A career in electronics, making sci-fi a reality

The UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF) has launched a campaign to show students why a career in electronics is worth studying for.

'Put simply, a career in electronics is a career that will help create our future. The world that we live in is constantly evolving and technology is at the heart of this change. Only a generation ago you were lucky if your family had a phone in their home. Now, everyone has a ‘smart’ phone capable of incredible things, containing highly complex processors, advanced communications and packed with electronics. Exciting developments in electronics mean we can develop innovative products and help transform the way we live; from health care and medicine to entertainment. In the future, we will see ‘smart’ cities with transportation, energy consumption, security and water use all improved through electronics.'

What type of career could I have in electronics?

Electronics careers span a wide range of industries. You could be working in communications, medical industries, defence, manufacturing, scientific research, the list is endless and ever increasing. You might have heard the phrase “we are preparing students for careers that don’t even exist yet” – electronics is preparing students for a world that exists in films. One student currently studying electronics told me recently that “the idea that I could be working on a project that is currently only science fiction is just awesome!"

Dr Will Whittow (@WillWhittow) from Loughborough University is one of the UKESF’s partners and an avid electronics and engineering tweeter. We asked him to describe why electronics is the career to aim for:

“Close your eyes for a second and imagine the world in 2030, 2040 or even 2050 – has it stayed the same? Or do you see driverless electric cars; renewable energy powering our lives; intelligent transport; connected sensors forming the Internet of Things; and healthcare systems monitoring and supporting people in their own homes? Do you expect to be using the same smart phone in 2030? What will your phone be capable of in 2050? The possibilities are endless.”

What should students study to get into electronics?

Traditionally, to study electronics and engineering at university, you needed mathematics and physics A levels. However,  universities are increasingly taking a more flexible approach as they want to attract the very best candidates, from across the genders (we know that only around 21% of physics A level students are female) and from all backgrounds. Many universities now ask that applicants have A levels in mathematics and at least one science subject of any discipline. Lots of universities offer a foundation year for students who do not have a mathematics A level. 

To help explain what a career in electronics involves to your students, the UK Electronics Skills Foundation has produced a number of great resources:

For your classroom, here are two posters that show reasons why electronics is a good career choice for the future.

The UKESF have produced case studies, showing the stories of two young people working in electronics.

To help your students understand more about the industry, take a look at these links that show electronics students answering questions on:

Interested in learning more about electronics? Why not take a look at the STEM Insight programme? STEM Insight supports teachers to take part in week long placements with STEM employers. Visit the webpage to find out how you can create your own placement with an electronics employer, and find out first-hand about the careers available in the industry.

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