Engineering X – an international collaboration founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Lloyd’s Register Foundation – has awarded grants of up to £50,000 each to 21 projects in 14 different countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America to support the delivery of skills and education programmes. The projects will help develop domestic engineering capability and ensure that critical infrastructure can be built, operated and maintained safely without an over-reliance on multinational organisations and temporary, expatriate labour.
Previous research by Engineering X published in the Global Engineering Capability Review found that for many countries there is no problem with the number of engineers they produce. However, the quality and relevance of the training of their engineers is inadequate to meet national requirements, and the engineering skills needed and training required can vary greatly between countries.
As the pace of technological change accelerates, no nation can afford to ease up on their efforts to conduct engineering in a safe and innovative way. The projects funded today are collaborative partnerships that will use potentially disruptive ideas to support domestic infrastructure and help local engineers to develop the skills and capacity to adopt emerging and life-improving technologies at scale.
Some of the projects will help to increase the uptake of engineering among school children by promoting the provision of high-quality STEM teaching. Others aim to enhance quality, challenge-oriented education in engineering institutions such as vocational/technical colleges, apprenticeship providers, and engineering universities, including furthering the impact of Africa’s first post-graduate fire safety engineering degree.
Also among those receiving grants are projects to upskill the existing engineering and technician workforce to improve safety practices and enhance their ability to use emerging technologies. These include a plan in Uganda to build entrepreneurship, leadership and management skills of women engineers and technicians through housing innovation.
A scheme to teach cybersecurity engineering in Ghana typifies projects that support policy and partnerships to develop capacity to take advantage of opportunities to tackle existing or emerging engineering and safety challenges at scale.
A full list of all the projects can be found here [ADD LINK].
During the application process, some applicants asked—and were granted--permission to change their projects in response to the emerging COVID-19 crisis. For example, a project in Kenya to train electrical technicians on one particular off-grid solar access project proposed instead that training should switch to the installation and maintenance of solar systems for use in healthcare facilities. The project also aims that 50% of trainees should be female.
Professor Peter Goodhew CBE FREng, Chair of the Engineering X Engineering skills where they are most needed Board, said: “Many countries struggle to develop a supply of engineering talent that matches their growing and diverse needs. Prior to the current pandemic, only in some quarters was it recognised that a radically new approach to engineering education and training was required in many countries if they were ever to close their existing skills gap. Now there is a much wider acknowledgement that appropriate domestic engineering skills are vital if countries are to survive future pandemics and similar systemic shocks.
“This grants process was well underway when COVID-19 struck. We had already chosen an impressive range of projects but the ingenuity and adaptability of applicants to pivot their ideas to deliver projects in the changed circumstances makes me even more optimistic that countries have the right individuals with the ideas and talent to effect change and to ensure that their engineers enter the workforce with the right mix of skills. The aim of Engineering X is to help them and others like them to do this.”