Smart Machines & Factories
Bring engineering into primary schools
Published:  30 July, 2019

I was recently lucky enough to attend the launch of two new engineering Institutions for children at the House of Lords, which will help nurture and encourage the abundance of talent we need as an engineering nation.

The fifteen-year mission of Dr Susan Scurlock, MBE, to bring engineering into primary classrooms took its most ambitious step yet as Primary Engineer officially launched The Institution of Primary Engineers and The Institution of Secondary Engineers.

I personally am extremely excited about this launch and at the prospect that both Institutions may offer many future generations of children, and maybe even my own daughter, the opportunity to develop a love for engineering. They have been built for the digital age and are set to change the way skills are taught and nurtured in schools for both boys and girls. Having spoken to Dr Susan Scurlock, MBE, founder of Primary Engineer and creator of the two Institutions I am absolutely convinced that they will help provide the foundation to challenge the widening engineering skills and gender-gap and improve school pupils’ career pathways and employability through close collaboration with pupils, educators, industry, the STEM community, and parents.

The two Institutions have been designed to help pupils and teachers structure skills, both personal and those closely related to engineering, and the wider STEM curriculum continuously throughout a pupil’s educational journey. Delivered via an online portal they allow teachers to create, access and evaluate projects while keeping track of the skills their school delivers.

Both The Institution of Primary Engineers and The Institution of Secondary Engineers have also received wide support by numerous preeminent engineering figures, including Professor John Perkins, CBE FREng, author of The Perkins Review who argued in 2013 that substantially increasing the number of engineers would help the UK economy. I agree with his comments made at the launch that the Institutions will provide the framework for bringing together STEM initiatives and education into a single, cohesive journey for children that will track and celebrate their progress as they move through the education system: “Too often, young people’s experience of STEM related activities, either as part of the curriculum in schools, or through outreach by industry or voluntary organisations, feels patchy and a little random. The Institutions are designed to provide a coherent structure to help overcome this problem.”

Young people will be at the heart of the next generation of engineering talent, and this is a much needed service and opportunity for them, irrespective of gender. As a nation we need to build on these new institutions and use it as the foundation of a much wider concerted effort to encourage engineering skills.

Aaron Blutstein, Editor