Article - Issue 24, September 2005

The London Engineering Project; Shape the Future; launch of Sustainable Development booklet; public engagement

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Widening Participation in Engineering
Launch of the London Engineering Project

September will see the launch of the London Engineering Project, the London phase of the National Engineering Programme. Funded by HEFCE and backed by 14 partners, the National Engineering Programme will, over 10 years, change the face of UK higher education in engineering, by widening participation and strengthening engineering as a strategic subject.

The problems society recognises today – AIDS, poverty, obesity, an ageing population, climate change, and the need to best utilise our energy and food resources – will be solved by the next generation of technologists: by scientists, sociologists and engineers.

The National Engineering Programme recognises the patent connection between engineering and society. Higher education courses with a clearly defined link to societal issues are more attractive to the student acting as consumer, and the programme aims to radically alter the student uptake into engineering by addressing this.

The London Engineering Project will begin the process in London schools and The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Best Programme will be an integral part of this process. The extracurricular science, engineering and technology requirements of inner city schools are to be researched by a project development team and then the project consortium will deliver what is found to be needed.

Matthew Harrison, leader of the National Engineering Programme and Director of The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Best Programme, says, “I am delighted that The Royal Academy of Engineering will be leading the response to the UK Government’s declaration of engineering as a subject of strategic importance. With London South Bank University, the Best Programme and our other partners, we are well placed to work with HEIs to provide relevant and attractive degree courses and to work with inner-city schools to prospect for bright talented people to fill those courses”.


New guiding principles for Sustainable Development

Cover of Booklet - Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles

Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles

Sustainable development, especially since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment & Development at Rio de Janeiro, has become an increasingly important theme in local, national and world politics, and increasingly a central theme for the engineering professions around the world. The Academy has been operating a Visiting Professors in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development scheme since 1998. A key feature of this has been the input of practising engineers, helping academics to develop teaching materials based on real life exemplars of sustainable engineering practice. A selection of examples from these case studies has been brought together in the booklet Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles, launched this month. This valuable resource for teachers in higher education helps students understand how to recognise and address the key sustainability issues in any engineering project. Copies of the booklet can be downloaded from the Academy website at:

Shape the Future

Over the past 20 years the engineering community has witnessed a variety of campaigns, projects and initiatives aimed at improving the public perception of engineering. This autumn, The Royal Academy of Engineering is launching Shape the Future, which aims to raise the awareness of engineering as a stimulating career and show its importance as an essential and exciting part of modern Britain.

But why has the Academy placed Shape the Future so high up on its list of priorities in its recently published Strategic Plan (see

There are several key reasons. Firstly, there is no doubt that engineering needs to boost its attractiveness to young people and those who influence them. Secondly, its value to society – in terms of wealth creation and quality of life – must be better communicated. And thirdly, there is a real need for a single thread to weave together the many quality promotional activities that already exist.

Creating something new or duplicating existing activities is not the aim. Shape the Future is all about maximising impact, creating leverage and developing coherence in a busy marketplace. Perhaps above all else it is about enabling young people to take one more step down the road to discovering the joys of engineering. With this in mind, the campaign will be closely linked to the Academy’s own Best Programme as well as other initiatives, schemes and programmes that provide excellent opportunities for young people.

The success of Shape the Future depends critically upon the working partnerships built with institutions, companies, every phase of education, Academy Fellows and of course all the professional engineers and people that work in and rely on engineering.

Shape the Future will be launched at the Science Museum on the 28 November when BP Chief Executive Lord Browne will announce more details of the campaign, including poetry and photographic competitions and a professional development programme for teachers to experience engineering.

To keep up to date with what’s happening visit: or contact the Academy’s Head of Campaigns, Dave Rowley, at: or on: 020 7227 0540.

New report on the public value of science

A new report from independent think-tank Demos was launched on 13 September at the Royal Society, London. ‘The Public Value of Science: How to ensure that science really matters’ argues that we need new ways of talking about and building 'the public value of science'.

Public value is defined as the social and economic benefits that flow from science policy and investment. But, the report suggests, we lack a shared framework for describing, debating and organising the contribution of science and technology to wider social goals. Britain's hope of becoming the best place in the world to do science rests as much on giving scientists the freedom and incentive to renew their institutions and practices as it does on 10-year frameworks and R&D targets. This in turn reinforces why it is vital to engage the public in decisions about science. The notion of public value can enrich conversations between scientists, policymakers and the wider public. It encourages dialogue to be about more than just competing views, by opening up more fundamental questions: Why do we invest in science? Where it is taking us? Who it is for?

The report can be downloaded at:

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