The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced 26 new Ingenious Public Engagement awards for projects that will engage the public with an exciting variety of engineering themes. With topics ranging from engineering solutions to the global climate emergency to engineering bedtime stories for young children, the projects will work with diverse audiences across the UK, igniting interest in the wonders of engineering to help inspire the next generation of engineers.
The Ingenious programme offers grants of up to £30,000 to support creative public engagement with engineering projects while providing engineers with skills and opportunities to share their stories, passion and expertise with the public.
In Bedtime Stories for Very Young Engineers, Engineers from diverse engineering fields across the UK will write short bedtime stories about their area of engineering expertise that will enthral and inspire children, introducing 2–5-year-olds to the world of making, improving and maintaining the human-made world around us.
Engineering Humans, run by a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Central Lancashire, will exhibit the latest advances in technology. The virtual programme showcasing robotics, human rehabilitation and enhancement technology will be delivered to over 300 aspirational high school pupils from Central and Eastern Lancashire.
Many of this year’s projects focus on environmental issues, from creating a more sustainable future, reducing plastic waste, to the role of engineering in tackling climate change.
Engineers from Swansea University will develop several public engagement activities in Engineering In Your Future: Sustainable City focusing on the role of engineering in working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including the diverse perspectives required to aid innovation and creative thinking.
Urban NatureBots: exploring the natural world through engineering and technology, will see a collaboration between Leeds Libraries, Leeds Museums and the University of Leeds. Working together the team will create a modular STEAM-focused series of activities, focusing on tackling environmental issues and using developments in technology for societal and environmental good.
The School of Engineering at the University of Liverpool will engineer solutions to the global climate emergency in The Future Food Engineering & Enterprise Challenge through an enterprise competition that will pair engineer mentors and young people from marginalised and under-represented groups across Merseyside. The young people and their mentors will collaborate throughout the year to develop a start-up business that will bring sustainable food production to their local community.
BLAST Fest Youth Media Fellowships: Grand Challenges, Local Goals will engage engineers with young creatives to explore the role of Engineering in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Working with engineers and mentors, four young creatives will explore the role of Engineering in responding to such challenges and how we can imagine, build, and communicate an inclusive economy and sustainable future for all.
The Ingenious panel was particularly interested in projects that focused on changing perceptions of engineers and reaching underrepresented audiences. Panel Chair Professor Anthony Finkelstein CBE FREng said “We are delighted to be supporting such a rich mix of projects through the Ingenious awards. In particular we have funded many projects that focus on working with groups currently underrepresented in engineering, such as New Scots Connect, where engineers will work with refugees and asylum seekers and those with diverse migration backgrounds, in building engagement through creative engineering-themed activities. As a panel we are passionate about supporting projects that focus on the future of engineering and provide engineers with the opportunity to engage new and diverse audiences. These projects will give engineers the opportunity to showcase their work and gain confidence from working with the public and inspiring interests in engineering.”
Engineering Heroes of the Future
In Engineering Heroes of the Future, Engineers will help to design and deliver an entertaining investigative game about future roles in engineering. The game will be designed to enable a diverse audience of 8- to 13-year-olds to collaborate, play and socialise.
Working with an audience and engineers from a BAME background, workshops to build the characters and define how these are used will be supported by Bath and Bristol Engine Shed (Enterprise Zone) and University of the West of England (Communication Unit /Robotics Lab). Outcomes will be tested with partner schools before final production and wider promotion and use by STEM Ambassadors, businesses and schools.
Let’s Play Wester Hailes
Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh
Let’s Play Wester Hailes is a collaboration between community arts organisation WHALE Arts and the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. The project will engage with young people in Wester Hailes to create and code a series of video games based around the area in which they live. Wester Hailes is a housing scheme on the edge of Edinburgh that has been reported as an area of significant social deprivation. Games companies and young software engineers who work in the gaming industry will be invited to share their experiences.
This celebration of video games aims to introduce young people to the engineering skills required to make great video games. Bringing games professionals together with the audience will help to create opportunities for software engineers to engage with an interested public while simultaneously prompting our audience to consider a career in games development.
