Great wall of engineering inspires visitors at Birmingham New Street

On 11 March the University of Birmingham and ICE STEM ambassadors distributed 1560 free copies of a special Engineering Colouring Book to children and adults who added their touches to a giant 12 x 1.6 m colouring page on display on the concourse at Birmingham New Street station.

Jon Wood, organiser with Jo Haskins and Dr Kerry Jaine Baker.
Jon Wood, organiser with Jo Haskins and Dr Kerry Jaine Baker.
Anna, structural engineer with free colouring book
Anna, structural engineer with free colouring book

The colouring book, a collection of 17 different designs by five different illustrators showcasing the wonder of engineering roles and careers, has been designed to introduce engineering and computing careers to people of all ages in a fun way. The importance of engineering and computing is often not known, or misunderstood, yet they are the subjects and areas that enable us to have safer, better, longer and more fun lives.

Engineers and computer scientists mix creativity with scientific knowledge and problem solving skills to provide solutions for problems and issues faced by our modern lives. Whether it's finding the best materials for replacement knee joints, designing earthquake proof buildings or writing code and algorithms for cyber security, engineers have a significant impact on society.

When Jon Wood, Byrne Outreach Officer from the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham learned about the colouring book, an exciting collaboration between the BA (Hons) Illustration students at Leeds College of Art and the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds, he was determined to bring it to the Midlands.

Jo Haskins, Project Manager from Turner & Townsend and, Chair of ICE West Midlands Education and Inspiration Group worked with Jon, staff at Network Rail, and Dr Kerry Jaine Baker from the University of Leeds to make the event happen.

Jon Wood, from University of Birmingham said:

"Science and engineering are for everyone; no matter what age, gender or background. We want to inspire all children to see the future as something they designed and built. If we appeal to the sense of wonder of those sharing our day, we will all feel inspired. This will be a wonderful opportunity for researchers from the College of Engineering and Physical Science at the University of Birmingham to share their stories and learn from all those experiencing the world they engineer."

Youngsters enjoying colouring in
Youngsters enjoying colouring in

Molly McKenzie, ICE regional director said:

"For millennia, engineers have turned wild dreams into reality and shaped the world around us. They create bridges that connect communities, provide us with clean water to keep us healthy, generate energy to power society and build great airports which allow us to fly around the world. They make a real, positive difference to people's everyday lives, which is why engineering is a great career to have."

"We will need many more minds engaged in engineering to help solve tomorrow's problems. Today's teenagers will work in a radically different world, one where they will have to manage the repercussions of climate change and accommodate much larger urban populations."

"The colouring activity at the multi award-winning Birmingham New Street station - itself a fantastic feat of engineering - will help us to connect with young people and their parents and hopefully spark their interest in the wonderful world of engineering, so that they may consider becoming the engineers of the future."

Melissa Oum, chemical engineer
Melissa Oum, chemical engineer

Dr Kerry Jaine Baker, creator of the Engineering Colouring Book and the Engineering Colouring Wall said:

"The colouring book has been designed to showcase the breadth and importance of engineering careers to people of all ages in a fun way. Using the colouring book concept, children and parents can learn about engineering while putting their creativity into practice – a very important skill for all engineers."

ICE West Midlands is always looking for volunteers to help us with activities such as this one.

If you are interested in becoming a STEM ambassador contact ice.westmidlands@ice.org.uk for further information or visit www.stemnet.org.uk/ambassadors

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