I’m an Engineer will be running two zones funded by STFC from 17th – 28th June. With just 7 weeks to go until the event, let us know as soon as possible if you’d like to take part. The zones are:
We need ever more sensitive ways of detecting stuff. The engineers could be designing giant detector systems, creating cameras or trouble shooting telescopes.
The engineers could be building high performance computers, using them to run climate change simulations or solving complex fluid dynamic problems with their help.
Engineers with links to STFC who’d like to take part should head here to apply: imanengineer.org.uk/engineer-registration
Teachers need to register here: imanengineer.org.uk/teachers
Let us know by Monday 6th May!
As we finish one event it’s a real pleasure to announce another nine, thanks to the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
This is brilliant news. Especially for I’m an Engineer, where it allows us to guarantee at least 3 zones per year. And that’s just the start. We’re looking for other organisations that might fund zones to allow engineers without an STFC connection to take part too.
The first zone will run from the 17th to 28th June 2013 and we’ll be announcing the theme in a couple of weeks time.
Thank you to everyone who tweeted support for the projects. We were overwhelmed with all the messages popping up on our presentation screen!
Teachers should register here to take part, or check your email if you’re already signed up.
Our self-funded March event went superbly. Nearly 400 students took part. Have a quick read through the daily updates below for a flavour of the event and the Zone Report gives more depth.
You can see the feedback that shows just how much the students and engineers get out of the event.
As student ‘jessica123′ said about the 5 engineers “thank you sooo much for your time I have learnt a lot your are very nice people”
Day 1 – Football, Grand Designs and the Olympics
Day 2 – 3D printing, heat pumps and bridges
Day 3 – Helicopters, straw huts and coal mines
Day 4 – Sustainability in sport, Saudi Arabian cities and bamboo houses
Day 5 – Global warming, Scottish independence and rocket science
Day 6 – Carrot-powered cars, model rockets and transparent soil
Day 7 – First eviction!
Day 8 – Robots, red matter and petrol-powered houses
Day 9 – Engineers get competitive
Day 10 – Winner revealed
And for fun, here’s a Wordle of all the popular words in the 21 live chats in the zone.
It’s not just the engineers who have a chance to win in I’m an Engineer – we also pick a student winner for great questions and engagement during the event.
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Congratulations to the Environment Zone student winner: putpolv01, from Putney High School, for engaging really well and asking some great questions during a chat at the start of the event (in fact it was a pretty great chat all round, so well done to the class!).
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We received so many good questions that it was difficult to pick just one student – thanks to everyone who took part, we hope you enjoyed it!
And the winner of I’m an Engineer March 2013 is… NICOLA!
We’ve had two great weeks – hope you’ve all enjoyed it! Well done to our 4 runners up, Ed, Keith, Tish and Rachel, who’ve also done a great job at answering your questions.
2 weeks, 5 engineers, nearly 400 students, 21 live chats, 160 questions and we’ve learnt loads about engineering and the environment – looking forward to the next event!
We’re coming to the end of I’m an Engineer March 2013, and we’ve just lost KEITH from the competition. With just one day to go there are only two engineers – Ed and Nicola – left in the running.
Did you know…
- Nicola’s representing girls in engineering:
wheele10 : how does it feel to be the only girl left
nicolalazenby : I’m a bit sad I’m the only girl left….fingers crossed I can win to show that girls can be awesome engineers, and are just as good (if not better!!) than the boys
jsutherst : ooh – love your answer to wheele10 Nicola. This class only has 4 girls and 20 boys (and a female teacher). Really wish more girls would take the engineering course
nicolalazenby : being a girl in engineering is amazing – it’s a really cool job!!
- …And saving the planet while she’s at it:
jamie14 : do you think the thing that you are working on will save the planet
nicolalazenby : yep! If we can use the energy stored in the ground to heat our homes, it will save a lot of carbon dioxide and help stop global warming!!!
Q&As in Ask
- How long do you have to be an engineer to be considered a master in your field?
- What sport uses the most physics or maths?
- Who invented the toilet seat?
That’s 3 engineers down, 1 to go – will it be Ed or Nicola to win?
It’s going to be a close one so keep voting!
Another day, another engineer out, we’re sorry to say goodbye to TISH, the second engineer to leave the competition.
Did you know…
- Not all helicopters can loop the loop:
mitchellwallington : can helicopters do a loop the loop?
edwardtaylor : yes helicopters can do the loop the loop, but only a few of them, not all. The Gazelle is a British army helicopter which is renowned for doing loops!
