Is engineering boring?

When Business Secretary Vince Cable's recently expressed shock that that 49% of seven to 11 year-olds think it would be boring to be an engineer, it is tempting to think he may have been the only one in the room who was at all surprised.
Can the poor image of the profession that has been allowed to seep through to our media and educational establishments really come as a surprise to anyone? Indeed, some may have been surprised the figure was that low.

There is no point in me iterating all the reasons why this perception is wrong, of course. I would be preaching to the converted and going over old ground. However, it is worth pointing out that at least part of the problem is semantic in origin. In general parlance, 'engineer' as a term has come to mean anything from a washing machine repairman to the someone who puts in a telephone line. So it seems fair to wonder what these children thought was meant by the term when they decided it was a boring thing to do for a living?

Perhaps engineers themselves are to some extent to blame for this problem? After all, ask yourself how you may have represented what you do to others over the years? Have you perhaps failed to give as positive an impression of engineering as you might have done?

I suppose one thing Mr Cable's surprise may achieve is to help him understand the scale of the challenge facing his Government in changing the image of engineering. After all, the Coalition Government has taken a number of positive steps in relation to manufacturing, engineering and vocational education since it came to power. However, while Eureka has generally been supportive of these actions, it is perhaps a little too much to hope that they will have been able to undo in a few months the damage that several decades of neglect have done.

Author
Paul Fanning

This material is protected by MA Business copyright
See Terms and Conditions.
One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not.
For multiple copies contact the sales team.

 

Supporting Information
Do you have any comments about this article?
Good morning Paul



With reference to your "shocking" editorial that 49% of kids find engineering boring, what about the other side of the coin - that 51% DON'T find it boring?



It would be nice to have a positive spin now and then, even though it seems that the media only like doom and gloom predictions.



Kind Regards

John Moran


Comment John Moran, 24/02/2011
Good morning Paul



With reference to your "shocking" editorial that 49% of kids find engineering boring, what about the other side of the coin - that 51% DON'T find it boring?



It would be nice to have a positive spin now and then, even though it seems that the media only like doom and gloom predictions.



Kind Regards

John Moran


Comment John Moran, 24/02/2011
The problem is summed up in the third paragraph - the misuse of the word "engineer"! Doctors would not call themselves nurses as nurses would not call themselves doctors!So why do mechanics, technicians, engineering workers, even some labourers call themselves engineers? It's because WE have allowed this to take place! The structure is quite well defined - an engineering National Certificate - Technician. A Higher National Certificate -Engineering Techmician. An engineering degree - an Engineer. Then onward to chartered engineer if selected through an appropriate Institute.
Further to the above, whatever happened to "Technical Schools" and even "Building Schools" where students could get hands on experience and thereby, maybe, find that they have an aptitude (or not) for various tasks? Maybe we should bring back aptitude and IQ tests so that children knew were they stood at a relatively eary age. Better still, let's bring Robot War's into schools where the whole class could be involved, some building the robot, others doing the calculations as necessary, more logging data, recording and documenting the process, I could go on. Imagine a situation were schools challenged other schools in Robot Wars building up a league finalising in an all England Schools Champion! Maths, science, engineering, english etc etc all being required to succeed. From this WILL emerge talents that probably would not have been revealed normally but it must be an ALL student input NOT talented teachers doing all the work. This would probably encourage more male engineers to take up teaching science as these are definitely short in ALL schools thereby solving yet another problem, along with the apparent lack of respect for engineering!


Comment Bill Galvin, 22/02/2011
Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Your comments/feedback may be edited prior to publishing. Not all entries will be published.
Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

© MA Business Ltd (a Mark Allen Group Company) 2021