ICanToo: Inspirational, Educational, Unique
The REACT Foundation, Cumbria
ICanToo brings together engineers with underachieving Year 9-11 students in West Cumbria to provide inspirational, educational, and unique STEM-related experiences. Activities will range from inspirational talks to engineering facility visits, regular assertive mentoring, culminating in a residential trip to an industrial city to explore its engineering heritage.
Through ICanToo, The REACT Foundation will support a diverse range of students who are not reaching their potential, working with those who have the aptitude to succeed, but who lack aspiration or are from deprived backgrounds with insufficient support.
Local engineers will be given a platform to share their passion and expertise while improving key engagement skills. By engaging students with engineers, the gap between school STEM subjects and real-world application will be bridged, demonstrating the future opportunities available and inspiring a new generation of engineers.
Inspiring young, disadvantaged children to the world of engineering work
National Literacy Trust, North East of England
Dream Big is a five-week programme that provides an opportunity for engineers to inspire disadvantaged children aged 5 to 7 years in the North East of England to the world of engineering work.
The National Literacy Trust will deliver a fully immersive experience in the world of work for children, which will be followed up with a half term of classroom lessons exploring different roles each week. Finally, by participating in Dream Big day, children can safely explore different roles through free and imaginative play, before being celebrated and rewarded for their participation.
The project will specifically raise awareness of engineering roles among disadvantaged children, enabling them to imagine their futures in this sector, as well as improving the communication and engagement skills of engineers.
The Future Food Engineering & Enterprise Challenge
University of Liverpool, Merseyside
The Future Food Engineering & Enterprise Challenge will pair engineer mentors and young people from marginalised and under-represented groups across Merseyside to engineer solutions to the global climate emergency through a multi-stage, inter-school enterprise competition.
The young people and their mentors will collaborate throughout the year to develop a start-up business that will bring sustainable food production to their local community. The year will culminate with a 'dragon's den' style pitching competition where teams present their solution to a panel of Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub Fellows.
The project, led by the University of Liverpool’s School of Engineering, will test and develop an activity framework drawing on YESTEM’s equity compass, supporting engineers to engage young people, their teachers and families beyond the lifespan of the project
Anytime, Anywhere Engineers
National Farmers’ Union, across the UK
Anytime, Anywhere Engineers will provide primary school children from rural communities and their families with a unique insight into the world of engineering. Through five engaging and interactive online family STEM club sessions, children will learn about life as an engineer as they are guided through a series of activities based on real-life engineering practices and principles. Led by the National Farmers’ Union, each session will be hosted by agricultural engineers, who will run the sessions alongside experienced education practitioners.
These live sessions will be recorded and shared online alongside immersive, interactive 3D tours of five different engineering workplaces so the children can explore the world of engineering at their own pace. Educational videos and interviews, tailored to primary learners, will be embedded into the virtual tours to further enhance the learning experience.
Engineer the Story with TikTok
Ideas Foundation, London
Engineer the Story with TikTok enables engineers to create micro stories about their work that can be shared on TikTok, as well as Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook.
Ideas Foundation will work engineers from diverse backgrounds and challenge them to create online stories that will change the perception of engineering on platforms such as TikTok that are trying to increase the quality of their education content. The online stories will be aimed at young people and their families who are increasingly using online platforms for careers insights.
The project will work closely with the Engineering Departments at Queen Mary University of London, King's College as well as engineers from other universities.
University of Lancashire, Lancashire
Engineering Humans is a virtual programme showcasing robotics, human rehabilitation and enhancement technology to inspire the next wave of engineers from Central and Eastern Lancashire.
Advanced robotics, cobot and automation research and design are burgeoning fields in the region. This locale shows high economic diversity and positions this new online programme perfectly to be delivered to over 300 aspirational high school pupils.
A multi-disciplinary team from the University of Central Lancashire will recruit some of the world’s best and brightest minds to spotlight their stories. Engineers, co-creating with a student-led media production team will produce fascinating insights through short narrative interviews that will be combined with live online demonstrations by a group of industry volunteers, showcasing the latest advances in technology.
