Smart Machines & Factories
Exhibiting creativity
Published:  26 July, 2018

Primary Engineer recently exhibited at the Smart Industry Expo and Drives & Controls Exhibitions at the Birmingham NEC, and celebrated its week at the show by bringing home the Motion Control Industry 2018 Award for “Contribution to Skills and Training”.

The Smart Industry Expo and Drives and Controls exhibitions may not have been the event where fellow exhibitors and delegates would expect to see examples of creativity and ingenuity from children as young as 4 years of age, however, when prompted by Primary Engineer Founder and CEO Susan Scurlock with the opening statement in many a conversation “I bet you didn’t expect to see Primary Engineer here” all respondents agreed that it is exactly the place to be highlighting the need for all stakeholders to contribute to the UK engineering talent pipeline.

Although the exhibition provided a great opportunity for companies to promote their products and make sales or purchases, it was also an ideal environment to talk to businesses about their successes and long-term concerns. The consistent reply from those engaged in this conversation was that business was very good and many were “rushed off their feet”, but their major concern which has been echoed in many a report on the subject from within Industry and academia, is that finding engaging suitable personnel, and especially Engineers, was their greatest challenge.

A great talking point on the Primary Engineer stand was the “Roll Over Bench” which took pride of place and provided a functional rest-place for visiting delegates and a great conversation point. The “Roll Over Bench” was designed by a 10-year old girl as an entry to the Primary Engineer Scottish Engineering Leaders Award competition and was made as a working prototype by a team of Engineering Masters students from Strathclyde University.

Across the country school-children have interviewed Engineers, identified problems and designed solutions, and Engineers, at the time of this article, are grading those entries to determine winners per age group across many regions in the UK, and a number will be chosen by University partners to be made into working prototypes to be unveiled in 2019. Companies and other stakeholders recognise their role in supporting this competition and the other Primary Engineer programmes as an important way to contribute to solutions to their major concern of future recruitment.

Primary Engineer also provided a long-term skills viewpoint with Susan Scurlock contributing as a speaker and panellist to the “Communicating the change of digitalisation: The Economic & Social Implications of the Smart Era” and “Making the Fourth Industrial Revolution a reality”. Susan emphasised that as we rapidly approach a smarter future with automation levels increasing the need for introductory skills to be available within the education system and supported by Industry is essential to the strength of the UK economy.

MCI Awards

The Motion Control Industry Awards 2018, running alongside Drives & Controls and Smart Industry Expo also provided an opportunity to meet old friends and make new acquaintances. Primary Engineer was honoured to have been short-listed for such a prestigious award and seeing the quality of the other candidates further emphasised this.

Hosted by Helen Fospero, of GMTV and “The One Show” fame, the gala Dinner and award ceremony held at the National Conference Centre brought together the best of “Motion Control” Companies and supporting organisations.

As the nominees for the “Contribution to Skills and Training” category finalists were announced and biographies detailed there were a few “butterflies” being experienced by the expectant candidates and to hear “And the winner is.... Primary Engineer” was another vindication of the good work being delivered by the organisation and the confidence shown by Industry, Local Government, Education and other partners in Primary Engineer programmes. The award is now located along with a number of others including the Red Rose Awards and General Teaching Council of Scotland Excellence Award.

The continued success of Primary Engineer programmes is significantly enhanced by the support of companies from throughout the UK. Direct funding of programmes and the allocation of Engineer time from all fields of engineering enables Primary Engineer to work with schools, teachers and pupils from Reception age at Primary school to 16 plus students preparing for University, Apprenticeships and the world of work.

As ultimate stakeholders in this education process the investment of time and financial support of Companies and other partners will enable Primary Engineer to work with the young people and their teachers to inspire and enthuse the next generation of Engineers across all sectors, and through that help to minimise the long-term concerns of Industry regarding the future Engineering workforce.