Transcript of speech given by Dr Susan Scurlock MBE, CEO and Founder of Primary Engineer, at the House of Lords on the 9th May 2019 at the Launch of The Institution of Primary Engineers and the Institution of Secondary Engineers.
What a fabulous venue, sincere thanks to Lord Mair for hosting us, John for his kind words and Lorna for all her help and support, and of course you for taking the time and making the considerable effort to join us.
For those of you who know us well, nice to see you! For those of you at the Scottish Engineering Dinner last night like me – an extra special shout out!
For those of you new to us let me give you a little context. Primary Engineer was founded in 2005, with the aim of getting more young people into engineering. Some 14 years later we have a UK-wide footprint, engaging almost 4,000 teachers a year, 60,000 pupils and 1,500 engineers from hundreds of companies, some large and some small. We also work with 17 universities, are a partner with the Engineering Professors Council, have worked with CPNI to embed security mindedness into our work, are funded by Skills Development Scotland and many Councils across the UK, we are part of the MOD’s STEM Strategy and are proud members of the Year of Engineering. Whilst our programmes focus on teacher training and project-based learning in the classroom, we also developed a masters level course accredited by the University of Strathclyde, to increase our own research base and to improve our course content and design.
You might say we are a bit serious about this……
When we started to work with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2010. It became clear that the institution structure with its professional development, lifelong learning and network, could answer a problem we were seeing in schools.
Pupils often don’t recognise what they are good at – I am just going to say the words Personal Statement – anyone in this room that has tried to help a teenager write a personal statement will understand what I mean….
Pupils don’t recognise which experiences translate to which skills; and that’s an issue. Also, as pupils move between education phases it becomes impossible to track them or know if what they have been involved in has had any short- or long-term impact. For instance, we know what works now, but does it continue to later on?
The aim of the Institution of Primary Engineers and Institution of Secondary Engineers is to place pupils at the heart of their learning and skills development. Through our committee structure they have a voice about their schools STEM engagement and a voice within their institution. They have the opportunity to engage with our skills-focussed projects such as STATWARS, where pupils are challenged to design a film or TV series based on data analysis. Throughout their membership they are able to map and track skills, competencies and capabilities, to develop and acquire them across the length of their membership. The aim is for this journey to start in primary school and continue through to the professional bodies, whichever professional bodies their aspirations take them to.
We have seen how capable children are, how inspired by engineering they can be – the Leaders Award is a perfect example. Here, pupils as young as 3 and 4 and up to the age of 18 meet engineers and are inspired to find problems to solve, sometimes mending things that aren’t broken, (a neat skill) but more often than not creating things to help others…..we’ve seen, shopping trolleys for the elderly, all weather Zimmer frames, trampolines to charge phones, Calpol lollies, flat-pack wind turbines for refugee camps and my personal all-time favourite, a satellite to reflect sunlight onto Scotland to cure rickets.
We know from programmes like the Leaders Award that gender and diversity aren’t an issue when engineering is offered in a whole class scenario as part of the curriculum at an early age. Not only can girls be engineers but the boys know that girls can be engineers.
Just as a quick aside, we’ve not fully finished counting the Leaders Award entries, but this year over 48,000 entries landed in our Burnley office (clearly the centre of the universe for engineering education!) and half of those entries, that’s 24,000, came from girls.
The Institutions will aim to provide a structured link to industry and engineers in much the same way we have with our other programmes, enabling industry to let students know and understand the opportunities there are in their sector. In light of this (and no pun intended) it is with great delight that we can announce that the Energy and Utilities Sector, through Nick Ellins CEO of EUSKills, have committed to supporting the Institution of Primary Engineers and Institution of Secondary Engineers to help grow their next generations of diverse talent.
As I move towards the end of this speech, I think there are two questions I would pose to you.
Would you like your kids or grandkids to be members of either of these institutions? And when you were a kid, would you have? If the answer to either of these is a yes then I think you should get involved!
I would like to thank you all for joining us here today to mark the launch, I hope you like your badge and have signed the sheet to say you were here at the start of something big! Our ambitions to develop young peoples skills and understanding of engineering are huge. To realise those dreams on the scale we are aiming for will require founding funders, who believe that the future of their industry is dependant on the skills of their future employees, and that those employees are currently sat in primary and secondary classrooms across the land, world even (I said we had big ambitions)! These pupils will need to know your name now, if they are going to dream of working for you later!
Thank you for joining us, and lastly if you would like to join us on the park outside for photos as we are escorted from the premises just before 5pm, it would be a super to record the day with us and for the members of the Institution of Primary Engineers who travelled down from Fife, and our STATWARRIORS who have travelled down from Glasgow.