- Waste can be turned into energy:
7325dan : how do you turn waste in to energy
keithbeattie : you can incinerate (burn) waste and use the heat to generate steam that can be used to power a generator. Or in a process called anaerobic digestion, compostable type waste ( food or plant material) is rotted down, producing methane gas (bio gas) as a byproduct and this can be used to power a boiler
- It’s probably best Ed doesn’t tell his boss about taking part in I’m an Engineer:
landrosa : do you design confidential machinary for the govenrment
edwardtaylor : yeh all of the work I do is confidential, which means Im not allowed to take it home and Im not really supposed to tell people about it. Hopefully they wont mind me doing this though! (ooops!)
Recently you’ve asked…
- Can you run a house on petrol?
- What’s your favourite engineering term?
- Have you ever worked with red matter?
- Do you think robots will take over the world?
- Do you believe the placebo effect could influence belief towards religion?
Head here for more.
That’s 2 engineers down, 2 to go – hope you’re voting!
Today we say goodbye to our first engineer – I’m sorry to say that RACHEL is now out of the competition (though we hope they’ll still join us for chats and answer some more questions in Ask!).
Did you know…
- Triangles are stronger than squares:
cmcgrath : Why are triangular shapes so stable?
nicolalazenby : Triangles are so strong because the way they react to forces, a square for example can just get pushed over as when you push the top corner there is nothing to stop the frame from moving. a triangle however, if you push the point at the top, the side of the frame will pull it back whilst the other side of the frame will push it back….. I hope that makes sense!!
Things you’re asking
- what is the difference between transparent soil or normail soil?
- Do you feel teachers should help you follow your dreams instead of ‘stearing you in the right direction’. My tutor crushed my dreams of being an atronaut
- How many model rockets would it take to launch a real rocket into space?
- Is there enough energy in the world to move all humans from earth to out of orbit?
More questions and answers here.
One engineer down, 3 to go – make sure you vote to save your favourite!
Week 2 and the first eviction is tomorrow so now really is your last chance to get your votes in! Today’s environment chat included questions on carrot-powered cars and renewable energy.
Did you know…
- Cars can (probably, indirectly) be run on carrots:
mitchellwallington : Do you think that you can make a car run on carrots?
natashawatson : cars running on carrots? they could probably; if you fermented the carrots you’d get alcohol and you can run a car on that.
- We’re already making use of energy from the core of the Earth:
landrosa : do you think we will ever be able to reach the earths core and harness its energy? if so would it count as a renewable source of energy?
nicolalazenby : We already use the earths core’s heat through Geothermal energy! You dig a big hole into the ground and pump water down it, this water then gets heated to steam which rises and turns turbines!
More questions asked and answered
From teachers crushing dreams to rockets launching into space, see what the engineers had to say:
- What is the difference between transparent soil and normal soil?
- Do you feel teachers should help you follow your dreams?
- How many model rockets would it take to launch a real rocket into space?
- Is there enough energy in the world to move all humans from earth to out of orbit?
More questions and answers here.
First eviction tomorrow, so keep the questions coming and get your votes in!
So it’s Friday and that means we’re half way through I’m an Engineer March 2013! Get ready for the evictions next week, starting at 3pm on Tuesday – don’t forget to vote to keep your favourite in the competition.
Did you know…
- Nicola thinks dealing with global warming is all about energy use:
jerry2k8 : Nicola, What is your view on global warming and how it should be dealt with?
nicolalazenby : Global Warming is happened – that’s a fact! (Why else would we have snow in the spring!) I think dealing with it should be about getting people to use less energy and finding renewable sources for the energy we do use!
- And Keith believes young people should learn how to monitor how much energy they use:
annamac : Why do you think it is important to teach children about energy monitoring equipment?
keithbeattie : energy is invisible, by metering you can start to understand how, when and why we use so much. Its important as we will need to modify all our behaviours – and young poeple can help educate us old ones
- Ed thinks it’s important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions too:
edwardtaylor : @sophiegallagher – yes unfortunately all planes release gasses that are bad for the environment. This is something all aerospace engineers are working on, we still need to keep flying but we need to work out a way of damaging the environment less!
The engineers answer your questions
Once again we’ve picked out a few interesting Q&As for you to check out:
- Why is the helicopter called a Chinook?
- What are your views on rocket science?
- Do you think Scotland should go independent?
