Primary school students take part in a workshop that is designed to encourage ‘engineering habits of mind’

Reframing engineering as a set of habits of mind is a helpful and practical way of raising students’ achievement across all subjects, according to the findings of a report carried out by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the University of Winchester’s Centre for Real-World Learning.

Research for the Learning to be an Engineer report found that schools that adapted their teaching to encourage students to develop ‘engineering habits of mind’, such as learning from failure and playful experimentation, saw benefits not just in science and maths, but in pupils’ communication skills, creative problem-solving and confidence to engage in class discussions.

The report uses the results of three pilot schemes that worked with teachers in southern England, Greater Manchester, and Glasgow and East AyrshiLearning to be an engineerre, describing ways in which a curriculum based on the ‘engineering habits of mind’ boosted pupils’ achievement and enhanced teachers’ confidence to engage with the engineering profession. The pilot scheme involved 22 primary schools, 11 secondary schools and one further education college, with 84 teachers and more than 3,000 pupils taking part.

Professor Bill Lucas, Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester, said: “If we are going to attract more young people into engineering, schools have to rethink the way they teach. The Learning to be an Engineer research has shown that, if you choose learning methods that foster engineering habits of mind such as problem finding and solving, systems thinking and visualising, then learners become more engaged.”

REPORT PUTS FORWARD 5G PLANS

In March, the government set out a strategy, Next Generation Mobile Technologies: A 5G strategy for the UK, outlining its ambition for the UK to become a global leader in 5G, and create a world-leading digital economy.

There are three main outcomes that the government hopes to achieve: accelerating the deployment of 5G networks; maximising the productivity and efficiency benefits to the UK from 5G; and creating new opportunities for UK businesses at home and abroad, while encouraging inward investment.

The government hopes to meet the aims by creating a new national 5G Innovation Network that will trial and demonstrate 5G applications. This will be funded by a £16 million investment in a cutting-edge facility. The government will also be establishing a new centre of 5G expertise in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that work to develop 5G capabilities across the UK is unified.

A good digital infrastructure is an important part of any future industrial strategy; sectors across the whole of the economy are expected to make use of new 5G technologies and applications, including transport sectors financial services and retail.

In the foreword of the report Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, explain: “We want to enjoy the benefits of new 5G networks early on: faster, more reliable connections; new, valuable services from connected cars to smart factories; and more high-paid, high-skilled jobs.”

To read the report in full, please visit here.

ENTERPRISE FELLOWSHIPS AWARDED

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub has awarded Enterprise Fellowships to 12 UK researchers to help them turn their innovations into successful products and companies.

The Fellowships provide funding of up to £60,000 each and aim to help researchers get new technologies to market. As members of the Enterprise Hub, the Enterprise Fellows will be provided with a package of support that includes training and networking events, access to the Academy’s new Taylor Centre – a dedicated home for the Hub with state-of-the-art meeting and networking facilities – and business mentoring from an Academy Fellow.

The new cohort of Enterprise Fellows includes Dr Felicity de Cogan, founder of NitroPep and inventor of a coating for steel that kills bacteria on contact. The NitroPep technology uses a surface modification process that imparts nanosized ‘spikes’ that insert into the bacteria and pop the cells. Developed for use in hospitals, the technology will reduce bacteria on surfaces and prevent cross contamination between patients, helping to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

Another new Enterprise Fellow, Dr Enass Abo-Hamed, CEO at H2GO Power, invented a clean, efficient and affordable hydrogen-storage solution made from innovative smart nanomaterials. She hopes that the battery will help some of the 1.2 billion people in the developing world who do not have access to a reliable power supply for cooking, lighting, studying or medical treatment.

The 2017 Enterprise Fellows are the fourth cohort of engineers to receive support from the Enterprise Hub since it was established in 2013, following in the footsteps of alumni who, between them, have established 45 startup companies, generated 150 jobs and raised over £30 million in follow-on funding.

Follow the Enterprise Hub on Twitter @RAEng_Hub

Enterprise hub cohortThe 12 inventors who were awarded Enterprise Fellowships in 2017