Smart Machines & Factories
An Innovation Machine!
Published:  20 July, 2017

Siemens chief executive Juergen Maier is a busy man. But he recently demonstrated his personal commitment to supporting our young potential engineers by inviting in a group from Valley Gardens Middle School in North Tyneside, to interview him about his motivations to become an engineer, and his subsequent career path.

Interviews like this are an integral part of the Primary Engineer and Secondary Engineer Leaders Award, where pupils are asked to interview a ‘real’ engineer to learn more about engineering, engineering careers and routes into engineering. The second part of the programme explores their own creativity. This requires pupils to generate a new concept or product that will help improve our world in some way. This could be to help in their own bedrooms (the wake-me-up robot?), schools, communities or the wider world. There is no limit placed on their innovation other than it must be ‘feasible’ either now or in the near future.

Back to the interview, and Juergen was getting the full grilling from the assembled Year 7 students:

Shay asked: “You have talked about vocational training and the importance, how do you think it could be improved in the UK?” Juergen commented that he believed that vocational training should be viewed as importantly as going to university, and encouraged the audience to seriously consider this option when the time came.

One of the toughest questions and one which created the most debate came from Maddie: ‘Do customers ever complain about wind farms being ugly?’ Juergen smiled as he explained that this was a very difficult question and he personally felt the wind turbines are quite nice, but understood other people’s views. He went on to give a convincing explanation of the positive advantages of wind turbines, which had the desired effect as most pupils agreed that the positives outweighed the visual aesthetics.


After the interview, the group were given a tour of the facility, including a visit to the huge control room that managed all Siemens wind turbines in the UK and monitored turbines in the rest of the world. As Finlay said, “The room felt like an 007 hideout!”. There were huge screens on the wall, lots of lights and symbols that all meant different things to Mick, the duty manager. The children were clearly amazed with the work that went on there and couldn’t believe how they managed to control the wind turbines remotely from inside an office in North Tyneside.

The tour ended with pupils meeting staff at Siemens who all had different engineering roles within the Company. They were all very welcoming and answered all the question asked. It was a wonderful experience and a fantastic insight into the world of engineering. As Jack put it – ‘It’s not just overalls and getting dirty!’

The Siemens link with Primary Engineer goes much further. Siemens is now a headline sponsor for the Regional Finals of the Leaders Award programme, and recently demonstrated their ongoing support for the programme by contributing to the judging of the record breaking 22,000 entries that Primary Engineer has received this year so far.

At the Siemens facilities in Newcastle and Manchester, engineers were keen to help. Primary Engineer recently arrived at both sites with a box of 1000 school submissions ready for marking. A steady stream of engineers visited the ‘Marking Room’ throughout the day – all were amazed by the innovation and creativity of the children’s work.

One of our markers, Rachel Noonan, a draftsperson from Siemens Energy Services commented: ‘I’ve been really impressed by the thought that has gone into these suggestions, and the quality of their presentation. The Leaders Award programme certainly gives young people the chance to explore and express their creativity. It’ s been fascinating marking their submissions – we definitely have some great future engineers out there.’

Primary Engineer is always looking for more engineers to meet with and inspire the next generation of engineers. If you or your company would like to get involved, please email: