Engineering in Action

This post first appeared here.

Last Monday the inaugural Engineering in Action enrichment day was held at the Emmanuel Centre in London. Hundreds of year twelve students from across the country came to hear from and ask questions of five brilliant engineers.

First up was Anna Plozajski, a materials engineer working at the prestigious Institute of Making. It was humbling to hear about Anna’s incredible career from building a rocket car to working at NASA.

Second on the Stage was Hugh Hunt, a vibrations engineer at The University of Cambridge. Hugh’s highly entertaining talk had a huge number of demos, confirming ideas about forces and couples.

After lunch students heard from Amy Wright, a civil engineer at Farrans Construction who worked on the recently completed £117million Northern Spire bridge. Amy began her session with ten students on the stage deciding where to hide in a zombie apocalypse. In the second half of Amy’s presentation she talked about the Northern Spire bridge and you couldn’t help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the project.

Next up Paul Hellier from University College London took to the stage. Paul is a chemical engineer who, with the help of some students, performed two experiments investigating how efficiently bio-fuels made from crops vs. those made from algae burn.

Finally, Sam Rogers from Gravity Industries described the Iron Man style human flight suit he helped develop. It was fascinating to see the way Sam used 3D printing techniques to create jet packs. Needless to say, there were an awful lot of questions for Sam after his talk.

Steve Cross compered the day brilliantly, ensuring we had lively Q&A sessions and supporting all of the engineers.

Most Education in Action enrichment days build on the curriculum of an academic subject like Biology in Action or Maths in Action so it was exciting to have the opportunity to do something a bit different with this new, vocational, Engineering in Action.

We had longer Q&A sessions than usual after every speaker. Engineers like Hugh Hunt spoke about getting into university to study engineering and others like Amy Wright talked about work placement schemes at large engineering firms.

One teacher told me that two of her students want to be civil engineers after Amy’s talk because now they know what it involves.

We’ll be back next year with another day of Engineering in Action!