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Engineering - young people want to be informed

Ekevall, E. and Hayward, E.L. and Hayward, G. and Magill, J. and Spencer, E. and MacBride, G. and Bryce, C. and Stimpson, B.P. (2010) Engineering - young people want to be informed. In: Engineering Education 2010: Inspiring the next generation of engineers, 1900-01-01.

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Young people in developed nations recognise the contribution that science and technology make to society and acknowledge their importance now and in the future, yet few view their study as leading to interesting careers. Some countries are taking action to raise interest in science, technologies, engineering and mathematics and increase the number of students studying these subjects. One of the barriers to young people pursuing engineering is their limited or distorted perception of it - they associate it only with building and fixing things. Young people rarely encounter engineers, unlike other professionals, engineering has little or no advocacy in the media and there are few opportunities to experience engineering. Many of the pupils surveyed at the start of Engineering the Future, a three year EPSRC-funded project, wrote “don’t know what engineering is” and/or “would like more information”. This paper reports on work with researchers, policy makers and practitioners in Scotland to develop a sustainable model of activities and interactions that develops pupils’ understanding of the nature of engineering, embeds experiences of engineering within the school classroom and curriculum and promotes engineering as a career. After learning about engineering through the activities the pupils’ perceptions had improved. Almost all considered it important that young people know about engineering, because it is an essential part of everyday life and, in the words of one pupil - “If we know more about it, our minds wouldn’t stay closed to it. We would maybe take it up.”