From education to employment

From circus tricks to Caribbean sounds: Academy announces 26 new Ingenious awards for public engagem

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced the recipients of its 2019 Ingenious awards, made to projects that will present engineering in new and exciting ways to diverse audiences across the UK. From a workshop produced by real circus performers to a Caribbean carnival sound system project, people of all ages will have exciting opportunities to engage with the varied profession of engineering.

Twenty-six new projects have been funded this year under the Ingenious programme, which gives engineers an opportunity to share their stories, expertise and passion for engineering with the public, especially focussing on underserved communities, including women and girls, Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, and communities in socially deprived areas. The annual grants scheme aims to build capacity for public engagement in the engineering community, giving the engineers involved a chance to develop their communication and engagement skills.

In Scotland, the Ingenious Circus will bring together University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde engineers, Glasgow Science Festival, the Aerial Edge Circus School and local primary schools for a unique collaboration. Launching during Glasgow Science Festival and the James Watt bicentenary 2019 celebrations, the project will give engineers a platform to share their passion and expertise in a creative and memorable way.

The Blast Fest Caribbean Sound SySTEM Project will visit Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, bringing to life all the engineering behind carnival. The project will bring together engineers, carnival artists, designers and sound system experts to develop activities that bring to life the science, technology, engineering, art and maths that goes into producing Caribbean cultural festivals. Engineers will be trained to deliver pop-up, hands-on activities including making small replica reggae sound system speaker boxes, carnival floats and costumes to engage the public attending BLAST fest 2019. Audiences will learn about electronics, physics, computer programming and coding, sound engineering and speaker box design.

Primary school children in Northern Ireland will be able to peek into the exciting new world of the Internet-of-Things and use it to solve practical problems. Hands-on workshops, based on smart programmable devices, will be designed and delivered by engineers from Queen’s University Belfast. The Get-Smarter workshops will inspire young people to use the Internet-of-Things and will also open the doors of the university to the diverse communities that surround it, with a permanent Internet-of-Things exhibition due to open in the new Computer Science Building.

The Empowering Engineers project from Cardiff University will develop hands-on activities that will be piloted at Go Girl holiday camps, with lower socio-economic areas targeted and subsidised places provided. Engineers will run activities that will challenge the girls to design a non-invasive blood sugar monitor for people with diabetes that can be worn as a piece of jewellery, enabling them to learn about the engineering that goes into modern health devices.

Other projects funded this year include Epic Fail, which will challenge the “fear of failure” teaching young people the importance of trial and error; SMASHfestUK with Space Plague – an immersive experience that will create a touring theatre production to be delivered free of charge in economically deprived areas of Bradford and South-East London; and Photo-Electric Light Orchestra, which will give young people in North Wales the chance to use coding and light to create their own instruments.

Professor Anthony Finkelstein CBE FREng, Chair of the Ingenious panel, said: “The range of these fascinating projects, taking place all over the UK, show that engineering really is all around us, and will give hundreds of people the opportunity to get hands-on with engineering. Ingenious projects not only inspire the public, but give engineers the training and the opportunity to get out there and share their work. We’re delighted to support these projects that bring engineering to new audiences across the country.”

The full list of projects funded this year is:


An Interactive Engineering Exhibition of WES Violets, Women’s Engineering Society

As part of the centenary celebrations of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) thirty-six engineers will be trained in public engagement and given the opportunity to showcase their areas of engineering. The project will culminate in an exhibition of interactive, creative and inspirational pieces that represent the area of engineering in which the engineers work, while capturing the WES logo, a violet. It will provide members of the public with the opportunity to interact with engineers and broaden their understanding of the engineering industry, and what it means to be an engineer.

BLAST Fest Caribbean Sound SySTEM Project, BLAST Fest UK
Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham

The Caribbean Carnival is well known for its bright costumes, banging sound systems and spicy food, however, many people do not appreciate the amount of engineering behind it. The BLAST Fest Caribbean Sound SySTEM Project will bring together engineers, carnival artists, designers and sound system experts to learn, exchange and develop activities to communicate to the public the science, technology, engineering, arts and maths that goes into producing and improving the music and performance at Caribbean cultural festivals.

Space Plague: Immersive Engineering Experience, SMASHfestUK
Bradford and London

SMASHfestUK returns with Space Plague: Immersive Engineering Experience, which will create a touring theatrical experience, giving an unusual insight into the engineering profession. The show will play at two venues and be delivered free of charge. The project will see four daily live performances performed across Bradford and Deptford, as well as workshops relating to the event in three schools in each location.


The Ingenious Circus, University of Glasgow

The Ingenious Circus will bring together University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde engineers, Glasgow Science Festival, the Aerial Edge Circus School and local primary schools for a truly unique collaboration. Engineers and circus performers will work together to co-develop and deliver an engineering-themed workshop series. Launching during Glasgow Science Festival and the James Watt bicentenary 2019 celebrations, the project will give engineers a platform to share their passion and expertise in a creative and memorable way.

