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Comment | Are you having a laugh?


“You must be having a laugh!” So said many of you in response to April’s High Speed issue when we suggested that High Speed 2 could be used as a launchpad for British engineers to lead the world in high speed.

Well, we weren’t joking; as we all know engineers aren’t very good at telling jokes. OK, Sean Locke used to be a bricklayer, but that’s about as close as we get to comedy gold. Or is it? Well, we’re going to find out, because the Royal Academy of Engineering has this week launched a competition aimed out seeking out the best engineering stand-up talent.

No, seriously, it has.

Engineering Showoff will take engineers from a broad range of backgrounds and from across the country and train them to become accomplished performers. They will, says the Academy, be challenged to take to the stage at evening cabaret-style events for adults and entertain the audience by revealing their work as engineers, using a mixture of comedy, storytelling and demonstrations.

It’s one of 23 projects funded this year under the Academy’s public engagement programme, which gives engineers the opportunity to share their stories, expertise and passion for technology with audiences ranging from school groups to retired communities.

Engineering Showoff is unquestionably the most eye-catching. Apparently it builds on the longstanding Science Showoff concept which, over the last four years, has seen over 500 people take to the stage and communicate science in different ways.

Can engineers match the scientists? It will be fascinating to find out if the Academy can unearth some hidden comedic gems. In fact, we’d love to be able to offer the stage at the British Construction Industry Awards to the best.

Imagine that – 1,000 of us being entertained not by some hired stooge poking fun at us but by one of our own, reflecting on the life and experiences of real engineers and engineering. Wouldn’t that be great?

So it’s gauntlet time: if you’ve got it in you, get involved with Engineering Showoff. Civil engineering needs some characters. I hope we find some.

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