23 year old Joanna Anderson is traffic signals specialist in the highways design and management team at civil engineering firm Mouchel, and apprentice to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North West Chair Gareth Scott - who describes her as someone with “infectious enthusiasm who eats, sleeps and breathes civil engineering”. Outside of work, Joanna teaches guitar and music theory and regularly performs comedy songs at The Spare Rib shows in Liverpool.
Joanna joined forces with ICE on the song, in the hope that engaging with young people in a more creative, fun way would pique their interest in engineering as a career, and bust outdated perceptions about who civil engineers are. It is hoped the song will go viral during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, a campaign which aims to shine a light on engineering careers in a way that young people, their parents and their teachers may have never considered before - showcasing real engineers and real engineering. In the song –sung to a film featuring images of worldwide civil engineering projects, civil engineers and budding civil engineers - she sings:
“Have you thought about when school is done what you might like to be?
There’s a big world of careers with lots of possibility
It might seem like its years away, but it’s not going to be long
I want to tell you about engineering so I wrote this song
Civil engineers shape the world for you and me
They build the bridges and the roads so we can get from A to B
Engineers build the skyscrapers, large structures and our homes
They provide the power for us to use our computers and phones
Engineers make sure buildings function best where they are placed
When you throw away your rubbish engineers deal with your waste
Engineers clean the water for us to drink and cook and clean
Build drainage systems that are underground and can’t be seen
Have you ever wondered how, after you flush the loo
How the water gets all clean before it comes back to you.”
The lyrics of the catchy chorus appear on the screen so young people can sing along:
“It’s Tomorrow’s Engineers Week and this is a song for you
To tell you about the things that civil engineers do
Being an engineer’s fun, being an engineer’s cool
You can be an engineer when you grow up and leave school
There’s so many exciting options in careers
If you decide you want to be one of Tomorrow’s Engineers!”
Joanna’s song also talks about civil engineering as a career for all – not just boys. While female applications to ICE are slowly rising, with graduate numbers at 18%, women still only represent 10% of ICE’s total membership and the figure is reflective of the wider engineering community. ICE, along with industry, other engineering bodies and academia are collaborating to make engineering more accessible.
Joanna commented: “It is vital that we do more to promote engineering to boys and girls, challenging the view that a civil engineer is a man, in a hard hat, who and spends all day onsite outside. Most of us do not fit that stereotype - civil engineering offers so many diverse and fascinating roles. I didn't know about civil engineering until I was 18 and I wish I had known earlier. I work to promote engineering because I love it, I love what I do and I want others, especially young people, to know about it. I hope my song helps.”
ICE Head of Education and Inspiration, John Laverty, added: “Many young boys and girls like to build things and let their imagination run free, they are also into technology, and want to know why things are the way they are and how things work. These youngsters could well be the next generation of engineers, but they – or their parents or teachers - don’t know enough about it or hold outdated perceptions of engineering.
“If we are to deliver a new generation of talent, we must show who civil engineers are and how they shape the world around us - whether protecting us from flooding, getting us to from A to B, ensuring we have clean water or designing and building magnificent sporting venues. And we need to do this in a more light-hearted and creative fashion which appeals to young people, and works with the communication channels they use.
“Joanna’s song – and the passion she personally exudes for civil engineering - does just that. We encourage everyone to watch and share it, and join us in celebrating Tomorrow’s Engineers week.”