Engineering: New way forward

An exciting new engineering diploma is about to hit the classroom, says the director of education programmes at The Royal Academy of Engineering.

A brand new engineering curriculum is being launched in hundreds of schools and colleges this September. Part of the new array of 14-19 diplomas, the diploma in engineering will put engineering onto the main schools’ curriculum for the first time.This is the most exciting development in the teaching of engineering for years.

What engineering is all about

Engineering is a fantastic career choice. It is a genuine profession and with that comes respect. It is well paid, and with a need for more engineers, there are loads of great jobs on offer.Many will involve international travel, high level business negotiations, and leadership skills in those that take them on.

But engineering is a bit of a hidden gem. When The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Technology Board asked 1,000 adults recently, very few really knew what 21st century engineering was about. Too often, engineering was limited in people’s minds to building bridges, maintaining the family car or repairing a central heating boiler. All these are valid examples of engineering, of course, but the profession is so much wider.

Food is an engineered product (for better or worse) and the problems caused by our overcrowded cities will need engineered solutions. As will the problems faced by a rapidly ageing population (the number of 18-year-olds in the UK will reach a peak in 2010 and then fall away rapidly).None of this mentions the much-talked-about subjects of climate change and sustainable energy. If the engineers don't find technological solutions to these, what will our politicians do about it?

New engineering diploma

So engineering is a red hot topic for young people and their families, yet most people know so little about it. This is where the diploma in engineering can change everything. From September, people as young as 14 years old can learn all about engineering at school and they can choose to carry that forward until they are 19.This will be nothing like regular school. For a start, the diplomas are set up as partnerships between schools, colleges and local universities and they have a lot of input from local employers. This means that fresh ways of learning can develop: project based learning, active learning by doing, learning in teams, learning outside the classroom, learning in the workplace. What is learnt will be different as the curriculum will be set in an engineering context. Learning abstract facts will be gone, replaced with the development of thinking and doing skills that help solve practical problems.

In England, Year 10 and 11 students will study the diploma in engineering for one or two days a week alongside regular GCSEs in English, maths, science and ICT. Older students taking the advanced diploma will spend the whole week studying engineering, although there will be room for one or two additional courses such as a BTEC unit, an AS-level qualification or even a full A-level. So the stage is set for new things in September. The most exciting thing is that students can opt for a course that really opens doors. Not all students taking the diploma in engineering will become engineers. That’s not the point. What they will get is new learning experience in different learning environments. They will get new skills in maths and in science. They will gain experience and confidence in making decisions, often very technical ones. They will learn to harness their creativity and to design new products and services. They will learn to work in teams as well as on their own. All these are very transferable skills, applicable in just about any walk of life. Employers often say that what they want are articulate recruits, with good self awareness, good thinking skills, flexible minds and the ability to make good decision. The diploma in engineering gives all of these. And some of its graduates will like their time spent in engineering so much that they will choose it for life, which can’t be a bad thing.

The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Behaviour Support Assistant (BSA)

(?19,817 ? ?21,734)Pro Rata: Randstad Education Leeds: Behaviour Support Assis...

HE Dyslexia Tutor/Study Skills Tutor P/T

£21 - £22 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Randstad Education has been help...

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently seeking dy...

Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?