The Big Assembly 2018

The Big Assembly 2018

The Tomorrow's Engineers Week 2018 Big Assembly took place on 7 November 2018 and saw almost 50,000 students from over 400 schools all take part in the same school assembly at the same time, connected by a live video stream and social media.

It featured a panel of inspiring engineers who discussed their careers and the positive impact engineering has on the issues young people care about most. Watch the video below.

 

 

The .mp4 file can be downloaded here.

 

You can also read the transcript of the 2018 Q&A.

 

We had loads of questions about engineering careers during the Tomorrow's Engineers Week 2018 Big Assembly online Q&A - we and the panellists answered the questions and you can read all the responses on our transcript here:

 

Our_Lady_QoP

What age were you when you realised what an engineer does?

 

Hannah:

Personally I had no idea until I started looking into job prospects at the age of 18 – I knew what an engineer did broadly but not what each specific type did.


Nardia: 

Prior to 12/13 I thought an engineer just built things. Then I started to ask my science teacher questions to understand more. It quickly became apparent that different engineers do very different things. Some design, some build and others research. One thing all engineers have in common is that we are all creative and problem solvers. 


Anneka:

As my father is an electronics engineer, I knew growing up already what an engineer did as I visited him at work in his factory and saw all the electronic components being designed and made. Later when I was in college I started to learn more about other disciplines of engineering whilst researching on the internet what type of degree I wanted to study.


Ozak:

I was 10 years old.


Simon:

Probably around 12-13, but I’m still learning about the different types of engineering even today. I learnt more about the types whilst looking at what I wanted to study.

   

St_Andrews_Y10

Is your job what you expected it would be? If different, then how is it different?

 

 

Hannah:

Difficult one to answer but I would say both yes and no – I expected it to be a lot of problem solving, working in a team and working through issues logically. However, it was also different as I didn’t expect it be so varied – every project is different which means the way you approach it can also be vastly different. I also wasn’t expecting it be so flexible and have such a good work life balance whilst still doing a job.

 

Nardia:

My job is different from what I expected it to be. I work in a large team and communicate with different types of Engineers and get the opportunity to be in the office some weeks and down old tunnels the next.

 

Anneka:

Prior to working I really had no experience or expectation of what to expect! All I wanted to do was just work in an industry that helped a cause I was passionate about (clean energy). All jobs are different, my first job as an Energy Consultant required a lot more customer interaction, thinking on your feet at site and project management skills than I had expected, it was not 100% engineering as I had perhaps assumed. This was great though as it helped me develop soft skills which I have found very useful for other jobs and life.

 

Ozak:

No, my job is not what I expected it would be. I had little knowledge of the building services engineering industry prior to joining and it’s been one learning experience after the other since I joined. We spend on average 90% of our lives in buildings and yet we give the engineering behind and within it very little thought on a daily basis.

 

Simon:

My job is much more challenging than I expected, but it is very rewarding and I love meeting and helping different people.

   

Y_Tee

If you could have taken more of a specific type of class in college what would you have taken?

 

 

Hannah:

To be a software engineer there is no real specific courses you need – there are people I work with who have everything from Art and PE to Maths and Physics. However, if you want to improve you changes of getting into the industry, I would say choose subjects which require logical thinking.

 

Nardia: 

I undertook A-Levels in Maths, Physics, Fine Art and French. I went on to study Civil Engineering. If you like keeping up with current events, find relevant workshops or events you can attend i.e. The Big Bang Fair. 

 

Anneka:

It would have been good to learn more about the costs associated with engineering projects and business management. I found I had to learn a lot of this on the job when I started working.

 

Ozak: 

Coding and programming classes. The future is digital.

   

WarwickPrepSchool

Who or what inspired you to get into engineering and how old were you? – Caitlin

 

 

Anneka:

When I was about 13 years old I learnt about global warming and decided I wanted a career where I could help tackle this issue. Whilst in college I then researched about university degrees and learnt more about engineering. I was interested to study engineering I have an interest in practical science and I thought it would be really cool to see something I had made being used to help people or the environment!

 

Ozak:

Experiencing regular power cuts inspired me into engineering. My mum and dad encouraged me to stay in engineering. I was in my early teens when I made this decision.

 

Simon:

The flooding of my parents’ house back in 2007 kick started my interest in engineering. I wanted to help prevent anyone else going through the upheaval, expense and stress. Engineering was the perfect way to do this.