Daughters of Invention primary schools engineering partnership with Birmingham University
The Play House, Birmingham
Daughters of Invention is an exciting drama and engineering project that will develop student engineers’ confidence and skills in public engagement while increasing primary school children’s engagement in and understanding of engineering.
A team of drama practitioners from The Play House and eight PhD and MEng Engineering students from the University of Birmingham's Mechanical Engineering Department will develop a series of 12 immersive drama and engineering workshops, which will be delivered to 240 Year 5 children from four inner-city primary schools.
Working with girls and children in Birmingham from under-represented backgrounds in engineering, the project will raise children's aspirations, as well as increasing their confidence to participate in higher education.
Engineering Sustainable Photographic Processes
University of Birmingham, Birmingham
Using household items and materials from their local environment, Key Stage 4 students and teachers from diverse communities in the West Midlands will take part in a series of workshops about sustainability in engineering.
An artist-photographer and engineers from the University of Birmingham will show participants how to create photographic prints, using materials engineering skills to build cameras and to create their own developers and emulsions. The project will provide an engineering challenge to be solved using sustainable best practice.
Students and teachers will develop the capacity to see everyday items as engineering tools. Throughout the workshops, the team will actively encourage participants to consider all their activities, both in and outside the project, in the context of sustainable practice and engineering.
BLAST Fest Youth Media Fellowships: Grand Challenges, Local Goals
BLAST Fest, Birmingham
As the world recalibrates in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, the voices of young people in shaping a better future are more important than ever. The BLAST Fest Youth Media Fellowships will engage engineers with young creatives aged 18-24 to explore the role of engineering in responding to such challenges and how we can reimagine, rebuild and communicate an inclusive economy and sustainable future for all.
Four Youth BLAST Media Fellows will be matched with both an engineer and a creative mentor and receive a bursary that includes a small event production budget. The Fellows will attend multimedia and science communication masterclasses and be connected to engineering and media networks, and career development opportunities. The creative content generated through the Fellowship will be platformed through BLAST Fest live and online events, and the cohort’s journey collated into a final short film.
Bedtime Stories for Very Young Engineers
Clever Make Funny Productions , London
Bedtime Stories for Very Young Engineers will give engineers, parents and carers the skills, information and raw materials they need to create fun and engaging bedtime stories to introduce 2–5-year-olds to the world of making, improving and maintaining the human-made world around us.
Working with award-winning engineer and storyteller Dr Anna Ploszajski and public engagement professional Dr Steve Cross, Engineers from diverse engineering fields across the UK will write short bedtime stories about their area of engineering expertise that will enthral and inspire children.
The engineers will find that they can use their storytelling skills in the workplace, and in time, it is hoped that a new generation will become excited by engineering.
Build-a-Bear 2.0: your favourite animal made from plastic waste
Newcastle University, Newcastle
Plastics have invaded our world from Mount Everest to the Mariana Trench. While plastic waste is a huge environment challenge, the material is really useful for essential items such as personal protective equipment.
Working with underrepresented groups in engineering in the Northeast and Northwest, the project team from Newcastle University will demonstrate how to design their favourite animal or name and print their designs with resin made of recyclable waste, which can be taken home as a lasting legacy.
Build-a-Bear 2.0 will build awareness of the impact of plastic on the environment and on human health and will show how engineers are working to reduce plastic waste and inspire a young generation of future engineers to take action and contribute to sustainability.
Creatively creating the materials of the future
University of Leeds, Leeds
Creatively creating the materials of the future will deliver public engagement activities that embrace creativity and creative thinking to allow young people and families to explore innovation in material design.
Using the Bragg Centre for Materials Research at the University of Leeds as a platform, the project will connect engineers and artists to work together and explore innovation in materials design. Supported and trained to develop material for an interactive web-based resource, Engineers will share the creativity and imagination of their materials research with the public, including videos, demonstrations, interviews, games, an open competition and an engineering creativity bag. These resources will engage community groups, youth groups and their families, with the competition forming part of a public exhibition in Yorkshire, showcasing the innovative advanced materials developed by the engineers, captured through the imagination of members of the public.
