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The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced 17 new Ingenious Public Engagement awards for projects designed to excite and inform the public about how engineers shape the world around us. Now in its 13th year, the Ingenious programme offers grants of up to £30,000 to support engineers to engage with the public in new and innovative ways.

Ingenious 2020 awardees

Fresh from working with Mercedes F1 to develop an emergency breathing device for COVID-19 patients in record time, Professor Rebecca Shipley and her colleagues at University College London will use Ingenious funding to set up Tomorrow’s Home 2050: Visions of Home-based Healthcare. This innovative project will create an immersive and interactive space to imagine what home healthcare will look like in 30 years’ time. Inspired by the UKRI and Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Healthy Ageing Challenge, the group will bring together engineers and members of the public in a shared experience of how future healthcare technologies will help to facilitate independent living.

Continuing the health theme, From making microscopes to finding microbes will enable Key Stage 3 pupils to collaborate with engineers to build an OpenFlexure Microscope – a fully automated diagnostic microscope that is based around a Raspberry Pi and can be built in a couple of hours from 3D printed parts. Pupils will build their microscopes then use simple coding to perform experiments like hunting for microscopic organisms.

Several of this year’s Ingenious -funded projects focus on climate change, with innovative projects that show how engineers are playing a critical role in addressing climate issues.

In the North of England, the educational theatre company Cap-a-Pie will work with engineers from Newcastle University and local Key Stage 2 pupils to create a play. Climate Change Catastrophe – a title chosen by the children – will show what they think of climate change, and their hopes, fears and ideas for the future.

Another project focusing on climate change is Kids Field – engineering solutions to the climate emergency, led by the Woodcraft Folk volunteer organisation who have extensive experience of delivering a range of activities at festivals across the UK. Working as a cross-sector partnership, this project will recruit, train and induct 50 young engineers to act as peer educators - engaging children and young people to explore possible climate solutions.

The Academy has also funded Migration and the Windrush Generation: New Ways of Communicating Engineering, an inspiring project based in Bristol that aims to tell a story of diversity, migration, and the engineering that underpinned it. This project will engage 8 to 12-year-olds and their families from regions challenged by deprivation using narratives of migration by the Windrush Generation, together with shipping and harbour-side technologies. The children will work with engineers to explore transport, heavy-lifting and shipping, based on an historic ship moored beneath cargo-cranes in Bristol’s Harbour. Bringing these stories to life will improve understanding and help to raise the aspirations of young people in Bristol as well as connecting them with their heritage.

The Ingenious panel was particularly interested in projects that focused on engaging underserved communities in some of the most deprived areas across the UK. Panel Chair Professor Anthony Finkelstein CBE FREng said “The Academy is passionate about engaging people of all backgrounds with engineering, and we have been particularly interested in reaching audiences not typically served by engineering engagement. This year we are delighted to have funded several projects that have made a commitment to carry out projects out with underserved audiences, like the iDiscover project, which is working with Pupil Referral Units to give students with additional needs a second chance and offering them an insight to the opportunities presented by engineering. We’re very excited to be supporting this new round of projects. We hope they will not only give the public an opportunity to connect with engineering but also give engineers the skills and confidence to talk about their work.”

Funded project list

Please note that all activities are subject to change in light of ongoing COVID-19 government guidelines. The Academy will be supporting projects to amend their activities where necessary.


CreateWorks: Engineers inspired by theatre. Theatre inspired by engineers, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh

CreateWorks brings together theatre professionals and engineers to develop creative and innovative methods to communicate and disseminate the complex and important work and research carried out by engineers. A group of 12 engineers will write audio plays, based on their research, which will be disseminated online. Up to 30 engineers will participate in professionally led theatre workshops to improve their public communication skills. A school resource and research pack will be produced and distributed giving secondary students the opportunity to understand how research and creativity can overlap to allow exploration of complex questions and how they can create their own solutions.

Northern England

Delight of Lighthouse, Toranj Tuition Hull

The Delight of Lighthouse project in Hull and East Yorkshire combines hands-on engineering workshops with local heritage. The project will bring together a diverse group of twenty postgraduate engineering students or professional engineers who will carry out engineering workshops and experiments with young people. They will build 3D models of the lighthouses and then, through the workshops, will learn about optical physics, structural engineering, electrical, acoustic, computer and mechanical engineering.

‘Climate Change Catastrophe!’ – co-creating theatre with children & engineers, Cap-a-Pie Engagements, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Climate Change Catastrophe! is an exciting project bringing together engineers, theatre makers and Key Stage 2 pupils. Cap-a-Pie and engineers from Newcastle University will engage local children in thinking and learning about how engineering is combatting and mitigating the climate crisis and will co-create a new performance sharing the children’s views on climate change. The project will engage with schools from some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the city creating opportunities for children who are less likely to engage in engineering or creative activities.

Elevation – building structures and confidence with the Shadsworth community, University of Central Lancashire

Elevation – building structures and confidence with the Shadsworth community aims to deliver engineering workshops and build the confidence of residents of one of Britain’s most disadvantaged communities. Elevation will engage people of all ages and backgrounds, many of whom have never experienced engineering before, and work with a range of user groups of the Shadsworth Hub Community Centre. The project will end with the Shadsworth ultimate challenge to build the World’s biggest den out of recycled materials in an attempt to enter into the Guinness Book of Records.

MakerMove: Think like an Engineer, University of Sheffield

MakerMove: Think like an Engineer is a programme of engineer-led activities designed in partnership with volunteer engineers to support an interactive mobile makerspace to engage groups at risk of social and digital exclusion including children, families and young people. The free-to-access makerspace will provide opportunities for engineering-based learning and creativity using 3D printers, robotics, coding, electronics, construction and materials, at 25 venues in the heart of some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in South Yorkshire.

Engaging Communities Through Engineering & Cultural Heritage, Bright Box Makerspace, Sheffield

Bright Box Makerspace are partnering with Halifax library in Calderdale to create a permanent Makerspace in the heart of the community. As part of this project Bright Box will provide public engagement training for engineers to create and deliver sustainable and engaging workshops to children and adults that focus on Engineering and Cultural Heritage. The engineers will be working with children and adults from backgrounds underrepresented in engineering. The project aims to help engineers feel confident engaging underrepresented groups so that children and adults have access to positive role models and make links between their own local heritage and engineering.


Energy Engineering Skills for the New Industrial Revolution, University of Birmingham

Energy Engineering Skills for the New Industrial Revolution aims to raise awareness of Tyseley Energy Park and its role in the region's transition to a zero-carbon economy, and to engage school children and the community with energy engineering and the diverse range of careers and skills the profession offers. The project will design and deliver public engagement events and associated resources will be provided for primary and secondary schools in the Tyseley and Hay Mills area of east Birmingham. In addition, it will provide skills training to children, families and the community, and seek to inform and engage on the range of engineering career opportunities. These activities are part of a developing programme of outreach and engagement activity around the Park, aiming to ensure the community is not left behind by the new Industrial Revolution.

Mini Pioneers, The Smallpeice Trust, Birmingham

Mini Pioneers is a joint project between the Smallpeice Trust and the Birmingham Museum Trust engaging children, and their families, from the most deprived areas of Birmingham. It aims to change perceptions of engineering, through Primary Engineering Enrichment Days at 10 schools for 600 Year 3 children. The project will work with stakeholders across Birmingham using a participatory design approach to develop the project's core elements; the in-school Primary Engineering Enrichment Day and the Engineering Celebration Day. Up to 40 engineers from local companies will assist in delivering the project, who will be trained in outreach and public engagement so they can effectively engage with the public and be better able to tell their story.

