Engineering career misconceptions debunked in new campaign

engineering career misconceptions
© iStock/Georgijevic

A campaign by the Royal Academy of Engineering aims to promote engineering as a career by addressing young people’s misconceptions about the profession.

This Is Engineering, launched in 2018 in collaboration with education non-profit EngineeringUK, works to close the skills gap in the engineering sector by encouraging young people to see engineering as a viable career option. The campaign has assembled a panel of young engineers to compile, with input from a variety of technical experts, a list of “seven wonders of the 21st century world”: major breakthroughs which are not widely recognised as feats of engineering.

The seven wonders as determined by This Is Engineering’s panel are:

  • Gore-Tex, the breathable waterproof fabric common in hiking gear and outerwear;
  • Hawk-Eye, a computer system capable of tracking the motion of a ball, frequently relied on for close calls in sports including football, cricket and tennis;
  • iPhone, the pioneering smartphone;
  • YouTube, the ubiquitous video hosting platform;
  • Dolby Atmos, a powerful sound system;
  • 3D printing of bone implants, a revolutionary healthcare technology; and
  • Clean water, facilitated by a range of engineering innovations.

Professor Mark Miodownik MBE FREng, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and engineering broadcaster and writer, said: “Engineering plays an essential part in everyday life, from the water we drink to the gadgets we use, and it’s also vital to addressing the challenges of the future. However, our survey shows that many young people don’t associate engineering with the technology they use day to day, and the things they’re interested in, which could mean they miss out on the opportunities to change the world as an engineer. We hope our list of surprising, 21st Century engineering wonders will inspire today’s teenagers and give them new opportunities.”

A survey into young people’s engineering career misconceptions, conducted by OnePoll for the Royal Academy of Engineering, found that many of the UK’s 11- to 18-year-olds had a stereotypical, blinkered view of the field of engineering. Only 14 per cent of those surveyed were aware that engineering roles were prevalent in the music industry; while eight per cent of respondents knew that the food, drinks and sports industries all rely on the work of engineers. Meanwhile less than 16 per cent of teenagers were aware that YouTube and Facebook, both used by more than 50 per cent of the UK’s youth, were created by engineering professionals.

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