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IET - Institution of Engineering and Technology (Professional Institute)

Autumn Statement: long-term support for innovation needed

04/12/2014 10:07

03 December 2014: Today’s Autumn Statement included measures to support innovation but a long term package of support is needed according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Paul Davies, IET Head of Policy said: “Innovation is important to the UK as it affords an opportunity to create new high value jobs to contribute to an improved UK economy. Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of the role Government plays in successful innovation in business.

“The extra finance announced will help the UK lead the next generation of technologies such as printable electronics, robotics, and carbon fibre composites here in the UK.

“This investment will help around 250 more UK companies get new and better products that they need to go to market faster in key manufacturing sectors like aerospace and automotive. This is expected to generate an additional £745 million to the UK economy.”

But longer term support is needed. The IET believes that the next Government will need to act in five different areas in order to achieve innovation success in the period 2015 to 2020.

1. A stable and supportive business environment.
Businesses of all sizes and from all sectors need a framework to enable them to plan their innovation strategy for long term success.

2. Increased innovation investment support.
Businesses require an increased level of support for investment so that ideas and concepts can be proven, solutions developed and scaled up for commercial success. The investment opportunities should be considered as a UK wide approach to include better procurement, logistics and location.

3. Improved home grown skills developed to support innovative businesses.
The Perkins Review of Engineering Skills identified a range of recommendations for joint action between the Government, business and the wider engineering profession. Investment by government should be aligned to the needs of innovative businesses so that there is the long term goal of having UK apprentices, graduates and existing employees skilled in the required areas.

4. Enable more SMEs to access and exploit the available resources and investment in innovation.
It is recognised that many SMEs do not have the broad awareness and specific expertise to submit applications to access the range of initiatives available in the UK. More regionalised awareness and assistance hubs in cities and localities should be provided to support local businesses that could operate within relevant communities to ensure they are accessing the correct expertise and investment opportunities.

5. Government departments working together to support innovation.
It is important that all government departments are aligned, coordinated and contribute to an innovation strategy. This means areas such as tax incentives, procurement, intellectual property, export promotion and inward investment are all geared towards supporting business innovation across all sectors of industry.

Disney UK supports global Lego robotics competition to help tackle engineering and technology skills shortage

04/12/2014 09:46

To coincide with the release of its new action packed animation adventure Big Hero 6, the Walt Disney Studios has joined forces with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Bechtel to champion the 2014/15 FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) competition, which is designed to encourage more young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at school and develop skills for employment.

The new season of the annual FLL competition, which kicked off last week, tasks 9-16 year olds with building and programming robots, using LEGO MINDSTORM robots, to perform a range of challenging tasks, including shooting a ball into a small goal and unlocking a hoop from a trap.

Disney’s Big Hero 6, which hits cinemas on 30 January 2015, showcases the world of robotics in a new and exhilarating way. The film tells the story of the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.” The film is inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, and is directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), and produced by Roy Conli (“Tangled”).

Gareth James, Head of Education at the IET, said: “It’s great to have Disney on board for this year’s FIRST LEGO League competition as it will help to grow awareness of robotics and engineering among a much wider audience – and hopefully get the message to young children that studying STEM can lead to fascinating and exciting careers.

“The UK is currently facing a significant skills gap in engineering and technology. It is predicted that we will need 87,000 new engineers each year for the next decade. With help from Disney, we want to attract more and more young people to things like engineering and robotics, so that they consider pursuing careers in these areas in later life.”

There will be a special video message from the directors of Big Hero 6 highlighting the importance of developing engineering skills at a young age and Disney will be presenting a unique Baymax trophy to the overall winner of the Core Values Award at the UK and Ireland FLL final in February 2015.

The winner of the UK and Ireland final will then go on to St Louis, USA to represent the UK and Ireland at the FIRST® LEGO® League World Festival in April 2015.

The IET is FLL’s UK operational partner. Supporting the competition is part of the IET’s commitment to show young people the benefits of careers within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). For the second year, FLL will be sponsored by Bechtel – one of the world’s most respected engineering, construction, and project management companies.