South West

Migration and the Windrush Generation: New Ways of Communicating Engineering, MV Balmoral Trust, Bristol

Migration and the Windrush Generation: New Ways of Communicating Engineering is an inspiring project based in Bristol that aims to tell a story of diversity, migration, and the engineering that underpinned it all. This project brings 8 to 12-year-olds and families from regions challenged by deprivation to be engaged in engineering using narratives of migration by the Windrush Generation, shipping and harbour-side technologies. The children will work with engineers to explore science through transport, heavy-lifting and shipping, celebrating migration with elders from the Windrush generation. Volunteer engineers will work with small teams of children to explore the ship before building model ships that explain construction, stability, propulsion and navigation. It is hoped by bringing these stories to life, it will both raise understanding, and the aspirations of young people in Bristol as well as connecting them with their heritage. The project aims to capture a new audience for engineering through engaging children with a powerful emotive issue.

Perfect machines: engineering a superhero, University of Bath

Perfect machines: engineering a superhero is an innovative project working in collaboration with Green Ginger Ltd, a multi award-winning puppetry company based in Bristol. Together they will develop an interactive performance to allow primary school children to explore how human movement is underpinned by engineering principles. Engineers will be recruited and trained to employ creative storytelling techniques to highlight how these fundamental principles have been applied by engineers to improve, for example, an athlete’s performance, or in the design and development of replacements for worn out joints in our body. The engineers will receive training in puppetry, storytelling and the performing arts and will take part in the delivery of the performances to primary schools and at science festivals within the South West.

From making microscopes to finding microbes, University of Bath

From making microscopes to finding microbes is a project that will allow engineers and Key Stage 3 Pupils to develop education materials, and to test and refine them in a series of engagements and workshops. The project aims to show engineering is a crucial, but often overlooked part of modern medicine. The OpenFlexure Microscope is a fully automated diagnostic microscope that is based around a Raspberry Pi and can be built in a couple of hours from 3D printed parts. This breaks down the perception of medical devices as “black boxes” that are too complicated to understand, exposing the importance of engineering in biology and medicine. Pupils will build microscopes, then use simple coding to perform experiments like hunting for microscopic organisms. Along the way, they will learn about how engineers designed the OpenFlexure Microscope, how it is being produced in Tanzania, and how it is now being trialled for malaria diagnosis. The project will share educational resources through the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s e-learning platform to reach far more young people.

South East

iDiscover - introducing students with additional needs to STEM careers, Inspire! EBP, London

iDiscover programme is an innovative STEM engagement project targeting students and young people who have been excluded or have left mainstream school. Believing that all young people deserve a fair chance to succeed, Inspire's mission is to deliver high-impact services which help young people find their strengths and thrive. Building on the success of Inspire’s STEM programme for primary schools,iDiscover will support young people who have been excluded from schools in Hackney and surrounding boroughs by providing an inspiring exploration of the world of work in growing sectors such as engineering and technology. Young people in pupil referral units (PRUs) are at risk of being excluded from society and being groomed into gangs. This programme improves their understanding of the jobs that are open to them in the future, re-engaging them in their learning through fun, experiential activities, and ultimately raising their aspirations.

Street Engineers, Holborn Community Association, London

Holborn Community Association’s Street Engineers project aims to increase young people’s understanding of engineering and increase their skills as well as drawing on local engineering knowledge and resources to have a positive impact on the local community. The Street Engineers project will consist of half termly creative STEM projects for disadvantaged children aged 7 -12 in two local estates (Bourne Estate and Tybalds Estate) in Holborn, London. The workshops will focus on engaging disadvantaged children with applied science and engineering, encouraging them to look at issues in their area, and develop their own innovative, creative solutions. Children will identify a different issue each half term that is relevant to them and their community (e.g. how to bring more light to a dark alley or how to make the local play area more accessible for disabled children) and will work with the project co ordinator and a team of engineering volunteers to find creative solutions and create prototypes.

Tomorrow’s Home 2050: Visions of Home-based Healthcare, University College London

Tomorrow’s Home will be an immersive interactive space where the home of the future is brought alive. Inspired by the UKRI and Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Healthy Ageing Challenge, this innovative project will bring together engineers and members of the public of various ages and from underrepresented local communities in a shared experience of the benefits that the future will deliver using healthcare technologies in people’s homes to facilitate independent living. Working with visual immersive engagement specialists The Liminal Space, art and design will be used to create unique experiences to transform what people think, feel and do. This project will create tangible elements of the future home in the present, allowing our engineers to experience and examine the potential impact of their work in people’s homes sharing insights and ideas about the development of these technologies through open dialogues.


