This week I want to enthuse about one of the most energetic and exciting speakers that I have heard for a long time: Susan Scurlock, who spoke last month at the Annual Congress of the UK Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC). Susan’s premise is that all young children are engineers. Just look at what toddlers will do if you give them a bag of bricks or when kindergarten kids are given a box of Lego. Somehow we manage to ‘educate’ the engineer out of them before they finish secondary school. So, the solution to increasing the supply of engineers is to nurture these nascent engineering tendencies provided to everyone by nature. Susan founded Primary Engineer in 2005 and in 2014 established the Institution of Primary Engineers and the Institution of Secondary Engineers to support this process. Children can become Primary Engineers through developing their innate engineering skills as part of a programme of activities.
Susan describes it as ‘STEM by stealth’. Her organisation provides training courses for teachers on practically applying Mathematics and Science to design and make activities. The results leave both children and teachers inspired. The Institution’s work is supported by industry, higher education and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. When children graduate to secondary school they can join the Institution of Secondary Engineers and then move onwards to the professional institutions as student members when they go to university. So, there is pipeline from children’s bricks and Lego to being a professional engineer.
All of this needs support and enthusiasm from the engineering profession. So, if you have already made it through the pipeline then consider helping Susan make it pipeline that doesn’t leak.
The EPC made a podcast of Susan’s presentation that you can listen to at: