Five projects that raise the profile of chemical engineering (Day 361)

Day 361 – five days and counting.

During my year as novice blogger, I’ve been made aware of many excellent projects involving outreach that raise the profile of our profession to the public, and in particular, to school children.

This blog post highlights five initiatives that will inspire a new generation of chemical engineers, as well as promoting the value of engineering to a wider audience:

1. Pint of Science

pint of science beer mat

Pint of Science beer mats

The Pint of Science festival is an annual event, held over three days, that takes place in pubs across the world. During the festival, researchers and experts in their field discuss their latest scientific work over a drink. Pint of Science has grown year on year since its inception in 2012 by two research scientists, Michael Motskin and Praveen Paul, at Imperial College London, UK.

This year I was invited to take part – and in return I was promised a free pint!  Well how could I refuse?  I’m a big fan of science communication and public engagement – the free pint had nothing to do with it!

geoff at pint of science

Giving a talk at Pint of Science

I spoke at the Bolton pub in London’s, Earl’s Court, on the topic  ‘Our energy future: the next 50 years‘ alongside my colleague, Dr. Iain Macdonald, programme manager of the Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC).

I examined our current energy mix and what it might look like in the future. I then focused on how we can cut our carbon emissions and combat climate change, and in particular, how we all need to become better citizens energy wise. Iain went on to explain the research we’re doing at QCCSRC on carbon capture and storage (CCS).

This festival is a great initiative that brings science and engineering to a wider audience. The 2015 Pint of Science festival also saw talks on volcanoes, developments in cancer research, and the science behind Sci-Fi films to name a few. I’m looking look forward to next year’s event when I can enjoy the festival from the audience.

2. Engineers without borders

VolunteerEngineers Without Borders (EWB) is an international aid organisation that works to inspire, mobilise and support people to use science and engineering to alleviate poverty in the developing world.

I’ve blogged about their incredible voluntary work before.  See Youthful role models. EWB raises the profile of engineering via outreach, education  and fundraising initiatives. Find out more, including news of their latest UK project, the EWB Challenge, on their website.

3. Immersive theatre

Water_LogoBack in February 2015, I blogged about Spreading the engineering message through immersive theatre where the issues of climate change and water scarcity were highlighted to members of the public through a novel theatre experience.

The production called New Atlantis by LAStheatre, set in the year 2050, provided an entertaining way to bring key messages and engineering solutions to a willing audience. This project engaged with over 1,000 members of the public – and not only that, it encouraged them to ask questions, dig a little deeper and discover the right solution for themselves!

4. Really Small Science

really small science 2Really Small Science are a group of chemical engineering researchers based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK, who engage with school children (as well as their parents) through their nano-themed workshops. Over the past year, they have engaged with over 5,000 people and have spread the chemical engineering matters message far and wide.

They particularly enjoy talking to children who are making their first discoveries in the world of science and engineering. This project inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers. You can read more about it in my post Engaging the public through Really Small Science.

5. Say YES!

Amec Foster Wheeler LogoThe Young Engineers Scheme (YES) is a great programme run by Amec Foster Wheeler. The initiative, delivered by engineers in Reading, UK, invites local school children to participate in a 12 week project involving real scientific and engineering problems.

Graduates from Amec Foster Wheeler act as mentors to help the teams of students complete their report and presentations for the project. Not only does the scheme spark an interest in chemical engineering among school children, it also helps develop Amec Foster Wheeler’s engineers. There’s more information on the 2015 YES project in my blog Planning for the future – say YES.


Are you involved in a project that raises the profile of chemical engineering?

Comment below and share how you engage with a wider audience.

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