Building to break barriers, University of the West of England, Lancaster University, Loughborough University

Building to break barriers will engage children with engineering through the innovative use of the creative, construction-based and extremely popular computer game Minecraft and inspirational role models. With children and engineers, the project will design and develop specific engineering-based outreach sessions, an assembly and free online resources, for delivery around the UK. The project will particularly focus on engaging under-represented groups in engineering, including children with special educational needs and disabilities, children from deprived areas, women and girls. The project will recruit a diverse group of engineers to work with the children and will provide them with engineering outreach training, resources and support. The project team will produce a practitioner guide based on project outcomes, to inform future practice, which combined with the online resources will enable more children to benefit beyond the project lifespan.

Engineers of the Future Podcast, Reby Media

The Engineers of the Future podcast series will share the stories of early to mid-career level engineers who are making a positive contribution to the world’s greatest challenges from creating clean energy solutions to breakthroughs in medical devices and electric vehicle development. These are the people engineering a better future for all of us because engineers are incredible at finding solutions to problems - and today we face some of the biggest challenges that the world has ever seen from climate change to urbanisation - however, engineers are not always good at talking about their work. Training will be provided to the engineer in communicating their story and they will be supported in sharing their podcasts effectively on social media platforms from iTunes and LinkedIn to YouTube, Twitter and Reddit. Young people are more socially aware and digitally connected than any generation in history. Audiences of all ages have turned to social media for inspiration and information and here, no matter what the platform, they will find the ‘Engineers of the Future’.

Kids Field - engineering solutions to the climate emergency, Woodcraft Folk, multiple locations

Kids Field is an exciting project which aims to raise awareness of the role of engineering in addressing the climate emergency. Climate change is very topical, with many young people concerned about their futures. Working as a cross-sector partnership, involving Universities, an Eco-Centre and a youth charity, this project will recruit, train and induct 50 young engineers to act as peer educators at festivals. Kids Field aims to promote greater public awareness around engineering and its great contribution to our lives. The Woodcraft People will also be joined by Festival Republic and Julie's Bicycle Powerful Thinking Campaign to specifically address the use of energy at temporary, off grid outdoor events such as music festivals.

Notes for Editors

About Ingenious

Ingenious is a grant award scheme, run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering. The scheme is supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Ingenious programme aims to:

  • inspire creative public engagement with engineering projects
  • motivate engineers to share their stories, passion and expertise with wider audiences and develop their communication and engagement skills
  • raise awareness of the diversity, nature and impact of engineering among people of all ages and backgrounds
  • provide opportunities for engineers to engage with members of the public from groups currently underrepresented in engineering.

Ingenious has funded over 200 projects to date, providing opportunities for close to 6,000 engineers to take part in public engagement activities, to gain skills in communication and to help bring engineering to the very centre of society. Ingenious projects have reached over 2.5 million members of the public.

The next round of Ingenious is open for applications in July 2020.

About the Royal Academy of Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone.

In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public.

Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

What we do


We’re growing talent by training, supporting, mentoring and funding the most talented and creative researchers, innovators and leaders from across the engineering profession.

We’re developing skills for the future by identifying the challenges of an ever-changing world and developing the skills and approaches we need to build a resilient and diverse engineering profession.


We’re driving innovation by investing in some of the country’s most creative and exciting engineering ideas and businesses.

We’re building global partnerships that bring the world’s best engineers from industry, entrepreneurship and academia together to collaborate on creative innovations that address the greatest global challenges of our age.


We’re influencing policy through the National Engineering Policy Centre – providing independent expert support to policymakers on issues of importance.

We’re engaging the public by opening their eyes to the wonders of engineering and inspiring young people to become the next generation of engineers.

For more information, please contact:

Yohanes Scarlett at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: | 020 7766 0618

E: | Yohanes Scarlett

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