Robosense: Sensing Your Environment with Robots, University of Edinburgh

Robosense will give young people from West Lothian and Fife the chance to learn to program the Limpet robot. The Limpet is a low cost, robust robot that includes a low-power microcontroller with nine sensors, including temperature and humidity. Groups of local pupils will be invited to the University of Edinburgh for a day, where they will learn how the robots are designed and fabricated and will make their own robots.

Young Chemical Ambassadors: Diverse Engineers of the Future, University of Strathclyde

The Young Chemical Ambassadors Programme will train diverse engineers of the future to be ambassadors for chemical engineering. The project will use hands-on engineering outreach to accelerate improvement in the diversity of the future engineering profession, by engaging particularly with schoolchildren from low income backgrounds, females and those with additional support needs. Chemical Engineering researchers will mentor groups of local third year secondary school pupils with in interest in physics and chemistry to undertake mini chemical engineering research projects, before sharing the results with their classmates.

Ingenious on Tour, Glasgow Science Centre

Ingenious on Tour brings a Scotland-wide programme of school and community engagement, connecting Glasgow Science Centre’s hugely successful On Tour programme with engineers in the energy sector. The programme has recently expanded with the creation of Powering the Future on Tour, a programme of hands-on interactive exhibits, shows and workshops that allow audiences to explore how energy underpins our everyday lives. Ingenious on Tour will develop partnerships with engineers in the energy sector and allow them to engage hard-to-reach audiences, and tour remote and deprived areas of Scotland delivering a programme of schools and community engagement.

Building School Raingardens: Growing future Engineers for Greener Built Environments, Abertay University

Sustainable urban drainage systems such as raingardens can bring multiple environmental benefits from mitigating the impacts of climate change and flood prevention to pollution control. The key objective of this project is to raise awareness of the diverse engineering disciplines that come together to deliver these solutions. Working with schools the project will explain the urban water cycle and how raingardens fit into this cycle. Ultimately, it aims to provide a legacy that will promote a generation of future engineers from the schools that can articulate, motivate and demonstrate the need for greener built environments.


11 Mile Journey: Discovering North Wales’ Amazing Engineering, Techniquest Glyndwr
Denbighshire, Wrexham and Shropshire

A programme of celebratory events will take place in North Wales to mark the 10 years since the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal near Llangollen was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Techniquest Glyndwr will develop workshops and activities that demonstrate the amazing feat of engineering that makes the 11 miles of canal, including two aqueducts, so special, and engage local communities with the strong engineering heritage of the area. Activities will explore the work of Thomas Telford and his significant contribution to civil engineering, as well as looking at other engineering heritage linked to the World Heritage Site, such as the Ironworks and Collieries.

Empowering Engineers, Cardiff University
South Wales

Cardiff University’s School of Engineering will work with the Go Girls Academy and Girlguiding as part of their Empowering Engineers project. Engineers from Cardiff University and their industrial partners will receive public engagement training and will develop several hands-on activities. These activities will be delivered at Go Girl camps and Girlguiding groups and will be turned into online resources for other groups to use. The project will culminate in a two-day camp at Cardiff University.

Photo-Electric Light Orchestra, Bangor University
Bangor, North Wales

Coding and light will be used in this project, teaching school children aged 9-13 in North Wales to engineer musical instruments. The younger audience will develop their instruments implementing coding skills, while the older audience will develop their instruments harnessing the properties of light, using photonics as the source of production. The project will conclude with a musical performance at Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre.

Northern Ireland

Get-Smarter, Queen’s University of Belfast

Through hands-on workshops based on smart programmable devices the Get-Smarter project will introduce primary school students to the exciting new world of Internet-of-Things and teach them how to use it to solve real-world problems. Each of the activities will be designed and delivered by engineers from industry and the ECIT Global Research Institute at Queen’s University Belfast and held at W5 Science and Discovery Centre.

North West

Engineering the Human Body, University of Manchester

In this project, school children in the Greater Manchester area in key stage 4 will be challenged to ‘think like engineers’. They will be provided with a design challenge where they must apply engineering concepts to choose materials, design surface properties and determine 3D printing manufacturing parameters. The project will particularly encourage underrepresented groups including women, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those from low-income backgrounds to consider a career in engineering.

Engineer What’s Your Story, Lancaster University
Fleetwood, Lancaster and Barrow

Engineering and performing arts collide in this project, as engineers are brought out of the lab and into the classroom to develop their public engagement skills. Taking place across Fleetwood, Lancaster and Barrow, engineers will bring problem-solving experiences to disadvantaged pupils, giving them an opportunity to investigate problem-solving ideas and learn the fundamentals of engineering.

Future Engineers: Raising Aspirations in Partnership with Local Engineers, St Bede Primary Academy

There is a wealth of engineering opportunities in Oldham. At any given moment, around 500 engineering vacancies will appear on local job sites within a 20-mile radius of Oldham and industry leaders are struggling to recruit engineers. Yet Oldham struggles with unemployment and social mobility. The Future Engineers project aims to address this gap by providing training with an engineer and exciting classroom activities to all 91 primary schools in Oldham.

