The Invisible Superheroes have been capturing the imaginations of visitors to our London exhibition.
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But it is not enough to sit back and expect people to come to us. Instead, we’re sending the Superheroes on a mission to take ICE 200 to the world, spreading the message far and wide that civil engineers directly transform people’s lives and safeguard the future for their families.
This month, they are flying to the Big Bang Fair to show that civil engineering is a rewarding and creative career. Our superheroes-themed stand, complete with volunteer ICE members in masks and capes, offers fun activities which blend hands on challenges with technology used in an imaginative way.
First hand experience
Young people, parents and teachers get to experience first-hand the creativity and drama of civil engineering. They will be challenged to balance a bridge or risk its collapse; the fate of “Civil City” is in their hands. They will also have the opportunity to speak to real technicians and engineers to gain their insights and advice.
We are grateful to the many members and employers who support the stand. It is a real team effort and our success and effectiveness is dependent on them. There is no better way to get young people interested in a career in civil engineering than to hear from the professionals who are making a difference through their work.
Sharing the passion
We need to share this passion all the time and everywhere so the Invisible Superheroes will make more than a few appearances around the UK this year – at Big Bang Near Me fairs, Belfast Airport, the Great North Exhibition and many other events.
This activity complements the other public engagement work taking place for ICE 200, including Pitch 200, Explore Engineering, Café 200 and the People’s Choice Awards.
As engineers, we should be using our analytical skills as well as our passion. With 10M school children and 27,000 schools in the UK, no one organisation can solve the skills challenge alone. We need to do our bit alongside the wider engineering community, particularly Tomorrow’s Engineers and the Year of Engineering campaign.
We also need to be clear about the real challenges we face. While the number of civil engineering graduates has doubled in a decade, the numbers studying mechanical engineering have grown year on year while those for civil engineering are stalling. As this year’s EngineeringUK: State of Engineering report has found, demand for civil engineers will only increase with the digital transformation of infrastructure, but we face an uncertain future in recruitment. The ICE will be focusing on ways to influence 16 to 18 year olds this year to make sure civil engineering is not overlooked when young people make their post-school choices.
So let us use our heads and hearts to inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians. If you think you could play a role and want to find out more, please get in touch.
● John Laverty is ICE head of education and inspiration