“I learnt a lot about the world of engineering. I will be considering a profession in biomedical engineering thanks to this course.”
“The presentations and information provided were useful in breaking down the engineering field into different elements, which allowed me to more easily consider what a future career in engineering would encompass.”
“Hearing from all the qualified engineers gave me a much better understanding of all the different types of engineering there are."
Engineers Ireland is the voice for the profession in Ireland, with 25,000 members and a proud history dating back to 1835. Those members come from every engineering discipline and include every grade, from apprentices and students through to those with decades of experience. They promote the sharing of knowledge, ethical working and for all projects to be undertaken with sustainability to the fore.
Engineers Ireland approached us with a brief to expand their existing and successful in-person work experience programme. They wanted a virtual work experience programme that was open to more students, including those unable to attend in person for reasons of location, finance or other limiting factors.
There was an existing cohort of 300 students, a number they hoped to increase by making the course available more widely. They wanted the experience to provide practical information about careers in engineering, detailed routes into the industry and to inspire participants of all genders, ethnicities and backgrounds to consider STEM options as a career path.
The course should act as a pathway to encourage students towards apprenticeships and university courses with content aimed at transition year students - those aged 15 and 16.
Engineers Ireland had a framework in place from their existing work experience course and so the challenge was to adapt this to a virtual course, retaining the detail but delivering it in ways suited to online platforms rather than face-to-face.
We used a modular approach, and with the first unit tried to replicate the day one experience of an in person programme answering some basic questions (what does an engineer do exactly?) and then outline the range of roles and also routes into the profession.
The next two modules, roughly half the course content, looked at innovation in engineering and sustainability in engineering, the driving forces behind modern projects. Students worked through examples, learning how both factors are central to any project from the earliest design phase.
The final module examined future cities - what might these look like, how would they differ from the present and how was engineering leading the way? As well as some examples of current cities on the leading edge.
The course journey built interest and knowledge before showing an important real-life application, demonstrating how a career in engineering could help to shape the world we live in.
We were delighted to feedback that 95% of students had enjoyed the course and 96% said they had a better understanding of engineering. However, had it changed behaviour?
The answer was a resounding ’yes’. 89% were more likely to consider studying engineering, 82% saying they were now at least somewhat interested in a career in the field and just 3% saying they weren’t.
Success was also shown in Engineers Ireland’s desire to run a second programme.
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