Engineering Hack Camp: inspiring the engineers of the future, Wigan STEAM CIC

Project partners Wigan STEAM, Edge Hill University, the Foundation for Digital Creativity and MakoCreate will collaborate to equip engineers across the North of England to plan and deliver sustainable engineering workshops to young people. Engineers will be recruited and equipped with the knowledge and skills to run engineering workshops. The engineers will then be paired with partners from a network of regional organisations including schools, colleges and libraries. Engineers and educators will co-design a portfolio of workshops to engage, focused on solving an issue linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

North East

Tales of Engineering, NUSTEM, Northumbria University

Tales of Engineering will connect professional engineers from academia and industry with young children (age 4-5) and their influencers. Participants will share the experience of reading an engineering-related story book, then jointly undertake an engineering activity, designed by the engineers, using everyday inexpensive materials that will reflect their jobs and the impact of engineering in the world. The project will take place in schools in Newcastle and surrounding areas and in other public venues.


STEAM – Bringing engineering to life with the arts, Déda

This project will work with Key Stage 2 students from three primary schools across Derby. It will aim to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds an insight into how engineering plays a role in large entertainment events. Students will be invited to an interactive workshop following a performance, where they willsee how tricks are performed, what role engineering plays in the process, and have a go themselves. This will be facilitated by engineers, Déda Artists, and teachers, who will run 12 STEAM club sessions in each school.

South West

Bristol Open Doors: Engineering Futures, The Architecture Centre

This project will see Bristol’s Architecture Centre work with teams from 10 local engineering firms to help each of them produce a built environment themed family event or activity as part of Bristol Open Doors, the South West’s biggest festival of architecture and design. The aim of the project is to both upskill engineers and increase engagement with STEM subjects amongdiverse audiences.

Epic Fail, Kid Carpet

Failure can be a hard lesson, but artist Ed Patrick – aka Kid Carpet – along with two engineers and a collection of young people and their families, will be producing a performance lecture to show how failure can have a positive impact on young people’s wellbeing. Epic Fail will use the lenses of engineering and art to explore failure as a virtue, using fun, engaging, interactive and participatory methods. Taking up residence in three Bristol schools, the project will work with 8-11 year olds and encourage them to re-imagine their school as a place of exploration where they can make, talk, create, play and test ideas.

South East

Are We There Yet?, Children’s Radio UK

This project tracks the progress of British roads, from the early muddy roads to the engineered Roman roads that replaced them, connecting towns and aiding security, only to be replaced again by tarmac roads built for cars. Today, our roads are transforming again, with new engineering practices and smart technology making driving faster, greener and easier. Are We There Yet? plays on the age-old phrase used by children, engaging them and their families with how our roads have historically been built, and in the process, young engineers are given the opportunity to improve their public engagement skills.

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make, University of Portsmouth

This project is focused on the problems associated with water pollution and drainage. Students will be challenged to investigate what happens to the water when it rains on their school and to dream up a solution to any problems they discover in the drainage process. The project will work with six local primary schools in Portsmouth; digital teaching resources and information relating to the project will be made available to any primary school to use after the project. Other local primary schools will also benefit from being able borrow any physical resources.

Your Town: Transformations by Young People and Engineers, Culture Shift CIC
East Sussex

Following a successful pilot during the Year of Engineering, and backed by Lord Lucas, the Your Town project is expanding. Initially, the project brought together staff and pupils from eight schools, representatives from local services and engineers in Eastbourne to tackle issues such as air pollution, safe cycling and city centre traffic. The project now aims to visit several seaside towns enabling more young people to develop a project concept that they believe will enhance their town.

City Survival, Guerilla Science

The rise of megacities is the focus of the City Survival project in London. With cities rapidly developing and over 50% of the world’s population living in urban areas, this project aims to bring engineers and artists together to empower young people and adults to discover future scenarios and develop solutions to the challenges surrounding increasing urbanisation and climate change. Through a programme of creative workshops, young people will work with engineers to produce school projects connected with the challenges of urban life.

Ingenious Creative Futures: Empowering Engineering Outreach, Imperial College London

The 4Cs – Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking and Collaboration Skills, have been identified by the World Economic Forum as crucial for the innovation-driven economy of the 21st century. Ingenious Creative Futures will provide training for engineers to deliver engineering workshops for students aged 9-16, focusing on the importance of the 4Cs. The workshops include low-cost team-based activities covering structural robotics, global positioning, structural and environmental engineering.

Escape the Classroom: Contamination Busters, Cranfield University

Taking inspiration from escape-room games for adults, pupils will solve environmental engineering problems in a scenario-based learning environment. The pop-up Escape the Classroom activity will utilise Cranfield University’s state-of-the-art visualisation facilities, which provide near real-time data from an on-site treatment works. Pupils will complete a series of problem-solving tasks to identify the cause of contamination, possible effects on the environment, and ultimately how to treat it and escape the classroom (laboratory).

Notes to editors

About Ingenious

Ingenious is an awards 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 2019.

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.


Yohanes Scarlett at the Royal Academy of Engineering, T: 020 7766 0618, E: Yohanes Scarlett

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