If you’re an engineer who’d like funding to support your own STEM outreach activities, apply now for I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here at imanengineer.org.uk/engineers
I could not have dreamed how far my project has come since winning I’m an Engineer in 2015. To everyone involved, I cannot thank all of you enough. Thanks to all of you, I was able to donate the £500 to support this incredible children’s book project, ‘Suzie & Ricky: The Crash Landing’. The overall aim of the children’s book is to inspire primary school children to want to be engineers at a young age.
A few days after my win, it was National Women in Engineering Day where we held an event in Sheffield Winter Gardens to launch the book together with fun engineering-related activities. Last October, I was interviewed by ITN productions for the IET programme ‘Engineering Our World’ where we took the book into a local school to read and do related activities.
This book has become the heart of the University of Sheffield’s ‘Engineering Is’ campaign in order to tackle the shortage of UK engineers. This campaign was launched by us at the Houses of Parliament in early November. It was so exciting to present in the House of Commons to MPs, executive members of engineering companies and others about how we developed ‘Suzie & Ricky’ and demonstrate the support we have received from all of you!
The I’m an Engineer prize money, along with additional funding, is being used to develop a website (including a cartoon and game), a virtual reality game and hopefully an app (see the website!). Furthermore, the money has made it possible to publish additional books to expand this project nationally across the UK, and it will be soon released as an eBook that will be available from the website and Amazon.
Some of you asked whether we would distribute the book internationally which at the time I thought was an amazing ambition for the project. But I am happy to report that there has also been lots of enthusiasm shown to begin sharing this book internationally to other English-speaking countries first, before translating the book into other languages including Spanish, Italian and Chinese. Moreover, we are planning to start working on a sequel to start a ‘Suzie & Ricky’ series.
It has been a genuine joy bringing the book to kids whether through a stand, in schools, or I’m an Engineer. They ask the greatest, funniest and most curious questions about what I do, I simply love it! I remember one group of children in particular. They were asking questions about what I do, to which I explained that I am a bioengineer and I’m working on a PhD project to grow bones. The jaw of this one boy literally dropped like a cartoon and he paused for a moment before putting his hands on his head over his eyes and exclaiming “You’re like…breaking the laws of physics!”
Public engagement is a great way to get out of the workplace and remember why we do the work we do, and reignite that passion, curiosity and excitement for that work. The most exciting thing about this project is that the story is not over yet.