This is Engineering campaign works with young engineers to compile a list of engineering wonders asresearch shows misconceptions about the profession could be preventing young people finding their dream career

  • Young people asked to identify engineering wonders of the 21st century in a bid to highlight the breadth of the world of engineering
  • Cutting edge innovations such as YouTube, Gore-Tex, the iPhone and Dolby Atmos cinema sound are among products identified as engineering wonders
  • Over 95% of 11-18-year-olds surveyed are unaware that engineering jobs exist in the arts, healthcare, fashion, beauty and hospitality
  • More than half of teens use Facebook and YouTube, yet fewer than 16% were aware that these have been created by engineers
  • Over half of teens correctly listed famous construction projects such as the Eiffel Tower, London Underground and The Shard as examples of engineering, less than 20% were aware that social media apps such as SnapChat and Spotify have been developed by engineers

The This is Engineering campaign, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, has worked with young engineers to identify seven wonders of the 21st century world that are rarely recognised as feats of engineering. The list includes breakthroughs in fashion, sport, technology, entertainment, film, healthcare and the environment, and highlights the increasingly broad role of engineering in everyday life.

The list was drawn up with input from a range of experts and a panel drawn from the Academy’s programmes for young engineers. It is part of the This is Engineering campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the breadth of careers in engineering and to help address the significant engineering skills and diversity shortfall that is holding back growth and productivity across the UK economy.

The list of engineering wonders is as follows:

  • Gore-Tex Fabric – the waterproof, breathable fabric designed by engineers for all-weather use that has revolutionised the outerwear industry, from coats to trainers.
  • Hawk-Eye - the real-time visual tracking computer system developed by engineers to help both referees and viewers of ball sports.
  • iPhone - Apple's device that launched a communications revolution in 2007, introducing the world to apps and putting the internet in our pockets.
  • YouTube - the game-changing platform that changed the way we watch television and share video content.
  • Dolby Atmos – the sound system that creates powerful, moving audio by introducing new concepts to cinema and film sound engineering.
  • 3D printed bone implants – the medical engineering innovation of a custom-made ceramic structure that allows new bone to grow around it.
  • Clean water - the life-saving miracle of our age, enabled by continuing engineering innovation.

The list was also informed by a survey of 2,000 11-18 year olds’ attitudes to and awareness of engineering careers and industries. Just 14% of teenagers were aware of engineering roles in the music industry, such as audio, recording and live sound engineering, and only 8% were aware that the sports and food and drink industries rely heavily on engineers.

Despite owning or using many engineered products or services, most teenagers were unaware that engineering was involved in designing and creating them. More than two thirds of teenagers own a pair of trainers or sports shoes, but only 20% were aware that they are designed by engineers. More than half of teens use Facebook and YouTube, yet less than 16% were aware that these have been created by engineers.

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The research showed that young people tend to have a stereotypical view of engineering. More than half of those surveyed correctly listed famous construction projects such as the Eiffel Tower, London Underground and the Shard as examples of engineering, but less than 20% were aware that social media apps such as SnapChat and Spotify have been developed by engineers.

Professor Mark Miodownik MBE FREng, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and engineering broadcaster and writer, says: “Engineering plays an essential part in everyday life, from the water we drink to the gadgets we use, and it’s also vital to addressing the challenges of the future. However, our survey shows that many young people don’t associate engineering with the technology they use day to day, and the things they’re interested in, which could mean they miss out on the opportunities to change the world as an engineer. We hope our list of surprising, 21st Century engineering wonders will inspire today’s teenagers and give them new opportunities.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the Research

Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the Royal Academy of Engineering: 2,000 people aged 11-18 were surveyed in February 2019.

About the engineering wonders list

The Engineering Wonders represent innovations with widespread impact in the 21st Century that are rarely recognised by the general public as the products of engineering.

The list was drawn up with input from a range of expert Academy Fellows, and a panel of young engineers drawn from the Academy’s programmes for undergraduates and graduates.

The inclusion of specific products and brands is reflective of the list criteria, and the views of the experts and young engineers consulted, and does not represent Royal Academy of Engineering policy or an endorsement of the brand.

About This is Engineering

This is Engineering is a campaign to raise awareness of the breadth of careers in engineering, and help address the significant engineering skills and diversity shortfall that is holding back growth and productivity across the UK economy. The campaign aims to give more young people, from the broadest possible backgrounds, the opportunity to take up an exciting, engaging, rewarding and in demand career.

This is Engineering is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, in collaboration with EngineeringUK. The campaign has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and our corporate partners. More information about the campaign is available at www.thisisengineering.org.uk and @ThisIsEng

Strategic partner

EngineeringUK

Founding Principal partners

BAE Systems

National Grid

Principal partners

Anglo American

BP

Centrica

Rolls-Royce

Siemens

Shell UK

Major partners

BT

Sponsors

Mott MacDonald

MBDA

Teledyne e2v

WSP

About the Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession.

We have three strategic priorities:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
  • Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
  • Position engineering at the heart of society

We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.

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