Alan Williams, ICE Merseyside Chair and Rebecca King, School Engagement and Outreach Lead, brought inclusive family fun sessions to families across Liverpool, in the world-famous Central Library.
It's well documented that within the civil engineering profession there's a growing skills gap in the future talent pipeline.
While great work is being done by businesses and educational establishments to improve the future prospects of the industry, including Tomorrow’s Engineers week, there's still often a lack of understanding as to what civil engineers do.
This uncertainty has manifested itself through not only the disparity of careers advice in schools but through parents’ uncertainty of the opportunities and career paths available for their children in the sector.
A fun, family event to promote civil engineering
ICE actively connects people and information together to instigate change through various mediums and audiences, particularly non-engineering groups.
Through these best practice examples, and building on the legacy of ICE200, the ICE Merseyside Committee recognised that there was a local opportunity to encourage families to engage in a fun, educational event to promote civil engineering.
The venue, the architecturally striking Central Library in Liverpool City Centre, provided the perfect environment to encourage collaborative learning and discovery.
Aimed at young people and their families, aged 6-14 years old, we aimed to inspire and raise awareness, accessible to all, regardless of financial or social mobility.
There were a variety of activities planned to suit a range of ages and abilities, which included giving the children an insight into cutting-edge industry technology, such as utilising drones to survey sites, and submerging themselves into a virtual reality environment to see real-life projects such as Keele University’s new building, a project Curtins, a leading civil and structural consultancy, is currently involved in.
Sustainability leads the agenda
How we treat the environment and create sustainability is top of the current and developing social agenda.
Children and parents engaged in discussion and were tasked by professionals to consider how important civil engineering is in developing coastal defences, with the theory supported by a water challenge which brought out everyone’s competitive edge!
With structures being a core part of engineering and traditionally what the general public recognise the industry by, there was a tallest tower challenge which required the children to create and build a design which had to hold the weight of a golf ball.
With guided Lego-building encouraging creativity to create buildings and bridges, as well as an engineering colouring-in station for all ages, there was something for everyone.
Feedback overall from parents said the event gave their children a, “great understanding of the industry” and that it was an, “excellent opportunity to see what civil engineering involves.”
Others said that "it has shown them the vast variety of career pathways you can follow within civil engineering.”.
There was also feedback made by parents about the accessibility of the event: “It was wonderful to see an inclusive and accessible environment for both my children with autism”.
It was refreshing to see such a diverse group who engaged with the committee and volunteers across the day, with some parents returning with their children for a second session!
With over 120 children and parents participating in the event, there was plenty of young talent in the room. It was also reassuring to see a strong number of young girls attending and taking a keen interest in civil engineering as a future career.
By creating an open and collaborative environment, we hope that our Civil Engineering Family Fun day created a buzz around the sector, highlighting the innovative and satisfying work of an engineer to young people and their parents alike.
Given its success, we are looking to develop ideas for a bigger and, who knows, better event next year!