Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 4.73M | Year: 2011
National infrastructure (NI) systems (energy, transport, water, waste and ICT) in the UK and in advanced economies globally face serious challenges. The 2009 Council for Science and Technology (CST) report on NI in the UK identified significant vulnerabilities, capacity limitations and a number of NI components nearing the end of their useful life. It also highlighted serious fragmentation in the arrangements for infrastructure provision in the UK. There is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions from infrastructure, to respond to future demographic, social and lifestyle changes and to build resilience to intensifying impacts of climate change. If this process of transforming NI is to take place efficiently, whilst also minimising the associated risks, it will need to be underpinned by a long-term, cross-sectoral approach to understanding NI performance under a range of possible futures. The systems of systems analysis that must form the basis for such a strategic approach does not yet exist - this inter-disciplinary research programme will provide it.The aim of the UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium is to develop and demonstrate a new generation of system simulation models and tools to inform analysis, planning and design of NI. The research will deal with energy, transport, water, waste and ICT systems at a national scale, developing new methods for analysing their performance, risks and interdependencies. It will provide a virtual environment in which we will test strategies for long term investment in NI and understand how alternative strategies perform with respect to policy constraints such as reliability and security of supply, cost, carbon emissions, and adaptability to demographic and climate change.The research programme is structured around four major challenges:1. How can infrastructure capacity and demand be balanced in an uncertain future? We will develop methods for modelling capacity, demand and interdependence in NI systems in a compatible way under a wide range of technological, socio-economic and climate futures. We will thereby provide the tools needed to identify robust strategies for sustainably balancing capacity and demand.2. What are the risks of infrastructure failure and how can we adapt NI to make it more resilient?We will analyse the risks of interdependent infrastructure failure by establishing network models of NI and analysing the consequences of failure for people and the economy. Information on key vulnerabilities and risks will be used to identify ways of adapting infrastructure systems to reduce risks in future.3. How do infrastructure systems evolve and interact with society and the economy? Starting with idealised simulations and working up to the national scale, we will develop new models of how infrastructure, society and the economy evolve in the long term. We will use the simulation models to demonstrate alternative long term futures for infrastructure provision and how they might be reached.4. What should the UKs strategy be for integrated provision of NI in the long term? Working with a remarkable group of project partners in government and industry, we will use our new methods to develop and test alternative strategies for Britains NI, building an evidence-based case for a transition to sustainability. We will analyse the governance arrangements necessary to ensure that this transition is realisable in practice.A Programme Grant provides the opportunity to work flexibly with key partners in government and industry to address research challenges of national importance in a sustained way over five years. Our ambition is that through development of a new generation of tools, in concert with our government and industry partners, we will enable a revolution in the strategic analysis of NI provision in the UK, whilst at the same time becoming an international landmark programme recognised for novelty, research excellence and impact.
