Give engineers celebrity status to inspire the next generation
Professor Brian Cox was among the judging panel for the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering who have suggested that engineers should be more celebrated than X Factor winners considering their day-to-day work affects enormous positive change across the world – the engineers that is, not the pop wannabes!
That's the message that the likes of Professor Cox and former BP boss, Lord Browne, are extolling to effect a change in engineering's ailing image that would inspire more young people to take up the profession and fill the gaping skills gap.
“The impact of science and engineering is central to our culture,” Prof Cox told the Telegraph. “It is the most important thing we do in civilisation and what engineers do genuinely affects people’s lives.
We need a cultural shift to celebrate intellectual adventuring: engineers and scientists should be celebrated more than X Factor stars are.
Lord Browne, chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize, added: “Engineering is the application of scientific principles to practical problems. It has to produce something that people either want or will want in the future.
“People think they know what engineering is but the evidence is they don’t, and in the UK the evidence is that we are very, very bad at telling them.”
Famous faces you may not have known are engineers
In a timely bid to boost engineering's appeal, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering organisers have shared a list of notable celebrities who studied the subject before achieving fame elsewhere.
Among the A-list engineering alumni is actor Ashton Kutcher, whose biochemical engineering studies clearly sparked an interest in tech start-ups. Because the Two and a Half Men star has since invested in Foursquare Skype, Airbnb, Spotify and plan.
Rocky IV hard-man, Dolph Lundgren, has a degree in chemical engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney.
Before embarking on her catwalk career, Cindy Crawford studied chemical engineering at Northwestern University. While former Desperate Housewives and Superman star, Teri Hatcher, studied mathematics and engineering at De Anza College, California.
Actor Donald Sutherland followed in his father's footsteps to study engineering and Arsenal legend, Dennis Bergkamp, studied mechanical engineering at University of Bath. Model Karlie Kloss, meanwhile, recently participated in ‘Hour of Code’ to encourage people to create their own computer programmes.
“You just have to keep reminding people that you wouldn’t have a camera without engineering; you wouldn’t have a pen without engineering to tell stories; you wouldn’t have communication without engineering. It is just a part of everything around us,” says Tim Webber, Visual FX Director at Framestore.
So there you have it, engineers are in fact rockstar celebrities. Just not as Professor Cox would like it. The challenge now is to keep our young engineers in the industry long enough for them to achieve the fame they deserve for actual engineering breakthroughs.
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