FIRST LEGO League helps young competitors to develop skills in design and technology, programming and control, mathematics, research, strategic thinking and teamwork. For more information visit: www.firstlegoleague.co.uk.

IET warns that buildings need improved cyber security practices to safeguard against hackers

06/11/2014 12:09

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has launched a new guide, Code of Practice: Cyber Security in the Built Environment, to help building owners develop more effective cyber security management to protect their building management systems and information from cyber attack.

With a focus on practical advice, the new guide explains how to protect a building’s systems from hackers and other unavoidable incidents, as well as how to improve their business continuity processes. It also covers personnel security advice as today’s building management must also consider threats from disgruntled staff or contractors.

The premise for the Code of Practice is that building owners, operators and occupiers need to understand cyber security and promote awareness to a building’s stakeholders.  This includes giving appropriate briefing to the design, construction and facilities management teams.

Hugh Boyes, IET Cyber Security Lead and author of the Code of Practice, said: “It’s common practice now for all parties involved in building construction and management to operate in line with stringent health and safety practices.  Failure to address cyber security risks could have just as dire consequences as neglecting health and safety, such as serious injury or fatality, disruption or damage to building systems and loss of use of the building, and yet awareness of the issue is markedly lower.

“It’s tempting to think that hackers attacking buildings and their operating systems are the reserve of science fiction movies, but these kinds of attacks are already starting to happen in real life. Hackers have attacked building management systems governing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. There is also the example of a cyber-attack on the Target group of stores in the US, which was initiated using remote access credentials from one of the company’s contractors. In this example, the hacker was able to gain access to the corporate network, resulting in the theft of card details for over 140 million credit cards.

“While hacker attacks of this kind remain relatively rare, building owners and managers can’t afford to be complacent.”

Buildings are becoming increasingly complex and dependent on the extensive use of information and communications technologies. The Code of Practice explains why it is essential that cyber security is considered throughout a building’s lifecycle and the potential financial, reputational and safety consequences that may arise if cyber security threats are ignored.

It provides clear user-friendly guidance to help people from a wide range of technical and non-technical backgrounds understand how managing cyber security applies to their job roles – and outlines their personal responsibilities in maintaining the security of the building.

For more information, visit: http://www.theiet.org/resources/standards/index.cfm

IET works with MPs and female engineers to inspire tomorrow’s engineers

04/11/2014 13:54

3rd November 2014:  As part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, which kicks off today to change perceptions of engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is working with MPs and inspirational female engineering role models to tackle the engineering skills shortage.

This activity also supports the launch today of the 2014 Engineering Skills: Perkins Review Progress Report, which gives an update of activity since last year’s report to promote the merits of an engineering career – as well as an overview of priorities for the year ahead.

Working with Teach First, the IET has recruited trailblazing young female engineers to visit a number of local schools to inspire young people, particularly girls, to consider a career in engineering. Their visits are also designed to improve teachers’ understanding of the diverse, exciting and creative range of careers available in modern engineering.

Separately, the IET is calling on MPs across the UK to sign its IET Skills Pledge to encourage local businesses to work with schools and colleges in their constituencies as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers week.

Most MPs have a number of successful engineering businesses in their constituencies and can be very effective in influencing them to collaborate with schools and colleges to create a pipeline of future engineering talent.

The call follows findings from the recent IET Skills Survey, which found that over half of the engineering employers surveyed felt that they should work more closely with education providers in order to tackle the engineering skills shortage.

The IET pledge also calls for MPs to encourage girls and boys to consider STEM careers, promote the value of vocational STEM subjects and promote STEM careers with parents.

William Webb, President of the IET, says: “The new Perkins Report, published today as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, shows some fantastic progress over the last year in increasing awareness of engineering as a challenging and rewarding option for young people.  While this is very encouraging, the report also makes it clear that there is a lot of work still to be done and we must all – Government, employers, educators and professional bodies – continue in our commitment to meeting the challenge ahead.

