Educational Opportunities To STEM the Flow Of Engineering Overseas.

Opinion / December 16, 2009

Stem projects in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths have probably the greatest educational interest and employment potential for children. The UK is rapidly changing direction and over the next 20 years we will see a change in our culture comparable to the dynamics of the industrial revolution. The National Curriculum must keep pace with these evolving demands and associated educational needs of our children to capture the opportunity this presents.

Manufacturing has clearly migrated east notably to India and China. But this, however, does not completely exclude the UK. Our historic expertise in design and manufacturing engineering still has a marketable value to manufacturers based overseas. We can maintain a centre of engineering excellence. The benchmark is already set by BAE who having immense skill in the design of aircraft wings, manufactures them in the UK and ships them to France for assembly into Airbus aircraft. Rolls Royce aircraft engines go overseas to be incorporated into aeroplanes. Perhaps the best example is Dyson vacuum cleaners is designed and developed in the UK, manufactured in Malaysia and sold worldwide.

This pool of expertise will still be relevant as inevitably the UK manufacturing dries up. Undaunted despite a downturn in their own sales base MG sports car designers had a hand in the design of the Mazda MX5 and Lotus cars have a hand in numerous overseas car developments. British architects designed the fantastic Viaduct de Millau motorway bridge in the French massif Central built by French civil engineers. UK Ltd. still has a lot to offer.

James Dyson tried hundreds of prototypes before he perfected the model for his vacuum cleaner; a true example of our historical culture based on resilience, inventiveness and reluctance to give up. The number of significant British inventions is disproportionate to the size of our country but it is fair to say we lack the capitalisation of the invention. If our design ability is our real strength maybe this is where we should focus our curriculum efforts.

To do this we need to convince children that science and engineering are the fun games part of education and schooling with huge potential for employment globally. If you want adventure, employment and a real opportunity of a Eureka moment, science technology, engineering and maths is the educational route to take. Our educational authorities need to capitalise on the work achieved so far and then raise the bar. In 20 years’ time the potential for British engineers is vast. We need to recognise the potential of the opportunity, perhaps adopting the German approach where an Engineer with a capital “E” holds the same status as a Doctor, bearing the prefix Eng. before their name.

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