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The Centenary Campaign: Raising future engineers

20 February 2014

Thanks to alumni donations to our Centenary Campaign, the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering (MVSE) is helping tackle a national skills shortage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and careers.

Ask most state school children in the UK if they would consider studying engineering at degree level, or enter a high tech profession, and they’re likely to say ‘no’.  Especially girls. Awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects is disturbingly low, and fewer and fewer students are applying for degrees in these subjects. So few, that in the fields of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, high tech industries are on the verge of a skills shortage. 

However, thanks to alumni donations to our Centenary Campaign, the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering (MVSE) at the University of Bristol is helping tackle this shortage. Undergraduate students, acting as STEM ambassadors, are mentoring children, parents and teachers, and have organised a calendar of local and national events to inspire the next generation of high-tech industry professionals. 

The results are encouraging. Last year, applications to study at MVSE rose by 30 per cent. And at our largest and most accessible event, DigiMakers, children told us that they would definitely consider a future career in STEM subjects.

The key to this success? Our undergraduates. We now have more than 100 student STEM ambassadors working with young people and their parents in schools and community organisations to bring STEM careers alive. They partner with industry to set up national competitions for school children, like the design challenge Go4SeT, and provide workshops and tools to help ICT teachers with the new curriculum. All this experience helps our students develop their communication and training skills too.

To drive this inspiring work forward, we want to secure funding for the Outreach Manager post for at least three more years. Since we created the post, more people than ever have attended our outreach events - for every one person who attended an event in 2011, 17 more are now coming along. Even better, they're returning again and again. By securing the Outreach Manger post in the future, Bristol will continue to inspire young people and shape the world we live in.