How to inspire the next generation of engineers
SPONSORED October 29, 2019
Inspiring and hiring the next generation of talented, diverse engineers will need careful planning and considerable thought. But the first steps are already underway, say Britain’s thought leaders in engineering
BAE Systems’ Tempest fighter aircraft of the future
In one of the vast exhibition halls in East London’s docklands, school students are queueing excitedly to sit in the cockpit of a life-sized model of a future fighter jet called the Tempest, one the UK’s most ambitious engineering projects.
The queuing students are unaware that they are the focus of a discussion going on in a not-so-vast meeting room just above the hall. Here, some of the country’s leading engineers and employers from academia, industry and support organisations are debating how best to convert today’s interested students into tomorrow’s engineers.
It is a significant and increasingly urgent challenge. Tempest, which is due to enter service in around 20 years’ time, is just one of a number of new engineering challenges that may suffer from a shortage of engineers in future. “With the current shortfall, we would need 1 in every 10 students in a given school year to become an engineer,” says Kevin P Stenson, chief executive officer at The Smallpeice Trust, an educational charity that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to young people.
这是一个重大且日益紧迫的挑战。将于20年后投入使用的tempest知识未来工程师短缺带来的众多新工程挑战之一。教育慈善机构 Smallpeice Trust的首席执行官凯文-p-斯滕森表示：“在目前资金短缺的情况下，每个学年我们需要10名学生中就有一名成为工程师。”Smallpeice Trust是一家想年轻人推广科学、技术、工程和数学的慈善机构。
That’s why BAE Systems has convened this round table discussion, chaired by Steve Fogg, managing director of shared services at the company, to gather opinions and help solve the problem.
One important part of the puzzle is to appreciate that we don’t yet know exactly what will be required of tomorrow’s engineers. “Who’s to say what technology is going to be really important over the next 10-15 years?” asks Andy Wright, Director of Strategic Technology for BAE Systems. “The key will be to make sure people are constantly updating their skills and understanding.”
Recruits must be more diverse, said leading engineers at the BAE Systems round-table debate
Captain James Band, team leader of the Royal Navy’s University College Team, points out that the challenge is not just about who will design a next generation aircraft. “It’s also about developing the skills and knowledge needed to maintain and operate it for the next four decades,” he says. Costas Soutis, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Manchester, agrees. “We need the kinds of brains that can develop what we are going to need in 40 years’ time.”
詹姆斯班德对账，皇家海军大学团队的队长支出挑战不仅仅是谁来设计下一代飞机。他表示：“这还关系到培养维护和运营未来40年所需的技能知识。"曼彻斯特大学航空航天工业奖教授科 Costas Soutis对此表示赞同。”我们需要的大脑需要开发出我们在40年后所需要的东西。“
The introduction of the new “T Levels” in September 2020 should help. T Levels are two year courses that will be equivalent to three A Levels but that mix classroom learning with on-the-job training. The government developed these qualifications in partnership with industry so that post-GCSE students could study subjects while gaining valuable work experience.
But although those at the sharp end welcome such initiatives, they want to see even deeper change in the education system. “Education should be responsive, changing its focus and blending different subjects as the needs of the future become clear,” says Wing Commander Russ Barnes, Youth and STEM lead for the Royal Air Force.
One issue is assessments that are too inflexible and punitive towards students who struggle to perform at their best in, for example, pen and paper exam situations. “The current way of quantifying achievement needs to change,” says Hilary Leevers, CEO of EngineeringUK. “It means we are paying a very serious price in terms of who gets accepted onto apprenticeships.”
其中一个问题是，对于那些在笔试和试卷考试中难以发挥最佳水平的学生，评估过于僵化和严厉。“目前量化成就的方式需要改变，”EngineeringUK的首席执行官 Hilary Leevers说。“这意味着我们将为谁能成为学徒付出沉重的代价。”
There is also a cultural issue to overcome, says Simon Harwood, director of defence and security at Cranfield University: schools can often see and sell apprenticeships as an option for lower achievers. “We have got to make people proud to get apprenticeships,” he says.
Tom Gunter, senior policy manager at the Royal Academy of Engineering, points out that some universities such as Bath and Loughborough are pioneering a new approach where they refuse to see low grades in maths and physics as an insurmountable barrier to studying engineering. But he suggests that the problem often begins much earlier, with schools sidelining some pupils in maths and science and putting them onto a humanities track, before they have really had a chance to overcome any difficulties with the subjects. Schools also need to see alternatives to sixth form as worthwhile pathways. “Schools are just not talking enough about technical training,” he says.
