Inspiring the next generation of engineers during INWED19

At the Rochester Bridge Trust we are dedicated to inspiring as many young people as possible to become civil engineers. One of the ways we do that is by taking part in events – such as International Women In Engineering Day 2019 (INWED19).

Taking place on 23rd June each year, this is a great opportunity to reach out to what was until fairly recently quite an overlooked half of the population when it comes to the subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Not wanting to be guilty of a similar crime by overlooking boys, the Trust took part in two events for INWED. One was an engineering careers event at a girls school and the other was a free cinema screening of the film Hidden Figures, which was open to all young people.

The aim of both events was to show all young people – that with enough determination – it really is possible to reach for the stars if you follow a career in engineering.

Education Officer Claire Saunders explained: “We are already facing a major shortage of engineers, so it’s really important to us to inspire as many young people as possible to take an interest in the STEM subjects. By celebrating the opportunities and treating all young people equally, we hope to break down the stereotypes associated with what can be a very enjoyable and rewarding career.”

The film screening was a great success, with girls and boys from a range of backgrounds and experiences coming along. Telling the story of the African-American women behind the space race, Hidden Figures is an inspirational story and a good way to show engineering in action.

A few days later the engineering careers event took place at a St Catherine’s Girls School in Bexleyheath. This involved approximately 140 Year 9 pupils attending workshops and talks presented by a range of engineering organisations, including Thames Water, the Army, and us.

Education Officer Caroline Chisholm said: “As well as giving a presentation about the work of a civil engineer, we put the girls to the test, challenging them to build their own bridges from various materials. Hands-on activities can be a great way of helping people to understand the concepts of engineering and the groups really stepped up to the challenge. I’m sure we met many future civil engineers during the day.”

The hands-on activities included cantilever and Leonardo da Vinci bridges, which encouraged participants to consider the impact of forces on different structures.

You can view and download our free-to-access engineering education materials here.

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