   

St_Chads_Surrey

Question for Dave: Do you see yourself as an entertainer or engineer?

 

   

WarwickPrepSchool

Have you ever asked for help in your job? – Rosetta

 

 

Hannah:

Of course – everyone around me also asks for help in their job! In software engineering and development, Google is your best friend, so even if you don’t want to ask for help from your colleagues, you can always try to find the answers online. The chances are somebody has already tried to do a similar thing before.

Back to asking for help – it is absolutely fine to ask for help providing you have tried to find an answer for yourself before asking.

   

Ben_@_Stafford_College

How do you work with other professions like construction workers to make your engineering ideas happen?

 

 

Nardia:

I work closely with the contractor to ensure the tunnel we are designing is buildable. We produce a drawing and the contractor (construction worker) will review the drawings to see if it can be constructed.

   

Lily_white_Croydon

What is your favourite project that you have worked on as an engineer?

 

 

Nardia:

My favourite has been the Thames Tideway Tunnel & Bond Street Station upgrade.

   

Lakelands_Academy

How will Brexit impact engineering in the UK?

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers:

It's hard to know at this stage as the impact on the engineering sector will depend on many factors, including the arrangements for movement of goods, services, labour, etc. The UK already faces a serious engineering skills crisis, which could get worse if access to the European engineering workforce becomes more restricted.

   

KEVIHS

 

How significant is the predicted engineer shortage that we expect in the future?

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers:

At the moment the UK needs 203,000 people with engineering skills each year. The shortfall is 59,000 engineers. This has a significant impact on industry and the economy but means there are lots of opportunities for people with engineering skills.

   

Little_Stems

This is wonderful, just wondering if you have any advice about bringing engineering to life at primary schools?

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers:

Our suggestions for anyone looking to promote engineering in primary school are:

Get in touch with Primary Engineer: www.primaryengineer.com

Go to (or run your own) Big Bang Fair: www.thebigbangfair.co.uk

Set up a STEM Club www.stem.org.uk/STEM-clubs

Order/download Tomorrow’s Engineers postcards (with discussion points). These are suitable for Year 6.

Put up a '10 great reasons to become a scientist or engineer' poster in your classroom.

Look for lesson plans on STEM Learning: www.stem.org.uk/resources

Other great sites include:

www.codeclub.org.uk

www.etrust.org.uk/first-edition/first-editions-STEM-family-challenge-events

www.techagekids.com

www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk/resources.html

   

R_Grant

 

Where do you go if you're interested in becoming an engineer? I'm currently in Year 8.

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers:

Browse our website! It's filled with really useful information about the different types of engineering, different ways to become an engineer and lots from real engineers like the ones you saw in the Big Assembly. You can even select the things you're interested in and see what engineers are doing in that area with the Career Finder.

   

Josh_T

 

What work experience can I do if I want to be an engineer of the future?

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers:

Work experience helps you understand what the world of work is like. It can be a useful opportunity to experience a career that you are considering going into in the future, and you may even make some useful connections! Family members, neighbours, relatives, friends, careers advisers, STEM ambassadors, youth workers and teachers may be able to put you in touch with individuals or companies that can offer you work experience. You could also target local employers using an online business directory, and send an initial email enquiring about work experience opportunities. Another great way to meet employers is through The Big Bang Fair or Big Bang Near Me

Speak to the Careers Coordinator in your school about local companies offering work experience as many will have programmes you can apply to.

Volunteering offers another opportunity to build up useful work skills and experience, and it looks great on your CV and job applications – have a look at https://vinspired.com/ 

Another way to gain experience is through engineering taster days and residential courses.

   

Miss_Davis_class

Are internships important for an engineering student?

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers: 

Internships – along with residential courses and taster days – can be useful in helping you explore an engineering discipline or industry, as well as gaining experience for your CV and making contacts. However, you can still be able to progress without an internship. Students can search for internships on these websites:

www.gradcracker.com

www.studentladder.co.uk

www.ratemyplacement.co.uk

You could also check out these booklets:

Engineering at university

From idea to career: explore 12 areas of engineering

   

Mike_Harris_A8

What do you think is going to become the biggest challenge for engineers in the future?

 

Hannah:

For Software Engineers like me, I think the biggest challenge will be providing software which keeps up with current technology (for example now using fingerprints, facial recognition, etc.) but still maintain the high levels of security which people expect when doing things with their computers. In some industries such as banking where I work, this will be extremely hard as security is such a high priority but yet people want more smart features in their banking.