News Article | October 28, 2016
Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK, September 01, 2016 /PressReleasePing/ -- Announces speakers and issues a call for papers Release Date: September 1st 2016 The Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) has announced its starting line-up of speakers for its second annual conference and is inviting the security community to further submit talk proposals. The conference is to be held at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London on December 6th and follows on from last year?s events at The Royal Society and Bletchley Park. The theme for this year is ?Building an Internet of Trust? and strongly aligns with IoTSF?s mission to make it safe to connect. As part of the theme IoTSF will be promoting the concept of the supply chain of trust and encourage suppliers of all denominations to consider their duty of care towards their customers. The conference has a dual track; a senior level track focused on policy, management & best practices together with a technical track looking at vulnerabilities, hacks and how they can be avoided. Speakers announced today include: Professor Ross Anderson - an accomplished academic, consultant and author/contributor to many leading edge research papers. His book ?Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems? is widely acclaimed. Professor Anderson?s keynote talk is titled ?What will Security Standards and Certification Look Like Ten Years from Now??. Martin Borrett is a Distinguished Engineer and CTO of IBM Security Europe and will be talking on the subject of Automotive Security, providing a glimpse into new methods to overcoming wicked security issues. David Alexander is Managing Consultant of the Cyber Security group in the Energy & Utilities practice within PA Consulting. His talk is titled ?Your Home Automation just Stopped Working ? Malfunction, Mistake or Malicious Intent??. Kevin Sheldrake is a penetration tester at BT working on embedded devices with an interest in cryptography. Kevin provides a hackers perspective with ?Inside our Toys ? Anatomy of an Embedded Device Test?. John Moor, Managing Director for IoTSF commented ?there continues to be a great deal of concern in the media and cynicism within industry around IoT security and related matters of safety and privacy ? and rightly so. However it?s also important to balance that concern by taking a look at what is being done, what can be done and what must be done to improve the current situation - that?s the theme of this conference. We?re delighted to announce our starting line-up today and we?ll be announcing more in due course?. IoTSF has also issued a call for papers to support the theme of the conference and has invited interested parties to submit abstract proposals to the organising committee for consideration. Details of the IoT Security Conference, talk abstracts and how to participate or register can be seen here: https://iotsecurityfoundation.org/event/iot-security-foundation-conference-2016/ [End Release] About the Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) The mission of IoTSF is to help secure the Internet of Things, in order to aid its adoption and maximise its benefits. To do this IoTSF will promote knowledge and clear best practice in appropriate security to those who specify, make and use IoT products and systems. IoTSF promotes the security values of a security first approach, fitness for purpose and resilience through operating life. IoTSF was formed as a response to existing and emerging threats in Internet of Things applications. IoTSF is an international, collaborative and vendor-neutral members? initiative, driven by the IoT eco-system and inclusive of all parties including technology providers and service beneficiaries. IoTSF is hosted by NMI, the non-profit trade association for technology, electronic systems, microelectronics and semiconductors. For more information, news and further announcements, visit the official website at www.iotsecurityfoundation.org For information on the working groups see https://iotsecurityfoundation.org/working-groups/ Press Contact John Moor firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @IoT_SF Press Contact: John Moor Managing Director Internet of Things Security Foundation Station Hill House Chippenham Wilts SN15 1EQ 01506 401210 https://www.iotsecurityfoundation.org/
News Article | February 15, 2017
