Engineering’s poor image is putting students off

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Would-be engineers are being discouraged by the idea that the profession is dull and stifled by rules, according to the Institution for Structural Engineers.

Recent estimates suggest at least an additional 10,000 engineers are required every year to keep up with demand in the UK alone. In addition, an increasing proportion of students studying engineering in British universities are from overseas, with weakness in maths and science subjects being identified as a barrier to UK students.

Chris Wise of Expedition Engineering, who worked to create the London 2012 Velodrome and is a member of the Institution for Structural Engineers, suggests that young engineers are being discouraged by the idea that the industry is all about regulations and compliance, instead of being driven by design and enjoyment.

"Young people may be put off engineering because they can’t see any role models,” he said. “At the moment, instead of asking young people to visualise engineering as the chance to design something fantastic and futuristic, a spaceship or a self-sustaining city, they are dragged into a world of lumpy objects whose time has passed."

Institution president Professor John Nolan commented: "Engineers are the creators of tomorrow's world. Events such as the Olympics, which take place on the world stage and entail the showcasing of purpose built structures, inspire a much needed new generation of engineers.

“London’s recent Olympic success also demonstrates the importance of engineering when it comes to global perceptions of power, competence and ability.”