“Engineering and science university applications have increased this year, but it’s important to ensure that these applications translate into future engineers.

“During 2014 Tomorrow’s Engineers Week the IET has chosen to focus particularly on some of the areas identified in the report for future improvement, such as encouraging schools and colleges to build stronger working relationships with local employers, and supporting teachers and tutors in schools and colleges to improve their understanding of the engineering sector.”

Engineering beats law and finance as parental job choice for their kids, but medicine is out in front as the best career choice

03/10/2014 15:46

Medicine and associated professions top the list of parental career choices for their children (18 per cent), while a career in finance is named by far fewer (3 per cent). Administration comes at the bottom of the list (1 per cent). These are the findings of a survey of parents of 11-16 year olds commissioned by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to discover to what extent parents’ attitudes to engineering careers are contributing to the engineering skills shortage in the UK.

Only 7 per cent of parents who expressed a preferred career choice for their child chose engineering, beating law (4 per cent) and finance, but lagging behind teaching (10 per cent) and arts & media (11 per cent).

The IET believes that engineers need to work harder to make engineering appealing to the next generation – and their parents – and to convince them that engineering is a worthwhile and motivating career choice. More encouraging is that 14 per cent of parents said they thought a career in science and technology would be best for their child, suggesting that technology is the area of engineering that has most appeal for parents.

When asked the reasons for their choice of career, the top reason given by parents was “I think they would enjoy it” (50 per cent), followed by “I think they would be good at it” (38 per cent) and “I think it would be interesting” (28 per cent). Pay and job stability were lower down the list at 21 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. “Because I work in that industry” was bottom of the list at only 4 per cent.

Only 36 per cent of parents cited “I think there are good job opportunities” or “I think there are good career opportunities” as their reason, suggesting that the fact that the engineering sector will need 87,000 engineers each year over the next decade is unlikely to be a major motivating force for parents.

William Webb, who becomes IET President today, says: “It’s great to see that parents are choosing engineering as a career for their children above traditionally popular careers such as law and finance. But given the engineering skills shortage we face in the UK, we still need to do more to convince parents that engineering is a creative, rewarding and diverse career for their child.

“We mustn’t underestimate the important role mums and dads play in influencing their children’s career choice – and they are a vital target audience if we want to inspire more young people to take up engineering-related subjects at school and college – and then go on to become engineers.

“It’s interesting to see that the biggest driving force for their choice of career for half of the parents was potential job satisfaction.  Engineers are often passionate about their jobs so this is something we need to work harder to communicate to young people and their parents.

“Government, employers and professional institutions are all coming together to encourage more young people to study science and engineering subjects at school – so this research is a timely reminder that we must make sure parents are at the heart of our campaign.”

Five young female engineers are set to turn engineering stereotypes on their head

01/10/2014 07:40

Five young female engineers working on the next generation of 3D printers, laser warning systems for military aircraft and the cooling system for a futuristic new car, have all been shortlisted for a prestigious engineering industry award, which aims to banish outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and greasy pipes – and help change the perception that engineering is only a career for men.

Jessica Bestwick (20), Hannah Pearlman (27), Laurie-Ann Marshall (20), Naomi Mitchison (28) and Lucy Ackland (26), have all been shortlisted for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards.

The shortlisted candidates are:

  • Lucy Ackland is a Project Manager at Renishaw plc, working on the next generation of metal 3D printing machines.
  • Naomi Mitchison is a Senior Hardware Engineer at Selex ES, specialising in laser warning systems for military aircraft.
  • Hannah Pearlman is a Cooling Systems Engineer at Ford, working on the cooling system for the next generation Fiesta.
  • Jessica Bestwick is working as a Higher Technical Apprentice at Rolls-Royce, developing and testing large aircraft engines.
  • Laurie-Ann Marshall works as an Apprentice Circuit Engineer at ABB Ltd, designing electricity sub-station protection and control systems.

