Inspiring the next generation of Engineers

Outreach event at the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Lecture

The Engineering Science Thom building was a hive of activity at lunchtime on Monday 14 May 2018 during an outreach event aimed at inspiring school pupils aged 15-17.

Year 10 to 12 pupils from schools around the country were busy interviewing 4th year undergraduates on their project presentations, ranging from assessing Stargardt disease using images, to submarine pipelines, during the 44th Maurice Lubbock Memorial Lecture day.

The schools’ involvement is part of the Department of Engineering Science’s outreach activity.

Talking to leading engineering experts

In the morning the secondary school students had the opportunity to talk to Professor Timothy Leighton from the University of Southampton, the keynote speaker for the day and an expert on the use of bubbles in medicine, tracking atmospheric carbon in the ocean and mitigating the ‘antibiotic apocalypse’ (which by 2050 is predicted to cause more deaths than cancer).

Experiencing undergraduate life

Later the school pupils would vote for the best poster, mirroring the activity elsewhere in the building where judges from industry and Alumni chose winners for 8 different categories.

Viewing the 4th year project posters, 15 year old Elinor from state school Elthorne Park High in London gave top marks to the ‘Smart Mouthguard’ poster by Helen Bridgman – which went on to win the IBEX Industrial Brushes prize for best mechanical engineering exhibit.

Elinor became interested in civil engineering as a career after watching a film of an engineer building bridges in the rainforest. She wants to use engineering to help people and make their lives easier and has already got to the final of the Talent2030 National Engineering Competition for Girls with a project around hurricane-proof buildings.

Visiting Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, she said, was useful in seeing what actually goes on in an engineering degree and understanding the variety of subjects that can be studied.

Oliver, from St Edward’s School in Oxford was hoping his first time in a university Engineering Department would help him decide whether his hobby building computers and love for Design & Technology should develop into a career in engineering.

Undergraduates share their engineering inspiration

After interviewing the undergraduates, the school pupils had the opportunity to listen to more undergraduates give mini-lectures about what inspired them in Engineering, or projects they are working on.

1st year undergraduate Holly told them about Ocean Cleanup, an engineering-led project to rid the world’s oceans of plastic pollution. She said she wanted to show the broadness of the engineering field which might not otherwise occur to students, and how engineering can be applied to real-world problems facing their generation.

4th year Engineering student Andrew Hyslop talked about the opportunities for engineers to help develop aircraft and spacecraft, and demonstrated how a 3D printed aircraft model was used in wind tunnels to test performance of its shape and design.