Engineer the Future aims to attract more kids to study natural sciences and eventually seek careers as engineers – a growing job sector, already in need of more applicants in the near future. A key focus area for the initiative is to maintain school children’s interest in natural science through the support of private sector engineers, filling a gap as child educators today are generally not specialized in this field.
Our Danish engineers recently stepped up to contribute to this goal, including 27-year-old Test Engineer, Kasper Kloborg. Along with five peers, Kasper received training in how to modify and integrate his specific field of interest into classroom interactions.
As a Test Engineer, Kasper had a clear view on how to engage kids. “I basically try to come up with different ways to break stuff,” he explained. “I think that many school children have this idea that an engineer sits behind a computer screen crunching numbers all day. In fact, most of my time is spent in test facilities and laboratories contemplating ways to stress materials, which requires that I’m creative, curious and somewhat bold, as we try to push the limits.”
Kasper and his five colleagues are now on stand-by, ready to roll out to classrooms across Denmark as experts in their individual fields. Their mission is clear: to invigorate the youthful joy of using the imagination to create, discover and refine.
“We have all tried bending a paperclip backward and forward until it breaks. I’ll bring similar examples into the classroom and let kids attempt to break and stress blade materials, to give them a sense of the strength, weight and durability of different materials,” Kasper explained.
Try, fail, adjust and try again. And again
Kasper’s colleagues agree that using hands-on examples, related to real life, is the way to engage children.
“I want children to know that most of the time we are, in many ways, at play within our field of interest. Personally, I think it’s really fascinating being able to take different materials that you wouldn’t usually come across, challenge their capabilities and come up with ways to strengthen their weak points. Who hasn’t done that as a child, playing with building blocks, making a ramp or constructing a kite?” said Jesper Thuesen, Composite Mechanics Specialist.
Children are already engineers
Conceptual Design Engineer, Armin Hermes, was himself inspired through play when deciding to become an engineer. “I think many children perceive engineering as something where you mainly delve into mathematical equations and such. When I was a kid, I was already interested in LEGO Technic, figuring out how things work and contemplating different properties of nature. That is still basically what I do! That interest made it easier for me to choose my career path,” he said.
Engineer the Future is a broad collaboration between Danish companies, educational institutions and organizations who share the common purpose of ensuring a qualified, technically-insightful workforce in the future. A recent study from the union for engineers IDA and Confederation of Danish Industries described an expected future shortage of specialists in the field of natural sciences, including engineers. One of the reasons is an inability to maintain schoolchildren’s interest in the natural sciences, partly because child educators today are generally not specialized in this field.
The principle behind the collaboration is based on mutual benefits for businesses and the educational system, as businesses get to inspire and motivate next generation specialists, and the school system receives applicable and practical examples from the real world to base their teachings upon.
Denmark's 2016 Engineer the Future Ambassador
Our engineers contribute to Engineer the Future in a variety of ways. Check out this home video from Mohammed - his first post last year on Engineer the Future's Facebook page.