Engineering Play: Activity Design for Pre-School Innovators
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
In Engineering Play: Activity Design for Pre-School Innovators, Heriot-Watt University, and Nurture the Play will work with 20 engineers to design and deliver activities communicating engineering concepts to pre-schoolers and their families through play. Engineers will gain skills in working with early years audiences, developing their knowledge of learning through play and gaining expertise in engagement with low-science capital families via both online and face-to-face interactions.
This project utilises play to engage pre-school children with engineering, combining songs and stories with specific toys and hands-on challenges/activities, covering a diverse range of less-traditional engineering topics. With the help of 20 selected families, a range of developed resources will be trialled to improve activities and evaluate the most successful approaches to build science/engineering capital for families with pre-school children living in areas of multiple deprivation in Edinburgh.
Engineering for All
The Isle of Wight College, Isle of Wight
Engineering for All will establish access and equal opportunity into engineering, raising awareness of engineering and a wider understanding of its importance in today’s world. It will inspire groups with lower aspiration, participation and representation in engineering and sustainable technology such as Wind Energy, Robotics, Precision Engineering, Aeronautical, Electronics, Mechanical, Composites, Marine etc.
Targeting females, younger people, care leavers and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the project will inspire and promote confidence in progressing into engineering focussed learning and work, creating opportunities for disadvantaged backgrounds across the Isle of Wight.
Activities will include events on National Women in Engineering day and School programme developing including projects -such as Robotwars, Introduction to Cobots, projects-open to all schools but reserved places for young people from disadvantaged areas.
Engineering: Take a closer look
Manufacturing NI, Northern Ireland
In Engineering: Take a closer look, Manufacturing NI will work with engineers from 15 local engineering firms to help them engage with and deliver a series of engineering inspired events and activities as part of Manufacturing Month Northern Ireland in May 2021 and through to May 2022. The project will provide engineers with the opportunity to gain experience in public engagement and inspire diverse audiences on the importance of engineering.
The project will work with pupils and their families from 6 schools which form part of the Roe Valley Learning Community and will train engineers from 15 engineering firms, as well as 6th form pupils in Northern Ireland and local manufacturers.
Bangor University, Bangor
In Ingenious Engineering, Bangor University will work with local sixth-formers in North Wales, aged between 16 and 18. Cutting through traditional academic boundaries with mentoring from industrial and academic partners, they will embrace ingenious and enterprising aspects of engineering to support the rural community in the North West Wales region.
Students will attend a series of workshops focusing on inspiration, creativity, sustainability, and commercial awareness of various aspects of engineering, then develop a concept for a product and experience that encourages a healthy lifestyle and mental wellbeing.
The project will culminate in an exhibition and presentations, with participating sixth-formers ‘pitching’ their concept to a panel of academic and commercial experts.
Urban NatureBots: Exploring the natural world through engineering and technology
Leeds Libraries, Leeds
Working together, Leeds Libraries, Leeds Museums and Galleries and the University of Leeds will create a modular STEAM-focused series of activities, focusing on tackling environmental issues and using developments in technology for societal and environmental good.
A programme of workshops aimed at young people aged 7 - 14 and their families will inspire the next generation of digital makers and engineers through creative experiments using a variety of easy to access electronics kits. The workshops will take place over the course of a year, using newly formed adjustable and transportable makerspaces. Inspiration will be drawn from Leeds Museums MyLearning and insect collections plus Leeds Libraries’ specialist collections, including local engineer John Smeaton, the Gott Bequest and Genera insectorum Linnaei et Fabricii.
Families will work with engineering researchers from the University of Leeds to explore how robotics, Internet of Things and data analytics can be combined to monitor and help the natural world around us.
REACH: Researchers' and Engineers' Alliance for Communication in Healthcare
University of Bristol, Bristol
REACH will bring together engineers from academia and industry with public engagement specialists to create a platform that will promote a culture of public engagement within the biomedical engineering community.
The project will inspire bioengineers across different disciplines such as cardiovascular engineering, sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence, imaging/image-processing and 3D printing to embrace public engagement, co-creation and creative interdisciplinary collaborations as part of their work.
REACH will also enable outreach activities and promotion of the diverse and multifaceted nature of bioengineering, particularly targeting students in schools and universities as well as engineering graduates who have drifted away from the field or who want to apply their engineering skills to advancing healthcare and wellbeing.
Regional Community Celebrations of STEM
Regional Community Celebrations of STEM will provide schools in remote communities of Scotland, Highland, Shetland and Orkney, with funding to develop a STEM project to showcase and compete for primary and secondary Regional Club of the Year titles.
Working with SCDI, engineers will provide STEM challenges, drop-in activities and talks, and pupils will have the opportunity to interact with engineers and engage with engineering outside of normal educational settings, as well as explore the range of STEM careers available. Teachers will also be able to share best practices and their enthusiasm for STEM.
This project will focus on engaging with those currently under-represented in the engineering community, specifically girls, and those from geographically remote or deprived communities.
New Scots Connect
Science Ceilidh, Edinburgh
New Scots Connect will link New Scots, including refugees, asylum seekers and those with diverse migration backgrounds in Scotland, with engineers.
In partnership with Multicultural Family Base and Napier University, it will support a youth-led creative engineering community programme, along with connecting New Scots adults - many with their own technical and engineering backgrounds - to connect with Scottish engineering, share transferable skills, develop technical English language skills and support cross-cultural exchange and learning.
Science Ceilidh will also be extending the reach of the project by developing resources for other youth workers and other refugee and migrant support organisations across Scotland and the UK to engage with engineering and showcase diverse migrant voices and stories.
Engineer your future: a taster in careers in electronics
University of Sheffield, Sheffield
In Engineer your future, academics at the department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Sheffield will develop a series of technical activities, culminating in an annual weeklong taster course in electronics for 17-year-olds from surrounding state schools.
The project will be conducted in partnership with Work-wise Foundation, a Yorkshire based not-for-profit organisation focussed on the development of STEM skills in young people from all backgrounds. The partnership will also feature the EDT, local teachers, and industry professionals.
The workshop will include visits to local industry with a final competition based on an FM surveillance transmitter that participants will make and take home with them. Activities for schools and teachers will continue beyond the workshop, including opportunities for mentorship with both academia and industry.
Training and mentoring innovative technology engineering ambassadors
Bloodhound education, Gloucester
Bloodhound education will raise the profile of careers in STEM by providing the opportunity for students to engage in practical activities which develop the essential work skills which will be transferrable in any career.
Students will develop essential employability skills through contextualised learning activities and will be encouraged to consider taking relevant subjects at school that will ultimately lead to a STEM career.
The project will showcase the latest engineering technologies in the Gloucester area and train, equip and mentor a new group of ambassadors from local apprentice groups to work with the students.
Engineering In Your Future: Sustainable City
Engineering In Your Future: Sustainable City will see Engineers from Swansea University develop several public engagement activities that focus on the role of engineering in working toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
There will be a particular focus on the diverse perspectives required to aid innovation and creative thinking during collaborative problem solving, as well as the need for just engineering solutions, which will benefit a wide cross-section of the society.
Activities will be delivered to secondary schools from the South West Wales area, with the project culminating in a design challenge and prize giving ceremony at Swansea University.
The Janus Project - Engineering the Past and the Future
Loughborough University, Loughborough
The Roman god Janus is often depicted with two faces: one looking to the past; the other looking to the future. The Janus Project: Engineering the Past and the Future is a new outreach initiative from Loughborough University that aims to engage local students with engineering by encouraging them to examine the recent history of the sector and consider how it will shape the future. Through a series of thought-provoking activities, Key stage 4 and 5 students will engage with academic and industry engineers to discover a range of engineering disciplines and understand their real-world applications.
The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone.
In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public.
Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.
Helena Sutcliffe at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: +44 207 7660 767