solve problems that have a bearing on our everyday life.
The Cardiff School of Engineering is committed to engagement with its communities and to making young people aware of the fantastic opportunities offered by Engineering as a profession. Engineering for Life was a three year EPSRC funded project which involved a series of activities including engineering taster courses for schools, teachers and careers advisor events, visits to schools by staff and students, participation in major science festivals, an exhibition at the Eisteddfod, an exhibition at Techniquest over several months, production of a DVD which was widely distributed to schools and other organisations, a nationwide photographic competition, science communication training for engineers, presentations to local organisations like the Women’s Institute, hands-on workshops in engineering and physics for girls, and an Engineering for Life live interactive show by “science made simple” called From Cradle to Grave, which reached thousands of secondary students and their teachers throughout Wales and the South West of England. Engineers, physicists, clinicians, radiologists, and veterinarians participated in the project and provided advice.
Stephen Garnett with winning entry
A number of evaluation techniques were used to assess the success of these activities. The major findings were that young people are not receiving the information and advice that they need to be able to make informed decisions about STEM careers, particularly engineering which has not traditionally been taught in schools. It also confirmed the belief that the community in general is not as informed about the engineering profession as it is about other professions such as medicine, law and dentistry, and is unaware of the impact of engineering research on their daily lives. Over three years this project has gone some way towards filling this gap, helping to improve the image of engineering and science, and encouraging young people to consider STEM careers.
- The careers aspect of engineering is something we did not know much about. We can now improve the career information we give the pupils. (Secondary science teacher after Teachers and Careers Advisors event)
- 100% said they felt they understood more about engineering (80 girls KS 3 and 4 participating in Dragonfly Day event)
- Not all types of science are boring. It can be fun sometimes (Secondary Student after From Cradle to Grave Show)
- I learnt that engineering is very important to us (Secondary Student after From Cradle to Grave Show)
- I learnt about life and death and engineering in both (Secondary Student after From Cradle to Grave Show)
- I like engineering and the best bit was learning how engineers can save people and save the world.’ (Girl aged 8 after Superheroes Show)
- They not only learnt things, they were also entertained, which means they’ll remember this for a long time. (Teacher after From Cradle to Grave Show)