Tag: Engineering

Don’t Knock Jony Ive’s Passion

Following the recent launch of iPhone 6 and iWatch Yahoo’s Tech Columnist Rob Walker took a tilt at Jony Ive’s video presentations.

Now I know they’re high profile (and much mimicked) but we should be applauding Ive’s love of engineering and the way he underlines the skills of the Apple team, not belittling it.  If only there were more such engineers around, particularly here in Ive’s home country the UK.

What Jonathan underlines is that behind these products lie innovations, at many levels, which the vast majority of our consumer society just take for granted.

It’s done in a way that is low on tech speak, makes you look more closely at the product, and leads you to realise they result from the collective effort of dozens of creative engineers. Yes engineering is very creative! read more

Engineers are wired differently

When it comes to solving problems engineers are geniuses. Our government and society looks to them to provide solutions to the big issues of the day, be they global warming, power generation, communications, infrastructure and many more.

So with such a reputation it’s surprising that there is one dilemma beyond the capabilities of this select group of resourceful thinkers.

“How to attract the young to join their ranks?”

Engineers work around systems, facts and figures but this is one situation where hard data won’t contribute to the solution. Attracting people into a sector relies upon softer values, emotional issues and factors that lie outside the professional comfort zones of most engineers. It’s something that can’t be measured or predicted. read more

Women don’t talk Engineering

If the world of public speaking is an indicator of public interests then women and engineering just don’t mix.

Women Speakers has a roster of guest speakers upon which to call. 293 highly articulate women able to present and discuss diverse subjects across 109 categories –  from art and history to gardening, education, fashion, health, business etc.  Yet nowhere does an engineer or engineering feature.

Granted there are commentators with a science background but their focus tends to be around planet earth’s issues such as ecology and global warming.

We, in the developed world, are surrounded by technology and engineering that just a few generations ago would have been inconceivable. Even the future thinkers of your great, great grandparent’s era could not have imagined the world in which many of us live today be it cooking a meal, travel, shopping, being entertained or recovering in hospital –  I could go on. read more

Young Women who Love Engineering

Engineering envelops every aspect of our lives, yet here in Britain it is much undervalued by a huge percentage of the population. According to a study by the Robert Bosch Group only 23% of the young think Engineering is of any importance to our economy.

So why aren’t the young, and girls in particular, being attracted into Engineering? Last year only 400 girls completed engineering apprenticeships, whilst 58,600 studied Health and Social Care.

The image of engineers as greasy men in dungarees or hardhats, faced with factory closures has been hard to shrug off. It has prejudiced the views of many parents and teachers in guiding teenagers away from careers in engineering. read more

Dyson – The Example to Follow

News today that James Dyson is planning to invest £250M in a new R&D facility. Creating the building and facility is one challenge; finding the engineers to fill it is another.

“It will be impossible to find the additional 3,000 engineers needed unless the Government makes engineering a more attractive career choice”, said the entrepreneur. “As a country, we need an extra 87,000 engineers a year to meet demand.” 

“There’s no shortage of engineers in the Far East,” he added. “40pc of all graduates from Singapore University are engineers. Even the Philippines produces twice as many engineers as us”.

The image of engineering in UK has been on the decline for many years resulting in a failure to attract the best brains. Dyson is underlining that Engineering is no longer a dirty nuts and bolts industry but people based, where ideas, inspiration and team-work matter. read more

A New President

downloadMy congratulations  to Dame Ann Dowling on becoming the first female president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

I concur with her that there is no reason why there shouldn’t be more women in Engineering, but am slightly worried that she can’t see why there aren’t.

One of the key reasons is that our engineering community is very poor at communicating what they do and why they do it to the general public. With the exception of Dyson, JCB, Rolls-Royce, JLR the vast majority of our engineering is high-tech and B2B and lies well outside the day-to-day experiences of teenagers, parents and career advisors. read more

The Importance of Making Things

‘Why would anyone in their right mind choose a career in engineering when effort versus return clearly favours banking, law, politics or medicine’   states David Watson in his letter to the Times January 8.

Well life’s not all about money as Stephen Bayley explains.  Making things is hugely gratifying to the individual but also to society at large.

The great changes to the way we live were not created by bankers, lawyers or politicians, but by engineers.

An Engineering Hero!

I spent nearly 2 hours chatting to Sir David McMurtry, founder of Renishaw earlier this week.

Renishaw founder Sir David McMurtry

The engineering community often complains that it has no heroes to be lauded in the eyes of the greater public. Yet if ever we had such hero it is Sir David.

From humble beginnings he has built a business with a global reputation in its field. In the last 10 years alone Renishaw has exported over £2 billion worth of products, helping counter our staggering levels of imports. In addition the company is a major employer in western Gloucestershire, offers apprenticeships and graduate funding yet 99% of the British public will never have heard of this quiet, understated man. Shrewd in business, he is immensely proud of the achievements he and his team have made. read more

Lack of Female Role models in Engineering

Belinda Parmar cites the lack of female engineering role models in her upbringing.

Whilst I understand her point the truth is that here in the UK there is lack of role models, be they male or female, for engineering and technology. If you were to ask the man or woman in the street ‘How many UK engineering businesses you can name?’ – you’d be lucky if they knew 2 or 3.

Likewise, ‘How many present day engineers can you name?’  You might get James Dyson and there it would stop. 

I can guarantee they would know far more chefs!

Then there’s the fact that a large slice of UK engineering is focused on military and defence; not exactly the industries to attract thousands of women. read more

Attracting Women into Engineering

Robert Lea in The Times 

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BAE  sponsors a think tank to try to puzzle out why few women, and in particular ethnic minority women venture into engineering.

Sadly it’s always the same big companies BAE, JCB, Rolls Royce, Land Rover etc that get quoted whilst the real employment opportunities lie in the other 400,00 + small to medium British engineering companies.

The big problem for the majority of these SMEs is that they do not present a public face which is attractive to  women in general, whatever their ethnic background.  These companies tend to be hardnosed, data driven, and the idea of an image which is employee friendly hasn’t yet arrived. read more