I’m an Engineer, Get me out of Here! is an award-winning engineering enrichment and engagement activity, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It takes place online (so it’s accessible to everyone – you can take part from your desk!) over a two week period. It’s an X Factor-style competition for engineers, where students are the judges.
The event gets teenagers talking to real engineers, online, and learning about engineering. Students have fun, but also get beyond stereotypes, learn about the wide range of opportunities in engineering and how the wide range of opportunities in engineering relates to real life. The event bring engineering to life for students.
How does the event work?
What’s involved?: You interact online with young people (Year 9 – Year 13, i.e. 13-18 years old), answering their questions about engineering, research, and just about everything else. You also listen to students’ opinions on engineering and get them thinking about how engineer affects their daily lives.
.ASK you questions
.CHAT to you online about you, your research and engineering
.Then VOTE for the engineer they think deserves the prize
Time involved: The event itself lasts for two weeks, but before the event starts you should fill in your online profile so students can explore the engineers in their zone in the two weeks before the event. The time commitment depends on how busy your zone is, and how long you spend on your answers. Our best guess is volunteering about 2 hours a day speaking with your audience.
You need: A computer with an internet connection (and that’s all!)
We’ll consider anyone who can cast some light on engineering issues. If you think you have a perspective that could help teenagers think about engineering and society issues, then please apply.
Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ – you will be asked many questions which are not in your area, and it shows students that there’s no reason why engineers should know the answer to everything.
Benefits of taking part
- Taking part in I’m an Engineer develops your communication skills
- It can re-energise you about your own work, and get you thinking differently.
- You will make a difference. And you’ll be learning too. Teenagers ask all sorts of questions – from the cheeky to the thought-provoking. They fizz with energy and can be infectious company.
- Learn that young people are interested in your work and that they want to engage with engineers
- Discover that Public Engagement is enjoyable, worthwhile and useful to you as an engineer, and online engagement is as useful and enjoyable as offline methods.
Get your boss on board
We’d strongly advise telling your boss if you’re taking part in the event, and getting their support if you can. In I’m a Scientist several scientists have said that their boss knowing about the event and suporting them taking part made a big difference. Questions on the website can be answered during the evening, but live chats have to be during the school day. So if you want to take part in live chats, you will mainly be doing so during working hours.
Also, many scientists found themselves discussing some of the more intriguing questions with colleagues. This can be one of the most stimulating things about the event. Get your lab or office involved in the fun!
What have others said?
As one scientist told us after the pilot I’m a Scientist event, “It really made me think about what I do and why.” You can read more about what teachers, students and scientists thought about the event in our evaluation reports on the pilot or the event in 2010.
Dr Mark Fogg from York University wrote a moving blogpost about participating in the June 2010 event, which really conveys the impact that taking part can have on researchers.