- What’s the difference between being a bartender and an aerospace engineer?
And there are loads more to explore in the Environment Zone Ask section.
Remember to get your votes in as engineers will be evicted next week!
This week’s flying by and it’s been a busy day for Environment Zone chats. So what can we share with you?
Did you know…
- The reason humans don’t have wings:
vanessasugar : why do animals have wings and but humans dont?
edwardtaylor : people can fly! with the help of a few wings and engines. Without them we can also fly, but only downward. I think a good reason we never evolved to have wings is because we are too big! the albatross is the biggest bird in the sky and it can only just fly, natural things bigger than that would be too big and wouldnt be able to fly.
- The London Olympics were more sustainable than the Beijing Olympics:
putplan02 : how did the london olympics compare to other cities in terms of sustainability?
nicolalazenby : i did a project on this last year!!! London was amazing – they were so much more sustainable! China were a bit hopeless at being sustainable….. most of their venues aren’t being used and have got all run down instead of being used by the community. A waste of materials!!
- Tish is working on a Saudi Arabian city:
ayc883 : what is the most modernised style of building you have created?
natashawatson : I’m working on a massive cty masterplan in saudi arabia, they want me to look at the materials they’re gonna use! scary :S
Your questions answered
The engineers have answered nearly all of your questions so far, here are a few good ones:
- Wouldn’t getting natural materials for houses mean chopping down some animals’ natural environments?
- How would you create a long term military aircraft which is durable through all weathers?
- How expensive is it to build a house out of bamboo?
Find lots more by clicking ‘Ask’ in the Environment Zone.
…Why not give them a challenge and post some more really tough ones?
Two more live chats in the environment zone today and we’ve had lots more great questions on everything from career paths to hobbies, helicopters to straw huts!
Did you know…
- Ed stops helicopter controls melting:
putpsim02 : how do you proof helicopter controls from extreme heat?
edwardtaylor : good question! What we do during design is make sure we use materials that wont expand or contract too much due to the heat (and that definitely wont melt!). More complex electronics have cooling systems which pass cool air over the top of the electrical stuff to cool it down, and equipment that gets really really hot is cooled using water cooling systems!
By 2050 Tish wants everyone to know about building using natural materials:
putptay09 : if you had your way hat year would you want all buildings to be made of a material other than bricks
natashawatson : hmmm a toughie… sometimes we need to build out of steel and concrete and bricks, say, if we wanted a really tall building, or a really wide bulding with no supports, but we don’t need to be building as much as we do build with concrete, steel, bricks, etc. so I hope that by 2050 everyone will be aware that they can build awesome houses and schools out of timber and other things like straw, hemplime. that way, we can make decisions based on knowing exactly what’s out there that we
- Scenic underwater railway trips are, unfortunately, unlikely:
regaal10 : do you think there will ever be a see through underwater railway and why ????
rachelharris : Underwater railway sounds like an interesting idea I think there be an issue with pressure though in terms of how well that capsule would have to be made easier to travel on the surface
Over 100 questions asked outside of the live chats
All 5 engineers have been busy working through your questions, here are some of their responses…
- Is living in straw huts a good option for the future?
- Why is there water in a coal mine?
- Would you ever all find a use to work on the same project?
And if you want more interesting engineering questions and answers, head here.
Keep posting your questions and get your votes in!
Another environment chat today, so what did we discover?
Did you know…
- Engineers make models using 3D printers:
jakemason1 : how often do you use 3d printing
edwardtaylor : We use 3D printing at work sometimes to create a respresentation of an engineering system. For example the other day we used a 3D printer to make a little model of a ship radar to show a customer! It looks really realistic and doesnt take long at all to make
- Ground source heat pumps are a bit like fridges:
michaelheston2 : how does your technology work?
nicolalazenby : Like your fridge takes the heat out of food and kicks it out the back of it (check out the back of your fridge when you get home!) a ground source heat pump works by taking the heat out of the ground and putting it into your house
Close to 100 questions approved in Ask
Here’s a little taster…
- How do you build bridges?
- If you have a contained tanker with harrier jumpjets in the cargo. When they hover, does the tanker get lighter? What about if the roof is missing?
- How did you insulate and waterproof your cardboard building?
Find lots more here.
If you’ve got a question for our engineers, make sure you post it – and get voting!
Today we had our first 3 I’m an Engineer live chats in the Environment Zone, and students were keen to ask the engineers lots of questions about what they do, both at work and in their spare time. From Olympic venues to engineering-related TV and work trips abroad, our engineers managed to keep up with the fast moving conversations.