英国皇家工程学院高级政策经理Tom Gunter指出， Bath和Loughborough等一些大学正在开窗一种新方法，它们拒绝将数学和物理的低分视为学习工程不可逾越的不可逾越的障碍。但他指出，问题往往开始得更糟，学校让一些数学和科学专业的学生退学，让他们进入人文学科的轨道，在他们真正有机会客服任何困难之前。学校也需要把六年级的替代课程看作是有价值的途径。他表示：“学校对技术培训的讨论还不够。"
Another way to improve throughput could be through the sharing of good interview candidates, suggests Richard Hamer, BAE Systems’ education and skills director. Firms often talk about a shortage of applicants for engineering roles, Hamer says, but that can be because students aren’t looking in the right places. BAE Systems tends to have several good candidates for a single opening, he says; with permission, it should be possible to pass on the details of those that didn’t get selected, to smaller firms that candidates might not have noticed. “We need to communicate effectively and get smarter at sharing candidates with smaller companies,” Hamer says.
BAE系统公司的教育和技能主管 Richard Hamer建议，另一个提高生产能力的方法是共享优秀的面试候选人。哈默尔表示，公司经常谈到工程师职位的申请人短缺，但这可能是学生因为没有找对地方。BAE系统公司倾向于在一个之微商有几个优秀的候选人，他说，如果得到许可，应该有可能将那没有被选中的细节传递给候选人可能没有注意到的小公司。哈默尔表示：”我们需要进行有效的沟通，更聪明地与小公司分享候选人。“
At the end of the discussion the delegates head back downstairs. The queue at the Tempest model has not diminished but the hope is that some of those standing patiently in line will be inspired to work on the real Tempest when the opportunity arises. There are no quick solutions for easing the path into engineering, but on this evidence there is no shortage of excitement. But if the engineering world can get the approach right, the results will be worth the wait.
Are you interested in an engineering career with BAE Systems? Then visit:
Increasing diversity in engineering
One of the biggest untapped sources of engineering talent are communities that are traditionally hard to attract. Current engineering trainees are overwhelmingly white and male, which means that engineering is missing out on the skills and talents of a broad swathe of the rising generation. This has to be addressed in approaches to reforming training.
Apprenticeships are less attractive to young women,” says Hilary Leevers, CEO of EngineeringUK. “And they are so competitive that they are not really helping with social mobility issues.”
Steve Fogg, managing director of shared services at BAE Systems and chair of the discussion, agrees. “Diversity will be a hugely important part of this solution,” he says.
Things are already moving in the right direction, however. “There are challenges but we can turn things around,” says Richard Hamer, BAE Systems’ education and skills director.
Working in partnership with organisations such as the Prince’s Trust, which helps young, unemployed people to access opportunities, has helped some engineering firms broaden their intake. Since 2004, the proportion of female apprentices at BAE Systems has risen from five per cent to 26 per cent. What’s more, nearly one third of the firm’s English apprentices came from the 20 poorest boroughs in the UK. This achievement is the result, in part, of BAE Systems’ approach to assessment. “We don’t just focus on the best academic scores – we’re also looking at behaviours and approach,” Hamer says.
That’s a big plus when it comes to maths and science, suggests Kerry Baker, strategic initiatives lead at STEM Learning UK. She reckons that the pipeline for potential engineers is being narrowed by a focus on superlative maths and science scores. “We should be asking whether the level of maths required to get onto engineering degrees is essential,” she says.
在数学和科学领域，这是一个很大的优势 Kerry Baker说，他是英国stem学习的战略倡导者。她认为，由于专注于最高的数学和科学分数，潜在的工程师人数正在减少。她表示：“我们应该问，获得工程学位所需的数学水平是否至关重要。”
“You can certainly have a very successful career in the engineering sector without strong maths and science skills, and we don’t actually know what skills people will need in the future. The most important thing might simply be a mental attitude where they are willing to learn.”
- Recordings reveal that plants make ultrasonic squeals when stressed
- One in 16 US women were forced into having sex for the first time
- Exclusive: Two pigs engineered to have monkey cells born in China
- We constantly eat microplastics. What does that mean for our health?
- The universe tends towards disorder. But how come nobody knows why?