(Newcastle Journal (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) 'We need to do more to encourage young people to study maths and science' ; DR WENDY ALLEN, Principal of the new Discovery School in Newcastle, explains why she believes more must be done to encourage young people to study maths and science to boost the engineering sector - and what she is doing to make it happen
WE have been warned by Government advisers that unless we do something to address the growing lack of talented engineers entering the industry, the recovery of the UK economy will be constrained.
Key business people are calling on Government and leading educators to take immediate action to plug the ever-widening gap in the UK's engineering skills.
And manufacturers' organisation the EEF has suggested a campaign be launched to get more young people into engineering, particularly women, echoing claims by The Royal Academy of Engineering that we need at least 100,000 new STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduates every year just to maintain the status quo.
In short, it seems we all agree that unless we do something now, we will become more and more reliant upon people from overseas to fill the top science and maths-related jobs.
Here in the North East, however, I am extremely proud to say that we are leading the way in taking steps to remedy this situation.
The new Discovery School will open in the centre of Newcastle in September 2014 for students aged between 14 and 19, with the sole purpose of harnessing strengths in the STEM subjects and getting young people into engineering careers.
Designed to be more akin to work than school, we are developing a challenging curriculum under the guidance of both experienced educators and some of the region's leading engineering and science experts.
We have also been named F1 in Schools regional technical centre for the international competition that sees students design, build and operate F1 cars using the latest equipment and knowledge.
With STEM subjects central to the timetable, engineering will be at the heart of everything we do.
Where the majority of colleges only offer courses in mechanical or electrical engineering, we will provide training and knowledge in every aspect of the industry to enable our students to develop their skillsets across the board and then decide where they wish to specialise.
We believe this school will be unlike any other in the region, offering students an excellent foundation for a career in engineering, while ensuring they also study traditional curriculum subjects, such as English, humanities and modern foreign languages.
While we will be delivering traditional STEM-focused GCSEs and A- Levels, the teaching and learning will be very different.
Lessons will be practical and project-based, and relevant to the workplace, with the majority of teaching taking place in workshops and labs, rather than classrooms. Innovation will be the cornerstone of Discovery School.
Too few teenagers are studying science and we are lagging behind other countries in the number of 16 to 18-year-olds studying maths.
We need to do more to encourage young people to study maths and science to A-Level and beyond.
However, in order to achieve that, I believe we need to educate them about the thousands of exciting, highly paid careers out there in the vast sector of engineering, whether they be in the mechanical, chemical, biological or civil fields.
Engineering is far from the oily rag profession that the majority of people think it is.
If educators start to work with experts in the field, I believe we will begin to reverse the trend and produce some of the world's leading figures in the industry.
The alternative, which is to sit back and do nothing, is not an option.
It is our aim that by the time our students leave Discovery School, they will have the skills, experience, ability and confidence to apply the knowledge that employers and universities are looking for.
I'm extremely proud to be leading this innovative new free school, which will be part of the NCG group, and only hope that other educationproviders follow suit in due course.
The demand from Government and employers is there, now we just need our young people and parents to wake up to the possibilities.
To find out more about Discov-ery School, attend one of the open evenings, which are held every Wednesday in the Discovery Room on Palace Street, off George Street, in Newcastle, between 5.30pm and 7pm, or go to www.discoveryschool.
org.uk Dr Wendy Allen, Principal, Discovery School CAREER IN ENGINEERING LEADS TO GLOBAL TRAVEL FOR ADAM ELECTRICAL engineer Adam Thwaites is living the dream after returning to his native North East after a three-month stint working in Brazil.
The 21-year-old started working as an apprentice for international equipment manufacturer Liebherr at its plant in Sunderland when he left school and has seen his career go from strength to strength.
As a fully qualified electrical engineer for the global giant, which specialises in the manufacture of cranes, aircraft parts and mining, he and a colleague were sent to Sao Paulo for three months to help build an offshore crane and train locals on the job.
"I really enjoy going to work every day and would recommend engineering to young people who have an interest in designing and building things," said Adam, from Sunderland.
"I completed a four-year apprenticeship with Liebherr, which gave me all the skills and experience I needed to become a qualified and valued member of the team.
"The job is interesting and hands on. Working in Brazil was an amazing experience. As an engineer, the job opportunities and prospects for travel are immense. The world really is your oyster."
ENGINEER ROBIN IS ON COURSE FOR CAREER SUCCESS GRADUATE Robin Hiles has designs on developing a great career after he left university and got a job as a production and design engineer at Dyer Engineering.
The company specialises in precision machined, high integrity fabrications, comfortably handling repeat batches of components for diesel engines through to bespoke, large-scale fabricated structures for the oil and gas industry.
Robin, 22, is currently working in the job shop, which designs one-off jobs or small batches of equipment for clients in the hope they like what they see and then place an order.
It is Robin's job to work with customers on various design options.
If they place an order, he then takes responsibility for planning the job and making sure all the necessary materials and machinery are available.
"I feel extremely fortunate to have such a great job so soon after leaving university," said Robin.
"Already, I can see engineering is a great career choice, but there will be a lot of different paths open to me once I have the training and the know how. It's quite exciting."
Robin studied maths, physics and PE at school in his home city of Durham before going to Newcastle University to study a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
ARTIST LAURA HAS THE WORLD AT HER FINGERTIPS TALENTED 3D artist Laura Hutton has the dream job that millions of teenagers could only wish for.
The 24-year-old is a 3D environment artist at Reflections, a Ubisoft studio in Newcastle, which creates some of the world's biggest-selling computer games, including Watch Dogs, Just Dance, Driver San Francisco, and The Crew.
She combines her technical expertise and creative flair to build environments for a number of leading games for the XboxOne, Wii, PS4 and mobile devices, to name a few. From creating the landscape, trees and terrain, to designing buildings and working on the lighting, Laura's work is highly technical and enjoyed by millions of people the world over every week.
She is one of 80 artists working at Reflections and is one of 200 people employed at the Newcastle studio, which uses leading specialist software for its computer-aided games design.
"I have played on video games since I was around six and have always loved art, so I can't think of a more perfect job for me," said Laura.
"My job is very technical, so it's important to have a technical and creative mind, but it's also a lot of fun. I'm extremely fortunate to be doing this for a living and will continue updating my skillset as the technology advances.
"There is a huge skills shortage in the games industry, which is why we have so many people from all over the world working here."
MOLLIE FINDS THE RIGHT CHEMICAL REACTION AMBITIOUS Mollie Eke is developing a great career with global pharmaceutical company Piramal Healthcare after landing a job as a trainee lab analyst.
The 21-year-old from Morpeth has worked for Piramal for three years and still gets a buzz about her work as a scientist for the international business, which makes, analyses and distributes a range of drug products. Mollie has completed an HNC in chemistry and is now studying part-time for a chemistry degree at Northumbria University, both of which have been supported by Piramal.
For Mollie, whose strengths at school were maths and chemistry, it's the perfect job with plenty of scope for gaining extra qualifications and promotion.
Mollie's job entails her taking frequent swabs from the equipment and machinery on the production line and then testing them to ensure all drugs are produced in a pharmaceutical GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) environment.
"I started at Piramal when I left sixth form and haven't looked back since," said Mollie.
"Maths and chemistry were my strong points at school. Some people probably think that jobs in those subjects are very difficult or a bit dull, but that's not the case at all. You don't have to be a boffin."
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