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How Jacobs is Building the Future of Engineering in the U.K.

With the Year of Engineering 2018 in full momentum, engineers and organizations across the U.K. are celebrating the positive impact of engineering. From spaceships to visitor attractions, the bubbles in chocolate bars to medical breakthroughs, engineering touches our lives every day. A career in engineering is exciting, rewarding and creative. Yet there is a big shortage of young people who think it could be a job for them. Over the course of 2018, Jacobs is working in our local communities to shake-up people’s ideas about engineering and inspire the next generation of innovators, inventors and problem solvers by showing them what engineers actually do.

London Transport Museum’s Summer of Engineering

In August, we hosted STEM activities with visitors at the London Transport Museum during their Great Summer of Engineering Open Weekend. Jacobs ran two activities – a bridge building activity where young people explored the different materials that could be used and practiced their math skills by allocating a budget to build their bridge. For our younger audience, we shared fun facts and coloring sheets of various projects from the Queensferry Crossing in Scotland, to the British Airways i360 Observation Tower in England, through to our programs with NASA.

Jacobs is also working with London Transport Museum to help bring the U.K.'s Year of Engineering 2018 to life with a new interactive Future Engineers gallery. This gallery aims to engage young people, parents and schools in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects, while showcasing cutting-edge engineering and technological innovations through hands-on exhibits – including a new state-of-the-art train-driving simulator. We’re helping to create an interactive exhibit that encourages visitors to experiment with the key elements needed to make a city like London greener, happier and better connected.

London Transport Museum developed the Year of Engineering 2018 Future Engineers gallery as part of the U.K. government-led campaign to raise the profile of engineering among 7 to 16-year-olds and encourage more young people to consider a career in engineering. This new, highly interactive gallery will highlight the creativity, social value and sheer range of jobs available in engineering.

A Big Bang of a Year

Jacobs has enjoyed meeting imaginative and inquiring minds at many of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fairs, including South Wales, North East, South West, South Yorkshire, Liverpool, Birmingham and Uxbridge. In Telford in the West Midlands, one of our NASA team members called the students to share more insight into the exciting work our teams are doing.

Our Bristol STEM team delivered vibrant and successful activities at the Big Bang South West event at the University of the West of England, Bristol in June.  Schoolchildren traveled from all over the South West of England and Wales to attend, and our team supporting the event included two students serving internships with Jacobs and two inquisitive Year 10 students from the local academy in Bristol.

Across the country, we’re hosting internships and work experience placements, with activities ranging from week-long projects, modelling, site visits and department/discipline rotations, to presentation and communications skills. Our calendar of school STEM events has been brimming with engaging activities both in schools and through engineering/STEM awareness days in our offices across the U.K. and Ireland. From “MakeFest” at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester to the “Great Science Share for Schools,” there’s been a huge vibe of creativity and inspiration.

The Big Project

Our team returned to Carmel College in Darlington, England, for the final of The Big Project where three teams competed to be crowned this year’s winner. The Big Project is Jacobs’ initiative to create a legacy for the school and industry by promoting the opportunities available to students in STEM subjects. In a series of rounds, students had to develop an idea that would improve our business or services, supported by a Jacobs mentor and a teacher. 

The teams presented a variety of solutions to the judging panel which included a Project Information Portal (PIP) using Augmented Reality (AR) to provide a safety focus; a health and wellbeing app that monitors employee’s work hours and encourages breaks at regular intervals; and a device and app that would monitor healthy work habits, such as sitting with a correct posture to combat backache. In addition to the prizes and certificates awarded, the three teams were invited to pitch their ideas at one of our management team meetings.

Engineering Open House Day

In August, Jacobs’ offices in Manchester and Grimsby opened their doors to local children for Engineering Open House Day, held in association with the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology), to coincide with the Year of Engineering. The special events had engineers joining in with family workshops, allowing visitors to experience the world of engineering first-hand and gain an insight into the reality of the exciting careers offered in this field. At the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, children got to watch “The Science Showdown: Everyday Solutions” show to hear from real engineers on everything from laser transmissions to bicycle gears, and see the everyday solutions they use in their jobs. 

Ralph Butterfield Playground Project

Jacobs and other companies are helping Ralph Butterfield primary school in York to get an unusable part of their playground back in use as an outside classroom area which is ideal for STEM investigations and experiments.  During the project, we’ve also been running activities linking back to STEM subjects and the work that a project-based business does to encourage more students to consider careers in STEM.

The Social Mobility Foundation Residential Program

The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is a charity that aims to improve social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds who are high achievers. This year, we saw our 100th student through the residential program, with 20 of the students completing their SMF residential during an action packed week of activities, including shadowing some of our project teams and network lunches with our senior leadership team.

The Opportunity

It is well documented that the U.K. faces a nationwide skills shortage – 203,000 people with engineering skills will be required each year to meet demand through to 2024 – but it’s estimated that there will be an annual shortfall of 59,000 engineers and technicians to fill these roles.

By highlighting the important role that engineers play in everyday life, and the creativity and diversity of work in this sector, the Year of Engineering connects directly with children to inspire and motivate them towards exploring careers in engineering and technology. It also equips and encourages parents to support their children in nurturing their curiosity. To find out more, visit, search #YoE on Twitter or view the introduction to the Year of Engineering video.





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