Let’s play the word association game. When I say the word ‘engineer’, I am pretty sure you that you will respond with ‘mechanical’. Now I’m no psychic, but how then did I anticipate your response?
I think it’s down to the word itself: engineer. What has an engine: machines. Machines for moving, machines for creating, machines for destroying, and so on. And what do all of those things have in common, they are: mechanical.
In actual fact, the word ‘engineer’ is the child of the Latin words ingeniare (‘to create, generate, contrive, devise)’ and ingenium (‘cleverness’). Somewhere along the semantic timeline the impression of it relating to ‘cleverness’ or being a genius has been lost.
So maybe being an engineer isn’t always to do with an engine? I’m glad you’re keeping up. This is where the Explore My Engineering Future project comes in. We are showing young people that being an engineer doesn’t necessarily mean getting a job improving the way aircraft function.
Being an engineer could mean that you are editing audio, designing roads that are more environmentally friendly, creating worlds in virtual reality, or helping on the construction of a rocket suit. Anything that makes you a genius makes you an engineer!
How are we going about it? We are creating 52 ‘Top Trumps’ cards based on diverse engineers who work in the South West. When playing the game, young people understand more about the skills required to do a certain engineering role by comparing the abilities of different engineers and reading the descriptions about what the job involves.
Each engineer also belongs to its own ‘Engineering Family’, a group of four engineers who do a similar job or work in a similar field. Students can then also understand how engineers relate to one another, and which engineers may work together on collaborative projects.
What if the students want to find out more? Each engineer also has their own ‘TikTok’ style video which explains the best and worst parts of their job, their career/life journey, and advice they would give to young people.
So what is the main message we’re trying to get across: engineering is not just for machines, it’s for geniuses.