The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards aim to find female role models to help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis. Women currently represent only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK (source: 2014 IET Skills Survey), the lowest percentage in Europe. If this trend continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 87,000 new engineers it is estimated the country will need each year over the next decade (according to Engineering UK 2014, the state of engineering).

Michelle Richmond, IET Director of Membership, and a former YWE winner, said: “The lack of women in engineering is a huge problem for this country, contributing to skills shortages which threaten the economy. It also means that women are missing out on interesting and rewarding careers.

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things: from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A-level, through to employers needing to do more to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly.

“It’s also a result of the lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls – which is where our Young Woman Engineer of the Year winners can play a vital role by encouraging and inspiring more young girls to become engineers.”

The winner will be announced at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony on 10 December in central London.  For more information, visit www.theiet.org/ywe.

Scottish referendum ‘no’ result will strengthen UK’s position as a science and engineering powerhouse

22/09/2014 07:32

The ‘no’ outcome in the Scottish Referendum on independence will help secure Scotland’s future at the forefront of engineering and technology and will strengthen the United Kingdom’s overall position as a leading innovator on the world engineering stage, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Alison Carr, IET Director of Policy said: “The contribution of engineering and science to Scotland's economy has been hugely significant in the past and will continue to prosper now that Scotland is to remain part of the United Kingdom.

“For many years, Scotland has been at the cutting-edge of engineering and science developments in many diverse areas such as renewable energy, smart grid technology, medical wellbeing and electronics.
“With Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom, we can continue to join forces to work together on major issues such as energy security, and build on the achievements of Scotland’s high-performing science and engineering economy.

“Key to this success will be ensuring the supply of science and engineering skills which will be needed in the coming years to increase Scotland and the UK’s competitiveness globally.”

Engineer’s mission to “disrupt the pink aisle” comes to the UK

22/09/2014 07:30

The CEO and founder of GoldieBlox, an award-winning toy company on a mission to "disrupt the pink aisle" in supermarkets and toy shops with interactive construction toys and stories to encourage girls to become future innovators and engineers, will be the keynote speaker at a London event next week.

Debbie Sterling will address engineers, teachers and parents at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Women’s Network event “Inspiring the Next Generation”. She will discuss her own route into engineering: the people that influenced her: and how she went about creating an award-winning range of toys to banish outdated female toy stereotypes and entice young girls to play with interactive  construction toys traditionally reserved for boys.

An engineer and entrepreneur, Sterling, aged 32, made it her mission in life to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Sterling’s inspiration came as she thought back on her days studying at Stanford University, where she was only one of a handful of women in her engineering class. The gender discrepancy in engineering was something she was determined to change.

Sterling created GoldieBlox to introduce engineering concepts to girls at an early age, providing them with more options and spawning a movement to disrupt pink toy aisles everywhere. GoldieBlox is an interactive toy, containing a book series and construction set, which encourages kids to build in the context of a narrative. The stories feature Goldie, a girl inventor who solves problems by building simple machines.

Michelle Richmond, IET Director of Membership, said: “Women currently represent only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK, the lowest percentage in Europe. If this trend continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 87,000 new engineers it is estimated the country will need each year over the next decade (according to Engineering UK).

“The lack of women in engineering is a huge problem for this country, contributing to skills shortages which damage the economy. The shocking reality is that the UK is only utilising a small fraction of the potential workforce in this vital sector. It also means that women are missing out on interesting and rewarding career opportunities.”

The company began on funding platform Kickstarter, launching in the US in 2012 and going from prototype to selling more than $1M of product through pre-orders in less than a year. GoldieBlox is now available in the US, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The event takes place at 6:30pm on Wednesday 24 September at the Al Qasimi Lecture Theatre in Prince Phillip House, central London. For more information, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-iet-womens-network-inspiring-the-next-generation-tickets-13065079003.

The IET Women's Network runs regular events which aim to provide female engineers with a means of support to help them throughout their career.