Our World In 2050 (OWin2050)
Inspiring the Next Generation of engineers
(original version first posted on the Greater London Young Members Committee News)
What role will Engineering play in 35 years time?
A month ago I coordinated a group of fantastic young volunteer engineers to run the day long Our World in 2050 STEM engagement activity with the IMechE Greater London Young Members panel for around 170 yr. 8 students (boys on one day and girls on the other). Alongside being expertly supported by the fantastic Design & Technology Teacher.
The OWin2050 day is all about actively demonstrating the variety of roles and responsibilities an engineer has in contributing to a sustainable society, one that is already experiencing increasing risks and effects from climate change. Not too far from them was the Thames Barrier, a great real life example of a structure already built to cope with some of these considerations.
From the infrastructure surrounding us, the products that we buy and the systems that we’re part of, engineers play a huge part in their planning, development and execution. Choices made in the past have contributed to where we are now……..
Where will we be in 35 years time and what can engineers design for adaption and mitigation to climate change in 2050?
On the day volunteers kicked off with an initial introduction and presentation covering the topics of energy, waste and resources and transport, outlining some of the key challenges and giving some inspiration with some emerging possible solutions and examples. With diverse backgrounds and roles varying from energy an electrical power networks, drilling, product design and subsea, there was a great breadth of first-hand expertise, insight and engineering enthusiasm in the room.
“Volunteers and presenters are a great way of engaging pupils as they can give first hand and relevant experience of working in that field. “ D&T teacher
It was then quickly on to the teams of students using and being guided through a variety of engineering and design thinking, tools, templates and processes,(including using the Design Council’s Double Diamond process as a basis) from initial mind mapping and concept ideation, to evaluating, before detailing and presenting their final proposals to the rest of the class.
“Volunteers were helpful and engaging throughout, spent time working with pupils in groups and helping them develop their ideas.” D&T teacher
Results and outputs from the different groups varied greatly as well as between the general level obtained and themes explored by the boys and girls. Let’s just say, women engineers out there can look forward to the next generation… 😉
The boys generally explored less around the subject area and honed in on an almost a final design from the start, with concepts focusing predominately around transport and it’s infrastructure; smart roads inspired by scalextric, and various cars, buses and planes integrating alternative and renewable technologies to power them.
For the girls their concept areas varied greatly from food scanning to reduce waste, apps for smart electricity switching, measurement and holographic communication of energy usage, bike lane infrastructure, solar-powered fish tanks and capturing and harvesting the methane from cows.
It was interesting to see how many had also linked the engineering and technology design with particular consideration of the communication, education and awareness raising to the user through possible campaigns, advertising or gamification.
“The activities were really good, they are relevant and the resources were well planned.”D&T teacher
All the volunteers on each day had a great time, coming away invigorated by the enthusiasm and great ideas from many of the students. As well as this an important reminder of the work done by dedicated staff in our schools supporting students to recognise the opportunities and rewarding career that engineering may bring. The important career path they may take and be able to use their problem solving skills developed and mind-set to engineer for society and the environment, both now and what could be a difficult future.
Thanks to the school, teachers and students for hosting us, and to all the volunteers that supported!
*We have 2 other Our World in 2050 session planned on the 13th and 14th of July in London where we’ll need lots of volunteers. If you’d like to get involved or to find out more please get in touch
All photos authors own – credit concepts to HACA Bexley