Part three of our series A Day in the Life of a City takes a look at how technology is changing entertainment. It's 18:00, and our day in the smart city is almost over. The evening rush hour is generally considered to be even worse than the morning one so forget that - it's time to head for a night out. Let's begin with an app. If you are in London, Paris, New York or Berlin you could make use of CityMapper, which draws on public data to plot the best route between A and B, even offering a rain-safe route. And there are no shortage of information apps to make sure that you get the best out of your city - from specific city-based ones such as I love Beijing, which offers insights into the best places to go in the city, to Spotted by a Local, which offers tips on the best or cheapest restaurants. And if you have a specific interest, there are apps for that too, such as Guerrilla Queer, which arranges meet-ups for the LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) community in Boston and New York away from the traditional gay bars. If you are fed up with the traditional night out at the cinema, virtual reality technology is offering you a chance to feel like you are actually inside a movie. The Void (vision of infinite dimensions) wants to take VR headsets to public spaces and create theme parks around them. Its first foray is a "Ghostbusters experience" at Madame Tussauds on Times Square, New York. Visitors enter a series of Ghostbuster-inspired spaces, including a musty old hallway and a lift shaft, surrounded by digital apparitions. They wear a VR headset, a chest plate that provides haptic feedback and a backpack with a computer in it. Each virtual object in the space has a real-world counterpart, and visitors take part with up to three others, who appear as avatars next to them. Since it opened in July, it has had more than 50,000 visitors who, apart from complaining about long queues, have given largely positive feedback. It was, said Void spokeswoman Whitney Thomas, one of the first examples of "hyper-reality" entertainment. The company had been hoping to start work on a VR theme-park in Salt Lake City in October, but the land earmarked for the project is yet to be built on. Are our cities killing us with bad air? Will we ever take a jetpack to work? If the Pokemon Go craze taught us anything, it was that the digital and real worlds are going to be increasingly blended together in future entertainment, and there is no better playground than a city. Increasingly, people can take part in urban games such as Parkman Murders, a smartphone app available in Boston that tells the story of a Victorian murder in the city and invites listeners to take part in the story via a series of location-based experiences. And last year, visitors to London's financial district could join an interactive theatre piece, Adventure 1, which invited the audience to download MP3s with instructions on how to track a trader (played by an actor) around the City of London. Increasingly our smartphones are becoming an important social tool, helping us make decisions about where we eat, drink and meet. Technology can play a huge role in bringing people together, but ironically there is a huge disconnect between our increasingly tech-driven cities and its citizens. What do you know about your city, for example? Can you see any concrete examples in it of how city-instigated technology is improving your life? If the answer to this is no, then you are not alone. According to a recent survey conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, only 18% of people had heard of a smart city, 8% thought it referred to a city with a higher than average proportion of universities and colleges, while 5% thought it was a city with a strict cleaning regime. Much of that is down to the fact that technology for city authorities is often related to efficiency and making infrastructure and other systems work better. "Waste management tends not to be high on people's agenda," is how Tom Saunders, author of innovation charity Nesta's report Rethinking Smart Cities from the Ground Up, puts it. Cities are trying to engage citizens more - offering apps that allow them to report issues such as uncollected rubbish, potholes or abandoned cars. They are also hosting hackathons for tech-savvy citizens to come up with innovative people-centric tech solutions to a variety of issues. But for the foreseeable future, the tech agenda of cities and that of citizens is likely to remain poles apart. Increasingly, cities are acknowledging that their spaces need to be fun, and no city has embraced this better than Bristol. Over the years, it has given backing to a series of innovative technology and art schemes, including the annual competition Playable Cities, which calls on artists around the world to come up with novel ways to incorporate technology into cities. According to Playable Cities producer Hilary O'Shaughnessy, such projects have a valuable role to play. "Too often smart cities conversations involve white men in suits who are making decisions, but if we want to create multi-faceted cities they have to appeal to everyone," she says. Previous winner Hello Lamppost - which encouraged members of the public to leave messages on streetlights - has been replicated in other cities around the world, while the 2014 winner Shadowing - which captured a shadow of a person when they passed under a streetlight - attracted 100,000 participants. Playable Cities is now offering workshops in cities around the world, including Tokyo and Lagos, where it has set up a series of phones on buses to allow people to speak to a stranger on another bus when they are stuck in a traffic jam (traffic jams in Lagos can last for hours). Playable Cities has a serious point too, says Ms O'Shaughnessy. "With Shadowing, it started a conversation with people about what we want from the future of lighting in cities and their fears about surveillance," she says.
