Robotics set to bring engineering to life in new Ri Masterclass

A new robotics-themed Ri Masterclass is one of only 22 projects in the UK awarded an Ingenious grant by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

  • Speaker and student at an Ri Engineering Masterclass
    Credit: Tim Mitchell

News

A new project by the Royal Institution’s Masterclasses team which explores and highlights the vital role of robotics in engineering is one of 22 new ideas that will be funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s 2014 grant scheme, Ingenious.

Ingenious is a public engagement grants scheme for creative public engagement with engineering projects, funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Ri Engineering Masterclasses project will design, deliver and evaluate a set of hands-on educational modules introducing engineering to young people through the theme of robotics. The modules will be developed by STEM outreach specialists at the Ri with consultant support from robotics experts Rustam Stolkin and Michael Mistry from the Intelligent Robotics Lab at the University of Birmingham.

The aim of the modules is to inspire children to pursue STEM courses and careers through hands-on activities with robots, using simple and accessible materials, including the popular LEGO robotics kits and other materials, which are both fun and expand knowledge.

Engineering doctoral students and young engineers will also be recruited and trained as volunteers, giving them valuable experience in public communication of their subject, following which they will be invited to give talks to Ri members, students and their families and teachers based on the material used in the modules.

Diane Crann, Ri Masterclass Programme Manager said: “We’re delighted to be awarded this Ingenious grant for supporting engineers and post-graduate students to deliver exciting robotics projects to young people. This new project will help us increase the number of confident and skilled communicators in this field, as well as expand the number of Engineering Masterclasses we can offer around the country."

The Ri launched its Engineering Masterclasses in London in 2009 and today they reach more than 350 young people each year in 10 locations across the country.

The aim of Ingenious is to give engineers an opportunity to engage with public audiences in all shapes and sizes. Other projects funded by Ingenious this year will see engineers engaging with audiences at music festivals, helping students at coding clubs, and debating the ethics behind engineering issues such as creating cultured meat.

Professor Sarah Spurgeon FREng, Chair of the Ingenious funding panel and Professor of Control Engineering and Head of School, University of Kent, said: “Engineering underpins our society in many ways – whether it be the roads we drive on, the clean water we drink, or the smartphones we use to connect to our friends and family. Through Ingenious, we want to shine a light on the engineers who deliver these innovations, while also giving the public a chance to question and share their own views.

She added: “Engineering is at the heart of our society and the value of encouraging our engineers to engage others with their work, and giving them the skills to do so, cannot be understated.”

Further information on the scheme can be found at: www.raeng.org.uk/ingenious.

About the Royal Academy of Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering is the UK's national academy for engineering which brings together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. It provides analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. It takes a lead on engineering education and invests in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. It works to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. It is a national academy with a global outlook. It has four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society. 

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