DMU outreach programme inspires next generation of engineers

Pupils across Great Britain are being shown the possibilities of a career in engineering by a leading expert at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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Dr Farukh Farukh, Programme Leader in Mechanical Engineering, is spearheading a programme of STEM-based activities designed to encourage pupils aged 7-18 to consider a career in engineering.

The hands-on activities allow children of all backgrounds and abilities to gain an early insight into the fundamentals of engineering, encouraging them to consider a career path they may otherwise have regarded as beyond their reach.

One activity sees pupils design and create polariscopes, which helps them to visually demonstrate stresses in transparent objects. This exercise offers practical experience of a real technique used by engineers to assess the strength of structures before putting them to use.

It shows students how engineers mitigate risk to improve quality of life under the constraints of limited resources, giving a true insight into the industry.

The programme is delivering a broad spectrum of STEM activities, so far using more than £40,000 in funding, primarily from the Institute of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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Another of the activities involves students designing, building and racing solar powered electric cars, teaching them the basics of electronic and mechanical skills. This activity will be repeated at the DMU Dubai campus in April, where pupils from various schools across UAE will compete against each other.

In a sustainable and immersive glimpse into the world of coding, the pupils use physical objects made from recycled plastic to represent different elements of programming, arranging them according to coding practice.

This approach allows the students to grasp the basics of coding in a tangible way, visualising the process without looking at a screen. This type of immersive coding aims to provide an alternative and accessible method for young people to develop their understanding of digital skills.

Another programme, iDesign, engages pupils in the process of 3D scanning and printing and demonstrates their role in product design and development. The sessions walk students through the process of using software to produce their own designs which are then printed in 3D and taken home.

The interactive workshop allows the participants to see their ideas turned into a reality through engineering processes, giving them a hands-on insight into the industry and a lasting reminder of their experience.

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Dr Farukh said: “Through this programme, we want to inspire as many people as possible to continue a STEM career pathway. There is a critical shortage of people with the necessary STEM skills in the UK, particularly in women and those from lower social-economic backgrounds.

 “To tackle this, we have reached more than 1,000 students nationally and data gathered from pupils before and after the activities show that the programme has been an overall success in opening up the industry for a new generation of aspiring engineers.”

Posted on Monday 27 March 2023

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