Article - Issue 31, June 2007

TLRP – Support for Young Engineers; Engineering for all at the BA Festival; Thomas Telford 250

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TLRP – Support for Young Engineers

The Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) is the UK’s biggest ever initiative in education research. It is spending over £40 million between 2000 and 2008 on research to improve educational outcomes for everyone from preschool children to adults. It published findings in March 2007 which may help make the early careers of young engineers more satisfying.

Picture from the Teaching and Learning Research Programme website

Picture from the Teaching and Learning Research Programme website

The Learning in Nursing, Engineering and Accountancy (LiNEA) project is part of the TLRP. Its work on engineering looked at the early careers of 38 civil, electrical, electronic and mechanical engineers and was led by Professor Fred Maillardet, former Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Brighton.

LiNEA has found that formal support has at best a minor role in the learning process undertaken by engineers in their first jobs. They are forced to look through their company and seek experts who can tell them what they need to know.

Part of the problem is the structure of engineering projects themselves. They are hard to split up into components for which new graduates can be given responsibility. Recent graduates in most disciplines of engineering often seem underemployed and dissatisfied in their role. By contrast, accountancy has a workflow structure in which new graduates can be given responsibility at an early stage. Through this, graduates report being appropriately challenged. Nurses are at the other extreme, subject to high levels of stress and overwork from the day they arrive in their first job.

One idea that sounds good but tends not to work is mentoring. It often fails to command commitment from the company or the mentor. Graduates a year or two along the career track are often more use to a new arrival than an official mentor. Training managers, too, are low in the pecking order at engineering firms. They have little power to suggest which project an engineer might work on to expand his or her skills in the right direction.

During autumn 2007, Professor Maillardet plans to launch the LiNEA findings to the engineering profession with at least one meeting involving the professional institutions, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the EEF.

To see the findings, see Research Briefing 25 at

Engineering for all - At the BA Festival

After a successful outing in Norwich in 2006, the BA Festival of Science heads to the historic city of York in September 2007. The week-long event is one of the UK's biggest celebrations of science, engineering and technology. Held at a different location every year, it attracts around 400 of the best scientists and science communicators from home and abroad, revealing the latest developments in research.

Picture used for thr BA Festival of Science

Picture used for thr BA Festival of Science

Modern day York is the home of the Science City York initiative which has helped to create many new technology companies and jobs. This year the The British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) Festival will run from 9-15 September and will be hosted by the University of York, with a City Centre Programme running as well.

The Engineering Section of the festival will be hosting an exciting, interactive exhibition on Wednesday 12 September on the University Campus. This exhibition will be about engineering in entertainment and will form part of the Schools Programme.

Exhibitors taking part in the exhibition will include BBC Research and Development, Future Flight, the London Eye design team, Formula Student and the Best Programme. There is no charge for attending and, as always, the day promises to be a fun and educational experience for all those who visit – a miniature roller coaster, a virtual reality TV and a 21st century gaming cave really should not to be missed.

For more information see

Thomas Telford 250

2007 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Telford, eminent engineer, and the first President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) from 1820 until his death in 1834. Throughout 2007 the life of Telford will be celebrated with a number of nationwide events.

Thomas Telford 250 logo

Thomas Telford 250 logo

Born on 9 August 1757 in the lowlands of Scotland, Telford began his career as an apprentice stonemason. After time spent in London and Edinburgh he was appointed surveyor of public works for Shropshire and it was here that he established his reputation as an engineer. Telford went on to dominate civil engineering in the British Isles in a way that no individual has before or since, being responsible for the building of over 1500 miles of road, 400 miles of canal, in excess of 1000 bridges and aqueducts, 100 ports and harbours, and over 50 churches and public buildings.

Among some of the many events planned to take place in the summer of 2007:

25 May – 20 October

Married to the job…Thomas Telford and Engineering. The Mikron Theatre Company are touring the nation with a play celebrating Telford’s iconic achievements and asking from where the next generation of ‘Telfords’ will come.

9-13 July

International Conference entitled ‘The Telford Legacy in North Wales’ at the University of Bangor,Wales. Over six sessions, the programme will highlight and discuss Telford’s influence in North Wales.

20 July - 2 September

TELFORD 250 - Continuing the vision of Thomas Telford. An exhibition at the Guildhall, London, to recognise Telford’s achievements and question his legacy for the future.

9-12 August

To commemorate the anniversary of Telford’s birth date, plaques are to be unveiled at a number of key Telford projects in Wales.

16 September

Telford Tour, Birmingham. A guided tour of Telford’s key projects in the West Midlands.

2 October – 25 November

Telford Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, Scotland. This exhibition will focus on what it is like to be a civil engineer in the 21st Century, recognising that Telford was ahead of his time with his innovative designs and use of materials.

In February 2007, the Institution of Civil Engineers launched a Thomas Telford website at which details of these and many other activities celebrating Telford’s life and achievements can be found. Also on the website is an interactive timeline and monthly blog with information about every aspect of his life.

For more information see

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