Engineers seen as ‘less intelligent’, warns Royal Academy; Children are ‘natural engineers’, says Royal Academy of Engineering report, but warns these innate skills are not valued by education system

Engineers seen as ‘less intelligent’, warns Royal Academy

Children are ‘natural engineers’, says Royal Academy of Engineering report, but warns these innate skills are not valued by education system

By Alan Tovey, Jobs Editor

7:01AM BST 23 May 2014

Britain will never solve its skills crisis unless the education system is redesigned to stop it “extinguishing” engineering abilities in youngsters.

A report commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) has found that while children are “natural engineers” the current schooling system ignores this and instead concentrates on less practical skills.

“Young children exhibit engineering habits of mind in the raw,” says the report, titled Thinking like an Engineer – Implications for the Education System.

“When the cardboard structure they have built is strong enough to support the weight of other toys and becomes a medieval castle, there is the thrill of persistent and successful experimentation.”

However such qualities are not valued in our education system, the report claims.

“Schools, like post-Enlightenment society, choose to persist in believing that people who design, make and fix things must be less intelligent than those who can write essays, make speeches or understand quadratic equations,” says the study, prepared by the University of Winchester’s Centre for Real World Learning.

Previous RAE research has found that by 2020 the UK will require 1.28m new professionals with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills for the UK to maintain its engineering base. There are currently 2.3m people in the engineering-related skills base, according to the academy’s data but companies are consistently warning that they are having problems recruiting people with the STEM skills they need.

Researchers interviewed engineers, teachers and lecturers and discovered six characteristics they termed “engineering habits of mind” which they say need to become embedded in the education system to deal with the impending skills shortage.

The report said the “core engineering mind” is about “making things work or making things work better” and the six habits that create this are:

*Systems thinking

*Adapting

*Problem finding

*Creative problem solving

*Visualising

*Improving

Report author Professor Bill Lucas, director of the Centre for Real-World Learning, said: “Engineers think differently from the rest of the world. And society badly needs their problem-solving, systems-thinking and relentlessly-seeking-to-make-and-improve mindset.

“Yet the education system does little to teach in ways that will cultivate the engineers we will need. We leave it too late and, too often, teach it too dully. This has to change.”

Professor Helen Atkinson, chair of the RAE committee for education and training, added: “This insightful work suggests that even with an improved public engagement with engineering, our current education system in the UK does not sufficiently develop the habits of mind of young people to encourage them to pursue further study towards engineering careers.

“The academy is grateful to the authors for bringing a new perspective on an important issue for educating future generations of engineers in the UK.”

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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