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Schools engagement

At UCL Engineering, we aim to create an ethos where engineering is seen as intrinsically worthwhile and relevant to pupils from all walks of life and, above all, is truly inclusive

Racing GERTI

We believe in widening diversity in engineering and our engagement with young people, in every sense. Gender equality and diversity is one of the faculty’s strategic priorities. Our activities and programmes promote a love of learning, encouraging young people to engage with the design and make process, problem solve and give voice to both their creativity and critical thinking, working on authentic projects that are relevant to them and to the world around them.

Our 600+ active staff and students have developed and delivered 134 engagement and outreach programmes, activities and events, inviting over 6000 students, 5-19 year olds, across over 500 primary and secondary schools in London and the UK, to discover the creative, humanitarian and problem-solving nature of engineering and its significance to society.

Through our programmes we try to change the stereotyped perceptions of suitable choices and careers in young people – both girls and boys – their teachers, parents, carers and youth workers, by raising awareness of the exciting and wide-ranging careers in engineering. Our activities are always free and open to all and we insist on 50% participation of girls throughout all our programmes.

Our brochure Engineering Engagement: Young People & Schools provides a summary of our recent engagement activity with young audiences.

Strategy

UCL was founded on the principle of intellectually rigorous education, open to all irrespective of race, gender, religion or social background. It was also established on principles of excellence in teaching and research, aimed at addressing real-world problems through a vibrant multi-disciplinary community. We aim to continue applying our founding ethos and propose radically new ideas and perspectives to engineering research, teaching and learning when engaging with young people.

The following outlines the strategy approach of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at UCL to ensure long-term impact of our engineering education and engagement:

Engagement statements
  • We aim to create an ethos where engineering is seen as intrinsically worthwhile and relevant to pupils from all walks of life, promotes diversity, gender equality and above all is truly inclusive.
  • We believe that UCL staff and students are exceptionally well placed to spread UCL’s ethos outside the confines of the campus and academia.
  • We develop engineering engagement programmes that are truly inclusive in their design and accessible to young people of all abilities, physical or learning, backgrounds and levels of understanding.
  • We design activities based on cutting edge research occurring in our labs with a strong social context and environmental mission. Activities that promote a love of learning, encouraging young people to engage with the design and make process, problem solve and give voice to both their creativity and critical thinking.
  • We want to take young people on a learning journey showing them what engineers actually do, encouraging experimentation, providing substance and meaning to theoretical, abstract concepts while developing their knowledge and self-confidence.
  • We encourage academic rigour and practical invention through our activities, integrating real problems into engineering education and getting young people to work on authentic projects that are relevant to them.
  • We are committed to promoting UCL’s ethos of research-based learning to young audiences across all Key Stages, stretching students to their academic limits, building up their knowledge and pushing them to research topics that are not normally taught until undergraduate level.
  • We want to ensure that girls and boys from a very early age receive an equal opportunity to experience engineering. We work with charities and organisations across the UK to promote STEM and engineering to children in primary schools from a very early age.
  • We insist on 50% participation of girls throughout all our programmes and our activities with industry or organisation partners. We believe in widening diversity in engineering and our engagement with young people, in every sense. We aim to increase access and participation of girls in STEM-related activities and programmes run by the Faculty of Engineering and its partners.
  • We are committed in sending a clear, strong and consistent message to teachers, parents and wider society that breaks down the “stereotypical messages” that have created invisible barriers holding back girls and limiting their extraordinary potential. We believe that empowering individuals with real choice, away from social and cultural stereotyping is better for both girls and boys.
  • We ensure good gender and racial representation of staff and students in our engagement programmes with young people, widening diversity in every way while ensuring gender and race is not seen in isolation.
  • We work with schoolteachers to ensure they are aware that STEM and engineering are relevant and rewarding careers for girls as well as boys.
  • We aim to provide support and professional development as well as teaching and learning resources for teachers, youth workers and local communities.
  • We aim to support schools depending on their needs, capabilities and constraints, mostly through face-to-face interaction and the building of sustainable, meaningful programmes.
  • We have an open, collaborative ethos and work in partnership with industry, government and organisations to develop a mechanism for consistent, meaningful engagement with engineering for young people and schools.
  • We work with charities and youth centres, to encourage a more diverse group of young people – including individuals at risk from social exclusion and isolation – to discover STEM subjects and engineering as a degree and career.
  • We aim to continue and grow the cohort our STEM Ambassadors and student volunteers that support our engineering engagement activities. We recognize the strong desire of many of our students, both under- and postgraduates, to “make a difference” or “give something back” and we actively encourage our students to become mentors, tutors and volunteer their time to engage with children and young people.

Activities

Browse the sections below to find out about the different ways we put our engagement strategy into action.
Science and engineering summer schools

The science and engineering summer schools are developed and delivered by UCL Engineering academic teams in collaboration with experts from industry and organisations. The summer school is a journey of discovery and exploration into the world of engineering. It is an exciting week filled with researching, designing, testing, analysing, modifying and perfecting solutions to real-world engineering challenges. 

STEM day workshops

The faculty of Engineering offers a wide range of engineering day workshops for many different age groups of school pupils in fields including computer science, design engineering, robotics, environmental engineering and much more. Engineering day workshops are conceived and run by academic teams together with industry partners and field experts and provide activities that cover academic and vocational routes and learning pathways. 

Engineering after school clubs

The UCL Engineering school clubs are devised and run by academics in collaboration with postgraduate and undergraduate engineering students. The clubs are designed to encourage young participants to consider STEM subjects, provide an insight into studying engineering at university and highlight the relevance of engineering to the subjects taught at school in a fun, creative and informative manner. These programmes aim to enhance the practical skills, self-confidence, problem-solving and thinking skills of pupils.

Coding clubs and programmes

In support of the new computer science curriculum, we have formed collaborations with local communities and coding club networks. Our academic teams and undergraduate students in UCL Computer Science work with teachers, youth centres, charities and communities to provide essential support with computing in schools. Our students help children learn how to code and understand the fundamental principles of Computer Science and its applications in a practical way.

Engineering taster days

The Engineering Taster Day programme is run in collaboration with the University of London to provide secondary school students with a taste of what engineer at UCL is like. The day long activity invites young people to experience the different teaching methods used by our academic teams in all engineering departments and gain an insight into the research activities and lab facilities available, while meeting and interacting with our undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Mentoring and tutoring programmes

UCL Engineering mentoring programmes consist of undergraduate and postgraduate students who visit schools to meet small teams of students. The mentoring schemes support aspirational extra-curricula activities and are faculty-led, department-led or programmes in collaboration with partner charities, organisations or institutions. Our students are great role models for school pupils and become the greatest ambassadors for engineering.

Tutoring programmes led by the UCL Engineering faculty are teaching sessions to support the school curriculum. Through these programmes our undergraduate and postgraduate students provide on-going academic support to pupils in schools via one-to-one or small group tutoring. Tutoring schemes are faculty-led or run in collaboration with our education partners.

Engineering open days

UCL Engineering hosts and participates in a number of Open Days throughout the year for school students interested in finding more about engineering at university. Academics and postgraduate students from all UCL Engineering departments present exciting aspects of their research via interactive stands and short activities. Prospective students have the opportunity to meet with our staff, visit our departments and learn about the courses and study opportunities available to them.

Research placements and work experience

UCL Engineering collaborates with partner organisations and charities to offer students the opportunity to work alongside our academic and research staff, giving students an insight into cutting edge engineering and technology research. The placements can be either for one or two weeks with a particular research teams and are aimed for students with a true commitment and passion for engineering that want to experience research first hand. Students learn a number of skills, techniques and experiment with a wide range of materials, tools and technologies.

We occasionally offer work experience opportunities through individual engineering teams or departments for students to work alongside our academics but these are limited. Students have the opportunity to meet experts from different areas of engineering in academia and industry who collaborate with the academic or team that is offering the work experience.

Engineering activities for primary schools

Engineering in primary schools is a small-scale programme that we are piloting with a group of primary schools and external partners. We believe that if we want to inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators we have to start early, in primary school. The pilot programme looks at developing interactive sessions and engineering workshop activities for the children and also linking them to our academic staff, research students and expert engineers in industry.

Science and engineering masterclasses

The Science and Engineering Masterclasses are interactive, hands-on sessions devised and delivered by UCL Engineering academics, either faculty-led or in collaboration with other scientific institutions. The programmes go beyond the school curriculum, bringing engineering to life, showing cutting-edge research via a multidisciplinary approach that combines engineering with arts and humanities, design, medicine, as well as other science subject areas.

Multidisciplinary science and engineering activities

One of the most exciting strands of our engineering engagement work looks at bringing together academics and students from the arts, sciences and engineering in multidisciplinary collaborative teams. From experiential theatrical projects, to immersive science shows, art science project and notions of storytelling about engineering that make it meaningful to young people, these programmes always provide a rich and engaging learning experience.

STEM career events

Through STEM Careers events we support our partner education charities, engineering education organisations and teacher school networks to encourage more young people to apply for engineering through university and apprenticeship routes. Meaningful involvement of our undergraduate and postgraduate students in such events has always been successful as school pupils feel more confortable asking questions and talking about their career options.

Engineering toolkits and teaching resources

Our academic teams together with UCL Engineering undergraduate and postgraduate students and teachers in schools have developed a series of engineering toolkits and worksheets. The main purpose of these toolkits is to be used as teaching tools in the classroom for subjects including maths, physics, and computer science and to introduce students to a particular field of engineering, introducing and explaining engineering principles, systems and structures.

Several engineering departments are currently involved in the development of teaching resources for secondary schools. Teams of academics and undergraduate students work together with teacher networks and communities, sharing ideas for developing the teaching of STEM subjects in schools and in their classroom.

Engineering departmental tours

Departmental tours of UCL Engineering departments offer students and their teachers the opportunity to visit the teaching and research laboratory facilities, perform short lab activities with our postgraduate students, and chat informally to members of staff and students. The tours also provide an opportunity for young people and their teachers to ask questions about engineering and life at university. 

Online learning and teaching engineering programmes

“Engineering Everywhere” is a small-scale pilot that started in the summer at UCL Engineering to reach and engage with young people and schools outside London and in remote areas who would not otherwise have the opportunity to connect with us. We have been making full use of the technology and web 2.0 tools to provide access and wider participation to the world of engineering.

Science and engineering fairs and festivals

UCL Engineering departments always have a strong presence in science, engineering and technology fairs and festivals. These events provide a unique opportunity to engage with young audiences and give them a fantastic experience with engineering. The vital contribution of our academics, research teams and students, their passion and active engagement brings these events to life. Our teams have the ability to effectively communicate their subject-specific knowledge in an accessible, straightforward and engaging manner to audiences of different ages and levels of prior understanding.

CPD teacher courses

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and training sessions run by engineering departments in the faculty aim to provide teachers with the subject knowledge that they need to teach the computer science and engineering curriculum. The sessions are designed and delivered by our academic and teaching experts.

School talks and visits

Students and teachers really like to hear our academics and research students talk about their personal journeys in becoming engineers, so school talks and visits by our staff and students are extremely popular. We aim for school talks to be engaging and entertaining while creating a dialogue between the students and our expert engineers that inspires, enables and sparks the imagination.

Get involved

Want to find out more? Get in touch via email