 

Nardia:

Keeping up with change. This can be anything from climate change to new technology, but as I have said engineers are problem solvers and by default love a challenge. Cities are getting more congested which means more underground infrastructure which presents a big challenge.

 

Anneka:

Keeping up to date with the progression of technology. For example, as artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, this could create new jobs and skills that need to be filled and learnt by future engineers. I think this could be exciting rather than challenging though.

 

Ozak:

Keeping pace with technological advancements is the biggest challenge I foresee for engineers in the future.

 

Simon:

Climate change without a doubt will be the biggest challenge. People will look to engineers to come up with solutions to huge problems. 

   

Q.E.C.

 

How do the principles of science and mathematics apply to your everyday tasks?

 

 

Hannah:

For me in my field, the only real link to software development and engineering is the theory behind maths and science. By this, I mean that you have good logical thinking and progress using a methodical approach which can be followed by others and explained well.

 

Nardia:

I calculate the vertical and horizontal ground movements (how much the ground moves) as a result of the construction of a new tunnel. But I also put together programme planning condition surveys which involves communication and people management (if you’re good with people you’ll be great at that). I complete visual condition surveys of existing tunnels taking notes of any defects (problems/damage). Maths does play a part in some of my tasks, but not all!

 

Anneka:

Currently as a researcher in clean heating technology, I use a lot of physics (in particular heat transfer science), and maths to use equations to find solutions. I also use maths to process data and results so that I can translate my findings to the public.

 

Ozak:

Understanding coordinate systems, bearings and orientation from maths helps me in my 3D designs of building.

Electricity and power principles in science, and areas in maths help me estimate how much power a building will require to operate.

 

Simon:

I use maths daily to consider data or specifying a suitable flood defence scheme. It is actually much more relevant than I though. Colleagues often ask me maths related questions, such as how to calculate friction loss in pipes.

 

Dave: 

I use the basic principles of maths almost every second, whether it be working out the steel we need or drawing on CAD. I didn't pay enough attention at school to things like Pythagoras because I was like "I'm never going to need this" but now I use it all the time.

   

Mr_White's_Y8

How important is understanding business to being successful as an engineer?

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers:

Engineering is about using your imagination and your practical skills to solve problems. Whilst business knowledge is undoubtedly helpful for any industry, it usually comes with experience. It's more important for an engineer to be able to apply the science, maths and design & tech skills they have learned, to come up with ideas and be able to work with others to create something that is reliable, efficient, well-designed and solution focused – whether that’s an app, a new way of generating power or a spaceship.

   

Lowton_HS

What are the challenges of being an engineer in 2018?

 

 

Hannah:

There are many challenges to being an engineer in 2018, one of the main ones is using new technologies but reducing the security risks at the same time. People want smarter software which is also more secure which is difficult to achieve.

 

Anneka:

In my field, I think energy research engineers have a challenge where the UK needs to achieve an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions targets relative to 1990 by 2050. This will require a lot of work from all disciplines and sectors, not just engineering, and government. A challenge is being able to communicate your engineering work to others so that it is understandable to those from a different discipline which is important. Whilst this is a challenge, I see this as an exciting time to be in the clean energy sector as there will be many changes as we transition to a low carbon future.

 

Ozak: 

Constant changes within the sector increases the challenge of staying up to date.

Also, misconceptions most of the general public still have about who an engineer is in 2018 is a challenge.

   

Lowton_HS

Do you think we will always need engineers?

 

 

Tomorrow's Engineers:

Yes! While many of the jobs engineers will be doing in the future don't exist today, things like the focus on digital and automation, smart homes and renewable energy, space exploration and AI, we're confident engineers are here to stay!

   

Mr_C@Trinity

What is easier / better? Doing an apprenticeship degree or following a traditional university route?

 

 

Workpays:

Both routes have their benefits, it is down to personal choice as to what will work best for you.

Apprenticeships allow you to earn money, combining on-the-job training with study. Apprenticeships are available at different levels, higher and degree level apprenticeships tend to incorporate university degrees.
Read more about apprenticeships here

Degree courses (BEng) at university normally last for 3/4 years and Masters (MEng) for 4/5. Some courses include a year in industry or a year abroad. The additional experience this provides can be highly beneficial when seeking employment.
Read more about the university route here