Although the 2017 ‘A’ Level and GCSE results showed a promising increase in the number of students taking STEM subjects, there is still significant progress to be made in attracting young people to study engineering.

EngineeringUK, which works in partnership with the engineering community to promote the role of engineers and inspire the next generation, estimates that the country needs 1.8 million new engineers by 2025. Certainly, there is no shortage of pressing concerns facing manufacturing with the adoption of industry 4.0, however innovation will be key to the UK’s economic success, particularly as it leaves EU membership behind.

The race to learn

Since 1999 the Greenpower Education Trust has been inspiring young engineers by providing them with an opportunity to design and build an electric racing car. Through the Greenpower challenge, teams of school children can either design and build their own car, or buy a kit which has all the required components including chassis, steering, brake and electrical systems. Teams then decide on their own body design.

Greenpower has a category for 9-11 year olds and more advanced categories for 11-16 year olds and 16-25 year olds, both of which give greater scope to customise and learn. Cars and drivers participate in a series of tests at regional events with prizes awarded to top cars. The 2017 International Final event will take place at Rockingham Motor Speedway on 7 and 8 October.

What prevents many young people from taking part in this sort of challenge is the cost of building a racing vehicle to be successful on track. This is what prompted OnePLM to get involved; by promoting the use of Siemens 3D CAD software, teams need only build one version of their racing car. The Siemens Industry Software academic programme provides technology to schools, colleges and universities and OnePLM is also investing in the next generation of engineers. It has been working with Greenpower for the past two years to supply software to educational establishments, train teachers and provide mentoring to teams.

Exploring ‘what if scenarios’ in a virtual world

For school teams, the use of Siemens 3D CAD enables budding engineers to innovate more, review and revise their designs before they face the practicalities and costs of building them.

“OnePLM has already trained a number of teachers for us and later this year will be delivering more training to demonstrate how operating in the virtual world first accelerates progress in the physical world,” reports Jeremy Way, chief executive officer at Greenpower Education Trust.

“Young engineers gain a huge amount of useful knowledge and experience through interaction with employers and we would like more companies in the area to adopt a local school and offer guidance and design advice to our teams,” continues Jeremy.

The Greenpower challenge has given OnePLM the opportunity to give back to the engineering industry by supporting education. Calling on its wide-ranging expertise in Siemens digital design and manufacturing solutions, OnePLM will continue to provide technical expertise and mentoring via Greenpower throughout the UK.

Supporting the next generation

Transferring knowledge and experience from present-day technical experts to the next generation is one way for OnePLM and its customer base to give back to engineering and ensure that the UK has the right skills to drive future development within the virtual world.

Greenpower gives students an insight into real engineering: from track performance, through budgetary considerations and getting it right first time, to mitigating failure and putting in a winning result on the day. With this type of real-world experience, they have a higher chance of accessing the right course, such as one at the Silverstone University Technical College (UTC).

This offers 14 – 19 year olds the opportunity to study high performance engineering and motorsport as well as technical events management. An educational partnership between Tresham College of Further and Higher Education, University of Northampton and Silverstone Circuit, the Silverstone UTC combines academic learning with the acquisition of practical skills.

OnePLM customers are already benefiting from the enthusiastic engineers who are on the company’s in-house PLM skills programme. They are making a valuable contribution to the industry as part of OnePLM’s partnership with Silverstone University Technical College.

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