IMechE release new report on engineering education

According to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), a major rethink about the role of schools and colleges is needed to promote engineering.

Supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the IMechE’s report 'Big Ideas: the future of engineering in schools' represents the view of leading engineering education experts and key stakeholders such as employers, parents and pupils.

The key long-term goals of the report are:

  1. Promote engineering as a people-focused, problem-solving, socially beneficial discipline.
  2. Work to enhance the presence of engineering and the ‘made world’ at all stages from primary level upwards.
  3. Ensure that apprenticeships and other technical pathways not only deliver high quality technicians but also enable individuals to progress to the highest levels of engineering.
  4. Broaden routes into engineering degree courses by promoting more flexible entry requirements.
  5. Maintain a broad curriculum for all young people up to the age of 18.
  6. Shift the emphasis in STEM teaching towards problem-based, contextualised learning.
  7. Nurture engineering ways of thinking in all young people.
  8. Create more spaces and opportunities for young people to design and make things particularly by working collaboratively in interdisciplinary groups.
  9. Use Design and Technology as a platform for integrating STEM and creative design and for raising the profile of engineering in schools.
  10. Change the structure of schools education to embed engineering explicitly at all levels.

The report proposes that pupils should be explicitly taught about engineering and the manufactured world as part of existing lessons from primary level upwards. The report also calls for maintaining a broad curriculum for all until the age of 18 and that we should broaden routes into engineering by promoting flexible entry requirements for engineering degree courses. The report also makes seven key recommendations that will be the foundation for meeting these longer-term goals including the need for a unified voice from engineering institutions on issues such as a broader curriculum, the need for Government to support teachers in gaining a greater understanding of engineering careers and for Government to ensure that high quality technical training routes will be included in performance measures for colleges and schools.

Peter Finegold, Head of Education and Skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and lead author of the report, said:

“We have an engineering skills shortfall at a time where technology looks set to increase its dominance over much of our lives. Our schools need to adjust to this reality, both by increasing the number and breadth of young people choosing engineering careers, and by empowering those who do not. We need a step-change in the way we talk about engineering in schools and colleges.”

You can read the IMechE’s full report in our online collection.

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