Inspiring a future generation of engineers has never been more important, as we seek urgent solutions to the Climate Crisis. The West of England is leading the way developing sustainability solutions with academia and industry collaborating to reach Net Zero by 2030. These green jobs are vital to our regional economy as well as the future security of our world.
The DETI Inspire programme aims to catalyse green career accessibility and progression through enhanced STEM outreach, connected to the cutting-edge DETI industrial test cases. The programme has developed the Digital Trailblazers (secondary schools) and Curiosity Connections (primary schools) networks in the West of England and we are at the heart of innovative school and industry regional collaborative projects, with national partners for further reach. Using curriculum-linked engineering outreach and careers support, we are renowned for connecting children with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for green STEM careers.
Encouraging diversity and inclusivity, DETI Inspire has engaged children in primary and secondary education across the West of England, with a focus on disadvantaged areas. From September 2020 to December 2022, DETI Inspire delivered a wide range of outputs and engagement activities. In two years, the team directly engaged over 20,206 children, 469 teachers, and 218 schools, with over 117,000 additional children reached through indirect dissemination efforts. Along the way, children have been able to have conversations with real-life engineers through Q&A sessions, card games and skill shares. 483 engineers have so far been part of the outreach, as well as at least 17 industry partners and three charities.
Of those direct engagements, 5,787 young people have received at least one in-person, presented BoxED workshop with their school (The West in Minecraft, We Make Our Future, Engineering Curiosity, WeCount). Of those 5,787, 29% (N=1,699) of the young people have been from schools in the two lowest IMD bands; i.e. areas representing the most deprived 20% of the country.
1,473 student feedback responses have been collected during the presenter-led workshops.
From these responses, 58% of students engaged are female, versus 42% male. When asked to describe their level of interest in engineering before and after the session, ‘Very Interested’ in engineering responses increased 39% from before the session to after and ‘Interested’ increased by 11%. ‘Neutral’, ‘Of Little Interest’ and ‘Not Interested’ all decreased.
DETI Inspire will continue to deliver activities to schools across the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). We will provide much needed coordination for digital engineering and green career progression through our Diversity Demonstrator with support from STEM Ambassadors. We will champion green jobs and STEM careers to ensure the development of this vital industry for the West of England, enabling our region to work towards our goal of Net Zero 2030.
Fogg Rogers, L., Cockbill, L., Bristow, A., Warren, J., & Laggan, S. (2023). DETI Inspire Final Report. Bristol, UK: West of England Combined Authority