Creating the World’s Next Generation of Engineers

Posted by iChild, June 12, 2019 1:07 PM

By Tanya Howden, Learning Experience Designer, Robotical Ltd

Companies are shouting out for engineers and scientists but are currently struggling to find enough people with the core engineering skills they crave. There is a skills shortage and we need more young people with the drive and passion to not only fill the gap but help mould it for the future.

Marty-class-1

To fill that gap, we need to get more young people interested in the area of engineering and tech who have the skills to solve problems. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what engineering is really about? