The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced 23 new Ingenious awards for public engagement projects designed to inspire the next generation of engineers. The funded projects will engage communities across the UK on a variety of topics, including climate change, sport, cultural heritage, and increasing diversity and inclusion in engineering.
The Ingenious programme started in 2007. Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, it offers grants of up to £30,000 to support creative public engagement with engineering projects while providing engineers with the communication and presentation skills to share their stories, passion, and expertise with the public.
Many of this year’s projects focus on heritage sites, sustainability and climate change, including some that coincide with upcoming cultural events:
St Paul's Cathedral: Building the Dastardly Triple Dome will explore the construction of the triple dome of St Paul's Cathedral, one of Sir Christopher Wren's most complex and awe-inspiring designs. Students will build and decorate their own miniature dome to coincide with the Wren 300 festival in 2023, celebrating Sir Christopher Wren’s legacy.
Sports Shoes - A Feat of Engineering will introduce children aged 9-10 in Manchester to sports engineering and the design of sports shoes ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup tournaments.
The End of the World Immersive Adventure is a narrative-based escape room in Lewisham coinciding with its London Borough of Culture 2022 status and Climate Emergency focus. Participants will have to negotiate a series of physical engineering, software engineering, and maths puzzles escape the room and "save the world" from climate change disasters.
Smart Seas is a one-year project with children from 12 primary schools across Blackpool exploring the impacts of climate change and pollution in oceans. Pupils will design and build a physical device to collect data on ocean health from coastal waters with the help of engineers from the University of Central Lancashire.
Flying Futures is designed to engage schools and the public ahead of the launch of a Green Technology Hub in South Yorkshire. The project examines excellence in engineering through the lens of a heritage aircraft and explores the future of an environmentally sustainable aerospace industry.
Exploring heat loss and energy efficiency in community buildings will see volunteer engineers work with church groups to understand and apply basic thermal modelling principles to churches.
Ingenious Panel Chair Professor Lucy Rogers FREng said: “The ‘E’ in STEM is often silent – and currently many engineering stories from across the UK are not being told. The Ingenious programme provides engineers with opportunities to further develop their communication skills, enabling them to illustrate their work and inspire the public in new, creative ways.
“Engineering can mean different things to different people. These Ingenious projects can broaden perceptions of engineering to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to engage with the profession and access future-shaping careers.”
The Play House, Birmingham
Daughters of Invention: Makerspace is an exciting partnership between The Play House, and the University of Birmingham's School of Engineering. The project will develop student engineers’ confidence and public engagement skills whilst increasing primary school children’s engagement in and understanding of engineering. The project will deliver immersive drama engineering workshops in a fictional makerspace, where children and parents will solve engineering challenges and hear from a diverse group of engineers. At the end of the project, the children and their parents will undertake a treasure hunt with engineers through the campus engineering laboratories. The children, parents, and teachers will co-produce the project, embedding the core message that engineering is for everyone in their community.
Children’s Radio UK, across the UK
Engineering Academy is a multi-media project that will introduce and inspire children to explore and discover the opportunities that engineering offers everyone, irrespective of their backgrounds. Through a series of 26 weekly radio programmes, broadcast on national radio station Fun Kids and available as podcasts, children will hear engineers talk about what they do and what inspired them to become engineers. These audio programmes will help children learn informally whenever and however they want. Inspiring and fun resources will be available for children to download and complete to progress through the Academy, and host ‘Academy Live’ events across the UK. ‘Engineering Academy’ will help young engineers to learn and practise skills to become better communicators and public engagers.
National Aquaculture Centre, across the UK
In Engineering a Sustainable Food Solution, the National Aquaculture Centre (NAC), will develop a sustainable food production system, in partnership with the University of Leeds, Blackrow Ltd, Technical Ltd, and Aceleronenergy Ltd.
The AquaTrainer unit will then be showcased at the Humberston Eco Conservation Centre to provide educational and visitor workshops, with educational partnerships with the University of Leeds and other stakeholder organisations to engage with a broader regional cohort of young people.
Additional outcomes of the project include a functioning low carbon food production system for the Centre, CPD for engineers, and technical training programmes for young people on renewable energy systems and low carbon food production.
Cambridge Science Centre, East of England
Engineering our Tomorrows aims to boost children’s curiosity about the diverse nature and impact of engineering in resolving complex challenges.
The project will create exciting engineering-based outreach and resources for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students in schools and communities throughout the East of England. The students can enjoy a new interactive show, hands-on activities, and classroom kit boxes to continue engagement in the future. The resources will draw on the experience and knowledge of Future Infrastructure and Built Environment engineers and Cambridge Science Centre to inspire children to discover future infrastructure solutions.
University of Dundee, Dundee
Engineering the curriculum: inspiring the next generation of engineers aims to help change perceptions of engineering. Engineering is key to ensuring economic growth and improving quality of life. Despite the projected rise in demand for engineering talent, there is a shortage of people wanting to undertake engineering courses. Reasons for this include low confidence of schoolteachers in teaching engineering-related topics, misconceptions around the role and relevance of engineers to society and the absence of an enabling environment for pupils.
The University of Dundee and the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers Scotland will address these issues by building diverse teams consisting of engineering professionals, students, and schoolteachers in Dundee. Teams will undertake training in public engagement before developing a range of practical engineering activities, framed around curriculum requirements. The activities developed will form part of a STEM library which local schools will be able to borrow to showcase engineering. Teams will engage with children during the delivery of activities in schools and participate in a public celebration day, promoting engineering role models in the community.
Surefoot CIC, Scotland
Exploring heat loss and energy efficiency in community buildings will see volunteer engineers work with churches and other community groups to help them understand the basic principles behind thermal modelling and apply them to their own spaces. Under the engineers’ guidance, each group will complete four two-hour exercises in their buildings over a year. They will explore how heating systems work, heat loss, thermal comfort, and possible future changes to their buildings in the drive to Net Zero, including the “people” side of enabling change. The groups will then plan and hold a community consultation showcasing their learning. This project will change the futures of some important buildings and create a culture in which communities remember to seek out and value the engineers who live among them.
ech2o, across the UK
Flamingo Engineering will engage a group of engineers, engineering students, and local young adults who will receive training and then co-deliver a workshop with ech2o. Through these workshops, the pupils will gain an understanding about what engineers do. With an entertaining and educational story, the workshop will reach teachers, teaching assistants, and through the pupils, families in the home, spreading the possibility and accessibility of an engineering career to a broad audience. The pupils will engage in a hands-on engineering activity and use the 'Think it, Build it, Test it!' model to encourage them to view engineering as an interesting path, open to all. ech2o’s programme will continue through an engineering club to run over six weeks after the initial workshop is completed. All activities from both the workshop and engineering club will be freely downloadable, offering a lasting legacy of the project.
University of Sheffield, Yorkshire & the Humber
Flying Futures is designed to engage schools and the public ahead of the launch of a Green Technology Hub in South Yorkshire. This project looks at excellence in engineering through the lens of the Vulcan, a delta-winged heritage aircraft and explores the future of an environmentally sustainable aerospace industry.
The project will engage with local communities across South Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and the Humber. Flying Futures will be an interactive workshop roadshow that will support relationship-building between local schools, the public, the University of Sheffield, STEM education providers, local aerospace research and development organisations and engineers.
University of Salford, Salford
HandBuild/HandAssess will harness public curiosity surrounding upper-limb prosthetics to develop a public engagement toolkit. A training programme will be developed to equip PhD students and experienced researchers with the skills to communicate their research to young audiences. The engineers involved will gain the confidence to engage with the public before developing materials based on their research. The project will deliver a two-day campus visit where pupils take part in the HandBuild and Hand Assess packages, explore the routes into a career in medical engineering, and recognise how engineers work closely alongside healthcare professionals and patients to ensure positive outcomes.
W5 Science & Discovery Centre, Belfast
Maritime Engineering of the Future will combine engineers from Artemis Technologies and the Belfast Maritime Consortium with W5’s learning and engagement team to work with young people from schools and youth groups in a series of workshops and hands-on building sessions. The young maritime recruits will discover the importance of ship-building within the history of Belfast and Northern Ireland, the importance of global shipping today and its environmental impact. The programme will develop the public engagement skills of participating engineers, showcase engineering within the maritime sector, and provide an exciting and fun series of activities for all participants. This will culminate in the inaugural ‘Ingenious Cardboard Regatta’, with engineering activities and opportunities for families and the public to engage with maritime experts.
Minecraft Street Builders aims to encourage highway engineers to engage with the diverse communities they design for and to raise awareness among young people about highway engineering. Sustrans and BlockBuilders will upskill 15-20 highway engineers from three London boroughs in designing collaboratively for diversity and using Minecraft for engagement.
The engineers will then deliver interactive workshops for 180 students from three secondary schools, who will consider the needs of different users and design their dream local streets using Minecraft. The students will have the opportunity to showcase their ideas to the school community and feed into live projects being delivered by the borough engineers.
University of Manchester, Manchester
The Minesweeper Manchester competition will see teams of school students aged between 14-16 years old from across the North West region compete. The students will be tasked with building their own minesweeper robot featuring an integrated metal detector. Each team will be paired with two engineering undergraduates from the University of Manchester who will act as mentors to the students.
The competition will involve the teams designing and developing their robots over a few weeks with guidance and mentoring, before exhibiting their robots to complete challenges in front of an expert panel.
Prospering Peckham places young people at the heart of the long-term strategy to reach Southwark’s climate change commitments by cutting emissions and developing green jobs.
It will run an 8-week programme and competition that connects engineers with 60 ambitious students aged 13-15 at Harris Academy Peckham, situated on London’s 9th-most polluted road, to develop engineering-based solutions to mitigate local pollution issues.
The project involves a series of fun activities, fireside chats, workshops, and mentoring led by inspirational young professionals. The students will increase their awareness of how engineers can solve these climate change and pollution issues and will build a campaign to advocate for how their green solutions can benefit their communities.
University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth
Puppets as Enzyme Engineers of the Imagination will train engineers to use puppetry to engage young people in Portsmouth and Bognor Regis in bioengineering projects and encourage them to pursue engineering careers. The Centre for Enzyme Innovation focuses on developing biotechnological solutions as a low carbon solution for recycling plastic waste in a circular economy. The aim is to inspire young people by promoting the role of engineering, interpreted and discussed through co-design puppetry workshops between engineers from the University of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Young Carers Centre with The Makers Guild, Making Theatre and local secondary schools students. A showcase event at Portsmouth Guildhall and online performances will be used to engage the regional, national and international public with the event.
EDT Engineering Development Trust, across the UK
SEND STEM will deliver a careers-themed STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) suite of activities for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The project’s long-term goal is to provide SEND-specialised STEM careers guidance, to ensure that SEND pupils have access to the tailored support they need to pursue equal opportunities in STEM.
Engineers will work with teams of students on three-day STEM activities and share their engineering journeys. The project will also signpost next steps such as apprenticeships open to young people in their local area and engaging potential employers.
University of Central Lancashire, Blackpool
Smart Seas is a one-year project with primary school children from 12 schools across Blackpool exploring the impacts of climate change and pollution in oceans. Pupils will design and build a physical device to collect data on ocean health from coastal waters with the help of engineers from the University of Central Lancashire. In a series of 12 interactive after-school sessions, the pupils will engage with guest engineers and be invited to the University to explore a cross-section of engineering including mathematics, materials, coding, robotics, and motor engineering.
Space Engineers is an exciting new project led by Spacefund, bringing a team of 30 volunteer Engineers and 400 Girlguides on a STEM-themed space mission to the Moon. The project will provide the girls with an opportunity to use their problem-solving and engineering skills within a Lunar Base - a series of domes and tunnels that simulate an immersive ‘escape room' style experience. The mentor engineers will help develop the engineering challenges, support the girls through their Girlguiding Space Engineers badge, and participate with them to succeed in their space mission. Space Engineers will light the fire of inspiration for the next generation of women in engineering.
Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester
Sports Shoes - A Feat of Engineering will promote an inclusive economy by engaging primary school children from underrepresented groups in Manchester through sport. The project will introduce children aged 9-10 to the design of sports shoes, through discussions, hands-on activities, and testing. Leveraging the success of EURO 2020 and Tokyo 2020, and ahead of the Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup in 2022, this project will showcase sports engineering.
Working as an engineering team in their schools, children will design a sports shoe midsole under the guidance of engineering ambassadors, learning about the latest trends in environmental design and bringing their designs to life with 3D printing. Engineers new to public engagement will become champions of engineering and act as role models for children and teachers, demonstrating the exciting ways that engineering underpins society, from the latest breakthrough technology to the shoes on their feet.
Diocese of London, London
St Paul's Cathedral: Building the Dastardly Triple Dome will run a one-day workshop for trainee engineers and secondary school pupils from underrepresented backgrounds. The project will explore the construction of the triple dome of St Paul's Cathedral, as one of Sir Christopher Wren's most complex and awe-inspiring designs.
Students will build and decorate a miniature dome in spring 2023 as part of the Wren 300 festival in the church of Holy Sepulchre, The National Musicians’ Church Holborn, the largest Parish Church in inner London. The project will be led by Professor Chris Wise RDI FREng, Senior Director of Expedition Engineering, together with engineers, engineering trainees, and alumni from The Stephen Lawrence Trust (now Blueprint for All) and Brunel University with Catherine Ramsden, architect and Founder Director of the Really Useful Company.
Liberty Arts Yorkshire, Yorkshire
STEM Theatre in a Box aims to provide resources and workshops for young children in EYFS and KS1. Using storytelling, theatre, and practical science, the project aims to give children aged 5-7 years the opportunity and resources to build Science Capital and an understanding of how science and engineering are relevant to them using through real-life issues.
The project will focus on resources, workshops, and performances for schools and communities in underserved areas. The workshops will tell the stories of engineers and their work through interwoven dance, movement, puppetry, and science and engineering experiments and activities. The project will train engineers from sustainability-related disciplines to present their work and communicate with young children and families.
STEMAZING Kids CIC, across the UK
The STEMAZING Inspiration Academy is a project that supports and empowers women in STEM to be more confident visible role models and inspire our future engineers.
Research shows that there are huge benefits in giving both young boys and young girls female STEM role models which will help build a more diverse and inclusive future STEM workforce.
This programme is designed for women in engineering and builds their confidence on camera, culminating in them delivering a series of six hands-on and interactive STEMAZINGKids sessions that champion diversity and inclusion in STEM to 7-9 year olds via Zoom in the classroom. This remote delivery will allow more schools in underserved areas from across the UK to take part and engage with women in STEM.
University of Greenwich, London
The End of the World Immersive Adventure is a narrative-based Escape Room for young people and families to be designed and delivered by a group of engineers and engineering students. Using co-design principles and working with stakeholders, they will develop and build physical engineering, software engineering, and maths puzzles that must be negotiated to successfully escape the room and "save the world" from climate change disasters.
Based in Lewisham, the launch will coincide with London Borough of Culture 2022 and its Climate Emergency focus. The project will be developed into a sustainable social enterprise, providing an engineering engagement legacy designed to reach underserved communities.
University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), West of England
We Make Our Future is an interactive and educational planetarium show for the next generation of Digital Engineers. Explorer Dome and the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol have created a new experience to celebrate the ingenuity of human engineering. Full-dome digital projections will allow visitors to view engineering marvels from history and explore the pros and cons of modern life. The planetarium show was previewed to the public at the COP26 Planetarium in November 2021. This project will enhance the legacy of the show by reaching diverse young people from across the West of England with a schools’ tour. Experienced presenters from Explorer Dome will train regional engineers in presentation skills to inspire young people. Films of sustainability engineers at their workplaces will showcase how the engineering design process can address the Climate and Ecological Emergency. The presenter-led planetarium experience will be delivered inside the immersive Explorer Dome in schools or remotely via Zoom.
1. Ingenious is an awards scheme, run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering. The scheme is supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The Ingenious programme aims to:
Ingenious has funded over 250 projects to date, providing opportunities for close to 7,000 engineers to take part in public engagement activities, to gain skills in communication and to help bring engineering to the very centre of society. Ingenious projects have reached over 3.2 million members of the public.
2. 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.
For media enquiries please contact: Chris Urquhart at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 207 766 0725; email: Chris.Urquhart@raeng.org.uk