News Article | October 6, 2016
ALD Live! is the flagship event of the day, highlighting leading women in science and engineering in an evening of comedy, music, and general geekery, suitable for everyone over the age of 12. Taking place in the evening at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London, performers come from across science and engineering. They include Dr Sheila Kanani, formerly a planetary scientist, who now leads the work of the RAS in diversity and public engagement, and is a science comedian in her spare time. Sheila describes how women inspired her to pursue a career in science. "I feel honoured to be speaking at Ada Lovelace Day Live in 2016, the centenary of electing women as Fellows to the RAS. Both celebrations of past and present women in science and engineering are an excellent tribute to those who have forged the path to allow scientists like myself to get to where we are today. Without the strong female role models I've had I would never have thought that astrophysics was 'for me'. I hope that in speaking at the event I become a role model for future women in science and engineering, and that one day we might commemorate them in the same way!" Throughout 2016 the RAS is honouring its earliest women Fellows, their lives, and their scientific achievements, including solar physicist Annie Scott Dill Maunder, who was admitted 24 years after her first attempt; Fiammetta Wilson and A. Grace Cook, who both studied meteors, aurorae, the zodiacal light and comets; and lunar scientist Mary Adela Blagg. The Society's house journal, A&G, features many of the women in a series of articles. A&G editor Dr Sue Bowler commented: "This year the RAS has been celebrating our first women Fellows, who joined the Society 100 years ago. I've been enjoying making the acquaintance of such fascinating women – they'd fit right in among today's scientists. Just as Ada Lovelace does not match what we think of as a woman of the early nineteenth century, these women challenge traditional ideas about women at the start of the twentieth century. 'The early women Fellows made careers in writing and lecturing to the public – what we would now call outreach – and drove forward science by developing new experimental techniques and innovative mathematical analysis, all the while enjoying lively family and social lives. They were educated and determined, as befits pioneers, and they were respected by their peers." Other commemorative activities include the portraits of 20 contemporary astronomers and geophysicists; the designation of the Annie Maunder Medal for outreach; and the 'Way to the Stars', a specially commissioned play recreating the struggle of the first women astronomers for professional recognition. On ALD itself, RAS Librarian Dr Sian Prosser will run a drop-in event where visitors can see the newly rediscovered lantern slides astronomer Mary Proctor used in her public lectures. Sian comments: "Mary Proctor's mission in life was to inspire people all over the world with an understanding and appreciation of astronomy, and that sense of wonder still emerges from her books and magic lantern slides in the RAS library collection." Explore further: Study shows unexpected path for women to major in science
News Article | February 15, 2017
Nick Mabey SM ’93 wants people to think deeply about global climate change. As the CEO and co-founder of E3G, a leading environmental think tank based in London, he is an influential player in the world of environmental policy, tackling hard problems with a fine-tuned combination of technical rigor, deep realism, and creativity. “MIT gave me a practical and design-based ethos about solving problems,” he says. “It has been a well from which I have drawn directly over the course of my career.” Mabey previously worked as a senior policy advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office in London, and as the U.K.’s foreign policy lead in crafting international partnerships on clean energy. The appeal of the London ecosystem led him to select the city as the headquarters for E3G, which also has offices in Berlin, Brussels, and Washington, and operates in China and Latin America. London, Mabey says, has “the strongest concentration of public and private expertise on climate change and energy in the world.” The city draws the best in government, international media, finance, engineering, and technology, and it has a huge university base that attracts talent from all over Europe and across the globe. On Jan. 13 at the Institution of Engineering and Technology at Savoy Place in London, MIT will celebrate U.K.-based alumni and friends as part of the MIT Campaign for a Better World, which is hosting events around the world to provide a showcase for how MIT’s alumni, friends, and affiliates — people like Nick Mabey — are having a direct impact on their own corners of the world. It was curiosity and a desire to expand his horizons that landed Mabey at MIT. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Bristol University, he entered the U.K. workforce. He became interested in policy because, as he puts it, “I wanted to understand why I wasn’t allowed to build wind farms.” When he came to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mabey was thrilled by the depth of the Technology and Policy Program, which trains students to understand the bridges between technical disciplines and the politics and policies of why things happen. He describes his coursework with unabashed enthusiasm. His research focused on energy systems and decision-making under risk and uncertainty, his area of specialization ever since. “I can truly say that I have used all of the skills-based teaching that was at the heart of my program. I learned how to do policy analysis at MIT.” Mabey says the caliber of MIT gives graduates the ability to engage with ideas and analysis at a high level. “I remember running a student seminar with Noam Chomsky at one point,” he says with a laugh. “I think the confidence I gained from exposure to world-class teachers was invaluable.” And that exposure didn’t stop when he graduated. While working for the U.K. prime minister, Mabey returned to campus several times to draw on faculty expertise, and he has kept up his alumni networks and remained in touch with professors. “MIT has stayed a resource that I take with me wherever I go,” he says. Lately Mabey has been talking with friends at U.K. universities about trying to replicate his MIT experience. “We need the best tools at our disposal to take on global climate change, and one of the missing links in the London ecosystem is a place where the technical people and policy people come together in a rigorous environment to build decision making structures. It has been such an important thing for me.” And what is Mabey’s forecast for climate change issues? “Countries will remain committed to the 2015 global Paris Agreement,” he says. “On the economic and technical side, we are going to see continued movement toward clean energy solutions in the next five years. Of course,” he adds, “things are going to become more challenging on the political side. A Trump regime that tries to roll back on environmental obligations could really slow down the increase in ambition. So right now the future holds a funny mixture of positives on the clean energy side, but also potentially very high risks.” MIT itself has a crucial role to play, he says. “It’s incredibly important that institutions like MIT uphold the independence and standing of science in public debate — and not let people make climate change a nonword. It is a great comfort to know that MIT will continue to support individual students and scientists to do what they've been doing for the last 100 years and champion the value of science.” Read a related story from the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences about three more MIT alumni who have found greater London an ideal home base for their discipline- and continent-spanning work.
Burden D.J.H.,Institution of Engineering and Technology
IEEE Internet Computing | Year: 2011
Three main approaches exist for virtual world standardization: interoperability, infrastructure, and semantic markup languages. Most standards efforts to date have concentrated on virtual worlds' graphical aspects rather than their semantic content. Here, the author uses an example audio-only virtual world to reveal the advantages of defining any virtual world in semantic terms, so it can be realized in various ways - for example, by graphics or audio. Examples of semantic markup already used in conjunction with virtual worlds indicate that this approach is promising. © 2011 IEEE.
News Article | December 26, 2016
Last week’s government announcement of investment into superfast broadband under the Broadband Delivery UK programme (theguardian.com, 22 December) is welcome news for the UK economy, as there is plenty of evidence to suggest that lack of broadband coverage is preventing many businesses from operating to their full potential, particularly in rural areas. But beyond the investment headlines, we also need to see evidence of a joined-up approach to finding a long-term solution to providing universal superfast broadband, which, as well as improving 4G and 5G, will mean converging fibre broadband and local wireless infrastructure, rather than still relying in many areas on the old copper systems we have today. Ultimately, the government should invest in a gold-standard solution using fibre and wireless technology to create a future-proof broadband infrastructure that will enable the UK to become a global leader in communications networks. Professor Will Stewart Vice-president, Institution of Engineering and Technology
News Article | January 26, 2016
According to an analyst from the International Renewable Energy Agency, onshore wind has dropped in cost to the level of coal-fired production. Michael Taylor, an energy analyst and renewable energy expert at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), has recently analyzed the cost of onshore wind power, and found that it has dropped to the level of coal-fired generation — and that’s even without including the cost of health and environmental effects caused by coal. “If the environmental and health costs of fossil fuels were properly priced at realistic levels, the situation would be even more favourable for wind,” said Michael Taylor. According to the new study published by Taylor and IRENA, 1 KWh of electricity produced by an onshore wind farm could cost in the realm of €0.05, and the same amount of electricity produced by an average coal-fired plant is only €0.001 cheaper. This brings onshore wind to within spitting-distance of coal, and as Taylor hinted at, when the cost of coal’s impact on society is included — i.e., the cost of global warming on countries, health impacts, and other similar impacts — onshore wind makes a strong case for ending the day as cheaper than coal. Incidentally, gas-fired electricity generation did better than both, coming in at €0.041/KWh. However, what is most interesting from this study, is that this sudden drop in onshore wind’s cost compared to that of fossil fuels has happened so quickly, society hasn’t followed the news. “Renewable power generation technologies can now provide electricity at very competitive levels,” Taylor said. “Yet despite these facts, many of the world’s decision-makers have yet to grasp how competitive renewables have become. Often, vested interests lead to propagation of the myth of ‘costly’ renewable energy. In other cases, the change has simply come so fast, and so unexpectedly, that public information has yet to catch up.” Between 1988 and 2014, the levelized cost of onshore wind-generated electricity has dropped by 65%, thanks in large part to the growth of the industry which has allowed the economics of scale and maturation of technology to drop the cost. IRENA data provided courtesy of The Institution of Engineering and Technology Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
News Article | September 19, 2016
The Institution of Engineering and Technology has today announced the winners of its prestigious Achievement Awards which recognise individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to engineering and electronics. Dr Andy Harter, the founder and CEO of RealVNC, will receive the Faraday Medal, the most prestigious achievement IET prize, for developing and commercialising the VNC technology which enables the remote sharing of computer screens. He has grown RealVNC from a startup to an international business that works with some of the largest technology companies. The Mensforth Manufacturing Medal will be awarded to Tom Williams, the COO of Airbus, for his achievements as a world-class production engineer. Mr Williams who is currently responsible for ensuring the Airbus manufacturing supply chain can deliver its burgeoning order book of the current A380 and new generation A350XWB. Prof Alan E Willner, who has developed a way of twisting light to increase the speed and capacity of the optical fibres that are the backbone of the internet, will be awarded the JJ Thomson Medal for Electronics. Prof Jean Armstrong who invented a range of new techniques for carrying data through optical and wireless applications which improve their efficiency and quality will receive the Mountbatten Medal. Prof Armstrong is also known as a powerful advocate for women in engineering. Those receiving an Achievement Medal this year include Prof Moeness G Amin who has developed radar imaging technique which allows people to see through walls; Prof Mark Williams who applied a 3D high-resolution scanning technique to revolutionise crime investigation by the police, and Dr Michael Aldred whose work enabled Dyson to launch the first mass-market robotic vacuum cleaner. “It’s a privilege to celebrate the talent of these individuals whose work is at the leading edge of their respective fields. Their achievements not only push the boundaries of their industry but ultimately improve the way we all live and work, reinforcing the critical role that engineers play in our society.” The winners, who were nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of IET judges, are leading engineers and technicians, who will now be invited to collect their awards at a prestigious awards ceremony on 16 November. The remaining winner of the IET Volunteer Medal will be announced at the IET Achievement Awards ceremony. The Achievement Awards are part of the IET’s Achievement Awards and Scholarships programme, which this year provided over £1million in awards, prizes and scholarships to celebrate excellence and research in the sector and encourage the next generation of engineers and technicians. All IET awards seek to inspire and reward engineering excellence, from apprentices at the start of their careers through to reputable, established professional engineers and technicians. Find out more about the Achievement Awards here: www.theiet.org/achievement.
News Article | October 21, 2016
Innovation within technology and engineering is a key driver of economic growth in the UK, though the well-documented skills gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is an ongoing concern for government, business leaders and educators alike. In addition to impacting the rate of economic recovery, the STEM skills gap is equally a very real problem for school pupils, university students and parents, as our young people look to equip themselves with the skills, knowledge and abilities required to enable them to reach their true potential in the 21st century workplace. But what are the causes of this STEM skills gap? And are the problems and the steps needed to address them the responsibility of parents, educators, government or business? These were the key questions raised and the issues debated around STEM at a lively and insightful panel discussion chaired by renowned technologist Dr Sue Black and hosted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) during IP EXPO Europe 2016. Panellists included TV personalities Maggie Philbin and Johnny Ball (both well-known for their work popularising science, technology and maths), Professor Will Stewart, the Vice President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Marc Waters, HPE’s newly appointed Managing Director for the UK and Ireland. How can education move forward? The current STEM skills gap within education is a hotly debated issue, yet the numbers working in STEM are still going down. Is the curriculum at fault? Or is this part of a wider misperception amongst young people and their parents about potential careers in engineering and technology? “The curriculum is a total mess,” says Johnny Ball, “but engineering is beyond the curriculum, anyway. And that’s where the kids would like to be. To attract kids to STEM subjects, you’ve always got to treat children two years older than they actually are. You’ve got to stretch the boundaries. And the curriculum doesn’t do that, at all.” Ball passionately believes in the need for a curriculum that gives kids more power and thinks the current maths curriculum is too heavily focused on numeracy (at primary level) and on statistics (at secondary level). In his opinion, the curriculum is only there to test teachers and to test schools. “It is nothing to do with children,” he says, “and that’s what is wrong. If you do any STEM efforts, you take the kids out of the box. You have to entertain them and engage them and attract their attention. You don’t send them to sleep! “The basis of technology and engineering has always been hands on. And kids love to get hands on. They like to get involved. But you have to show them the way and show them the basis of these ideas. You set projects that are a little beyond them, but you give them the clues to get them there. And that is education and that is how you move forward.” Attracting more girls into engineering All the panellists agree on the value of project-based learning. “You also have the same thing with geometry,” says the IET’s Professor Will Stewart, “because it’s a puzzle. And the kids love puzzles.” On a recent Mumsnet-sponsored Twitter chat, answering questions that kids had asked their confused parents, the IET VP had been asked: “Why doesn’t the moon fall down?” To which he had answered “Well, it does, but it’s moving so fast sideways that it falls past us.” Which is essentially correct! “It’s important to try to answer difficult questions,” Stewart adds, “and it’s also important for kids to attempt to do things that are difficult. The whole business of selling things to children is a big deal. The biggest deal is women. Only nine per cent of engineers are women. I think they maybe have the wrong idea of what engineering is.” Attracting youngsters, girls in particular, is a massive and difficult problem. How might we allow more girls to understand that they could be brilliant engineers? “I think that it is by giving them the opportunity to be engineers,” says Maggie Philbin, who, in her role as leader of TeenTech, has been working at the sharp end of this. “No statistics - for example, telling me that if we had X number more women working in engineering and technology that the UK will be better off by £60 billion - are going to convince me to be an engineer. That isn’t enough. I have to actually feel that I am really enjoying being an engineer and I want to do it. It’s those opportunities. So we need to find ways of giving students that currently don’t have those opportunities the chance to make discoveries.” Like Ball, Philbin is critical of the school curriculum, “because often the curriculum doesn’t allow students to really feel like they are making discoveries. So for me, it all comes back to self-directed project-based learning. Where it is amazing what students will do. “There are two approaches needed. Bottom-up, which is what TeenTech does, and then top-down.” Degree Apprenticeships and skills-based learning One thing all the panellists can agree on is that, in order to find viable solutions to the STEM skills crisis, the key stakeholder groups – business, government, educators, parents and other influencers - really need to come together. “From a business standpoint, creating opportunity and promoting that opportunity to young people to create the demand for the skills is really important,” explains HPE’s UKI MD, Marc Waters. “And to do that more effectively alongside the government, as this is definitely an area in which government could listen more to business on.” In particular, Waters wants to see government do more to create the right perception around skills-based education. “The government spent a lot of time creating a perception that degree-based education was the be-all and end-all. And children were driven towards that. Without creating the right profile for skills. "The Degree Apprenticeship, for example, is a great initiative, but we need to see a better implementation of the apprenticeship level. Which is a great opportunity to see the government listen to businesses about how we can do more with that, because it is in businesses’ interest to attract young people via skills-based learning and to create apprenticeships.” Overall, there is a clear agreement that there are key roles to play for all the various groups of stakeholders mentioned above. “We have a very good opportunity here,” notes Waters. “And the narrative from the government is really positive. It is great to see skills right at the top of the Chancellor’s agenda. Now to see the action, I think.”