Did you know…
- Engineers can be pretty useful for sports:
ginger : would your work have anything to do with under pitch heating. I support liverpool
nicolalazenby : Yes!! my research can be applied to pitch heating! you can put ground source heat pumps under a football ground carpark and then use it to defrost the pitch when it’s frozen!
- A career in engineering can include some interesting trips abroad:
putpmar24 : what do you enjoy the most about your job?
keithbeattie : I also get to travel to our other sites – last month I was in Egypt and Australia
- And we found out what Nicola likes to watch on TV:
iggybrows : What are your favourite television shows? Are they linked in any way to engineering?
nicolalazenby : Grand Designs!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 or anything with Kevin McCloud in!! I also enjoy “how stuffs made”
Nearly 50 questions answered in Ask
Here’s a little taster…
What do you think is going to become the biggest challenge for engineers in the future?
Did you attend the Olympics this year and if so what did you think of the stadium?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an engineer?
How long would it take to fly to Mars?
Find the rest here.
Keep up asking great questions – and don’t forget to start voting for your favourites!
First live chats next week!
The fun starts on Monday when the first live chats will take place, but there are already lots of questions queued up for the engineers to answer in ‘Ask’. We’re looking forward to hearing more of the students’ questions – let’s just hope the engineers are ready to answer them!
- Aerospace engineer Ed has uploaded lots of helicopter pictures, and if he won the money he’d spend it on 3D printing lessons
- What do you get if you cross a chicken with a cement mixer? A brick layer! says Geordie engineer Nicola
- And Tish from the Environment Zone wants to make bamboo buildings at science festivals
Don’t forget to take a look at the other engineers’ profiles here.
Chats booked and ready to go
Live chat bookings have been coming in thick and fast – it’s definitely going to be a packed two weeks! Look forward to seeing you all there!
I’m an Engineer event is just around the corner, so it’s time to announce the engineers and schools taking part.
The event will be running from 11th-22nd March, which will be running alongside the March I’m a Scientist event.
There are 11 schools involved, lots of whom took part in the first ever I’m an Engineer event last March. Teachers last March found it opened their students’ eyes to what engineering really is, and in some cases the possibility of studying engineering.
“The biggest plus for me was one of my pupils coming up to me three days later and saying ‘I’m going through my options sheet at the moment and I’m interested in engineering’ and you think ‘we’ve won one!’”
Choosing the 5 engineers to take part wasn’t easy as there were lots whose work considers the environment – it’s a big part of engineering! Last March the engineers thought they improved their communication skills, felt they’d given students an insight into the real face of engineering, and wanted to do more public engagement after taking part.
“Actually, it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done with schoolkids”
Rachel Harris The Coal Authority Cleaning up water that comes from old mining Nicola Lazenby University of Sheffield I’m researching how a structures foundation can be used to produce renewable heat and energy from the ground!! Natasha Watson Buro Happold I am looking to increase the use of low impact building materials (such as straw, unfired brick) in construction to improve the sustainability of buildings Keith Beattie Global Pharmaceutical Research Company I am working on improving energy efficiency in laboratories and reducing the amount of waste and water used in research processes. Edward Taylor Thales Group I make sure that the pilot’s controls on military helicopters and jets can work in all environments, from sandy deserts to snowy mountains, even through lightning storms!
Chipping Norton School, Chipping Norton
Sacred Heart High School, London
Putney High School, Putney
All Saints’ Academy, Cheltenham
Streatham and Clapham High School, London
King James’s School, Knaresborough
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College, Widnes
Auchinleck Academy, Cumnock
Newcastle-under-Lyme College, Newcastle-under-Lyme
St Benedict’s School, London
Stockley Academy, Yiewsley
Just before Christmas we announced we’re going to run I’m an Engineer again this March. We’ve chosen a zone and are now looking for public engagement minded engineers to take part in the..
Almost every engineering project needs to consider the environment it is operating in. If that is your job then we want you to apply to take part. You could be a structural engineer who designs earthquake proof buildings; or a mining engineer figuring out how to minimise the impact of spoil; maybe you helped design the London Array. It’s a pretty broad theme.
How to apply
Engineers apply at imanengineer.org.uk/engineer-registration by Monday 4th February.
Why take part?
If you get any joy from explaining the world, or think you might have some aptitude for it, then don’t hesitate to apply! For the sake of a couple of weeks with a little extra work-load, the experience is an amazing one!
