An important week for engineers

5 November 2013 | Source: Tomorrow's Engineers' Week

With Tomorrow’s Engineers’ Week in full flow, the Institute of Physics (IOP) has spoken out in support of the recommendations in Professor John Perkins’ Review of engineering skills in the UK.

Professor Perkins, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS), makes a range of strong recommendations, including two that concern physics education.

With physics education providing the foundation that leads many into engineering, Professor Perkins stresses the need for the government to focus on recruiting a greater number of specialist physics teachers and also attracting a higher proportion of females to the subject at A-level.  

Dr Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics, said, “We wholeheartedly support Professor John Perkins’ conclusion that we need a far greater number of engineers if we are to address the rapid technological, environmental and societal change and the subsequent challenges we face.

“Tomorrow’s engineers will be taught skills and knowledge that underpin their discipline in physics classes at secondary school.  Professor Perkins’ report recognises the principal importance of ensuring that students are taught these fundamentals by qualified and inspiring physics teachers.  At present, there are far too few of these teachers to ensure all students are taught appropriately.

“Professor Perkins also highlights the work that needs to be done to inspire a greater number of girls. He could not be more right.  With physics already the second most popular subject among boys at A-level in the UK but languishing 18th among girls, it is clear where the shortfall is.

“We want to ensure that every student receives their entitlement to a good physics education from great teachers and that girls are not discouraged from studying physics by anachronistic gender stereotypes.  We welcome every opportunity to work closely with our partners in these crucial areas.”

Alongside Professor Perkins’ report, activity is already underway during Tomorrow’s Engineers’ Week to challenge outdated perceptions of engineering by showcasing the range of exciting careers available as an engineer.  For more information, visit their website

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