Engineering firm Atkins have linked up with nine schools across London to promote careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). In Islington they have been working with Highbury Fields school. They have also offered 30 students work experience placements in their London office this year, and are expanding the scheme to over 50 students next year.

Why does Atkins devote time to promoting STEM careers?

Liam Bryant, a graduate engineer, explains that the industry faces two problems- they don’t have enough new engineers joining, and the people that do apply have been overwhelmingly white and male. The way to solve both problems at the same time is to encourage more girls and people from ethnic minorities to consider a career in engineering. Hana Shoib, now an assistant engineer, explains that students often don’t understand what engineering is. ‘When I was at school, I was never told about careers in engineering. We need to show students that engineers are just as important to society as doctors and other professionals.’

What have Atkins done to engage young students?

Christina McHugh, a graduate engineer, sees engineering as primarily revolving around communication, design, and team working. ‘It’s actually really creative, and that’s what you have to sell’. To demonstrate this, they ran an ‘egg drop challenge’ at Highbury Fields girls school, which involved students designing and creating cradles to catch eggs. This clearly inspired many students, with one commenting ‘I learned there are a lot of different types of engineering, anyone can be an engineer- women can be engineers too’. These students are often the same people that fill up the work experience placements that Atkins offers, for which they regularly receive applications over six months early.

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