To find out more about why you should take part, have a look at the summary of the evaluation of the frst I’m an Engineer last March – imanengineer.org.uk/2012/11/evaluating-im-a-engineer
As one engineer, Martin Wallace, said
“this has been the most rewarding outreach event I have been part of and would thoroughly recommend it to both engineers and teachers – it was a great pleasure to be part of it”
We really enjoyed running I’m an Engineer in March and we want to do it again.
So we will.
From 11th to 22nd March 2013 we will get 5 engineers competing for the votes of secondary school students.
We still need to decide the zone theme. Teachers, let us know what appeals to you. We’re also looking for someone to support the event, and a funding partner will help determine the theme. If you are interested please get in contact.
In March 2012 we ran I’m an Engineer for the first time. We’ve had engineers take part in the sister I’m a Scientist event so running a version specifically for engineers was an obvious move.
Before the event started we had some unknowns, despite considering ourselves well versed in running online engagement events. Would engineers want to take part? Would we be able to recruit Maths and D&T teachers? What questions would students ask?
When it came to evaluation time these were some of the key questions to answer. We’ve collected feedback from teachers, students and engineers. We’ve used their responses and data from the site to evaluate the event, and have written up our findings in the report below.
Here’s a summary of what we found:
Did engineers want to take part?
Yes. By the end of the first three months we had over 165 engineers apply for the 30 places. The mix was good too. 34% were female, 50% said they had been working for just 10 years or less, and 2/3rds worked in industry. The last figure differentiates them from our scientists of whom 2/3rds work in academia – see page 18 for more details.
Could we recruit Maths and D&T teachers?
Recruiting Maths and D&T teachers wasn’t so easy. We worked with DATA and NCETM. We had a good response from Maths teachers, but D&T teachers were more difficult to reach – see page 25.
What questions did students ask?
In I’m an Engineer we found that students were more interested in engineering as a job than as a discipline – see page 11. Over 50% of questions were about careers and workdays. 22% were specifically about some kind of engineering, often about the zone theme or the engineers’ work. Other popular questions were more personal ones. Students can’t define what engineering is in the same way that they can understand science in the school environment, so a lot more questions asked what engineering actually is and what engineers do.
Did the engineers enjoy it?
Yes. All the engineers that filled in the feedback survey would take part again and recommend it to their colleagues – see page 21. Engineers have their outlook on life changed. Lt Emma Bould from the Royal Navy was forced to confront the no-holds-barred reality that students view a warship more as an aggressive than defensive tool. “How many people have you killed?”. Matt Maddock realised that his pre-event fears of taking part were groundless and exhorted his fellow engineers to do more explaining about the world through public engagement.
Did the students benefit?
Yes. 87% of students that registered on the site actively participated by asking a question, taking part in a live chat, leaving a comment or voting. This is similar to I’m a Scientist, but still impresses us every time. Teachers found their students are now more aware of how Maths, D&T and Science studies relate to the real world. 94% of students who gave us feedback said they learnt new things about engineering – see page 27.
Did we meet our objectives?
We met two of our objectives, and the third was set too high initially as we hadn’t yet properly analysed data from I’m a Scientist as a benchmark to compare I’m an Engineer to.
Did I’m a Engineer work?
Yes. Engineers emerge from the two weeks in a state of exhilaration, energised by the questions and chats. Students are buzzing at the realisation that they can ask whatever they like and get an answer from a real person, from someone who isn’t a teacher.
Now it’s time to start chapter 2 and make the event sustainable and give hundreds more engineers and thousands more students the chance to get talking.
A thought as I leave: there’s more difference between PR and PE than between science and engineering #eword
— Steve Cross (@steve_x) October 25, 2012
The Royal Academy of Engineering hosted a day on October 25th about Engineering (the E word) Engagement. It was a very interesting day which left me with many challenges and thoughts. Just what you want from a seminar.
The programme for the day consisted of two panel sessions in the morning, followed by an open session. After that we were treated to a series of 5 minutes briefings on past Ingenious projects and Mark Miodownik’s History of Engineering.
I’m going to focus on the first three sessions:
- Is engineering engagement different from science engagement?
- Where are all the engineers?
- Open session: How do we tell what good engagement is?
Is engineering engagement different from science engagement?
There was a lot of crossover between the first two panels. Mostly, I think, because the first panel chose to answer their question by focusing on the second. The panel consisted of Wendy Sadler, Steve Cross, Jane Magill and Richard Knight.
