Engaging future engineers: pedagogy, policy & practice

Robin Clark*, Jane Andrews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


Despite being frequently misrepresented as outdated or old fashioned (IMechE, 2009, p1), engineering is increasingly called upon to deal with some of societies biggest challenges including those associated with climate, infrastructure and security. In order to meet such challenges there needs to be a supply of engineering talent able to turn its collective mind to what is required. Yet at a time when demands for engineers able to provide innovative solutions to contemporary problems is possibly at its highest, the profession is plagued by shortages and an inability to attract young people (DIUS, 2008; RAE 2008; NSF, 2009). Although the current situation appears critical, potential future shortages of engineers means that unless action is taken urgently, matters will get worse during the next 20 to 30 years. For higher education, the challenge is how to change young peoples perceptions of engineering in such a manner that it is seen as a worthwhile and rewarding career. This paper considers this challenge, looking in detail at why young people fail to view engineering positively. A theoretical framework outlining the various real-life barriers and drivers is proposed. A critical analysis of current policy and practice suggests that in order to promote engineering as a profession that young people want to enter, both pedagogic and policy grounded solutions need to be found. By bringing together pedagogy and policy within an engineering framework the paper adds to current debates in engineering education whilst providing a distinctive look at what seems to be a recurring problem.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Engineering Education Conference 2010 (EE2010)
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
EventEngineering Education 2010: Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers - Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20108 Jul 2010


ConferenceEngineering Education 2010
Abbreviated titleEE 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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