Key differences were highlighted as:
- the culture of performance
- the less leaky career pipeline of engineering
- schools don’t do engineering, only science
- whilst engineers had the better products to show they were not as good as scientists when “talking to muggles”
- engineers were the people sitting at the back of the room with their arms folded muttering “why does no-one know what we do?”
Real engagement was described as what happens minutely on a project by project basis as opposed to the big budget TV shows or media stunts. Steve Cross also summed up the reasons why UCL scientists and engineers do engagement as:
- they enjoy it
- they feel morally obliged to do so because they are publicly funded
- there are strong academic reasons as engagement improves their research
- there are strong business reasons as engagement can help them get future funding
I was surprised that no-one mentioned that scientists are as likely to talk about the process of science as what they have discovered, whereas engineers are encouraged to speak about the shiny product they have produced.
But the biggest difference among the panel members was about what constitutes engagement and therefore what skills might be needed. Hence Steve’s astute (but not entirely accurate – see below) parting tweet at the top of this post.
There seemed to be some conflict about what people want from the term engineer. Many people thought engineers should have a high status and not be associated with skilled manual work such as car mechanics. However just as many wanted to broaden the scope of who we would call an engineer.
The issue of engineering in schools has been raised many times before and it certainly doesn’t make things easy when trying to reach school students about engineering. But is it really the big problem? I can’t find any evidence that they teach “engineering” as an academic subject in Germany for example.
Finally we were left with the idea that many engineers have “status anxiety”. It’s not something we felt when running I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here and not what corresponds with Steve’s experience at UCL. It was suggested that perhaps it is just that the engineering industry hasn’t spent the millions that science has on created a burgeoning science communication sector.
Where are all the engineers?
I had the pleasure of chairing the next session on “Where are all the engineers?” The four speakers were Prof. Sarah Spurgeon, Jeremy Greaves, Ben Johnson and Dr Helen Featherstone. We heard some more about the problems:
- women still not being recognised as engineers
- engineers not willing to take risks which are inevitable with engagement work
- graduates are not well prepared to do engagement work
- are we inviting engineers to the right engagement party?
- need to reclaim “boffin” as a positive term
I was surprised to hear the word boffin used. It’s been a long time since I heard it used to compliment someone, whereas for the last decade Geek has slowly been reclaimed to positively describe someone who is passionate about their subject.
The comment about graduates not being prepared is also worth further examination. Scientists who engage with the public are (or were) often PhD students. In recent years particularly the Doctoral Training Centres have spent considerable resources on providing training for PhD students. Both science and engineering students. But if we’re expecting industry engineers to engage when are they going to get the training opportunities.
You would expect that training to be laid on by their employers. It was suggested that the ‘usual suspects’, a few large engineering firms are getting it right. They are working with a bottom-up approach to encourage engineers to engage. We were still left with the consensus that not enough firms are doing enough.
The session was cut short by a late start and lunch, but I felt we were still some distance from articulating why engineers want to engage with the public. Some of the reasons mentioned were:
- ‘it’s fun to talk about the toys’ – engineers have pride in their products
- ‘it’s not enough to be brilliant, you need to help sell the product’
- speaking to school children can help recruit future engineers
What seemed to be mentioned less was that it is good for the engineers, not just the company they work for:
- it improves communication and people skills
- it’s enjoyable
- it helps you understand what you’re doing
How we can tell if engagement is effective?
The open session allowed us to follow our interests. Kate Bellingham initiated a discussion around how we can tell if engagement is effective. The simple answer is whether you met your objectives or not. But what are our objectives?
My background is in marketing. £billions gets spent on TV advertising every year. Getting your advert noticed is tough. Advertisers spend a lot of effort evaluating their efforts to engage with their markets. One advertising model that I used was based around:
Every ad concept was tested to see what awareness it created. Did people notice it? Did they remember it? Could they work out what it was about?
Was it persuasive? Did it tell you much? Did it make you feel positive towards the brand?
Finally we measured how many people would change their behaviour. Would they buy the product?
PR is part of public engagement
Whilst it is clear that we want our engagement to be effective it isn’t as simple as changing behaviour. We do need to create awareness about engineering, and to persuade people of its place in society. PR is part of public engagement. The one-to-many media work of PR has a role to play, as does the many-to-many nature of “real engagement” which is embedded into the process of engineering and science projects. We will be most effective if we use a variety of engagement methods.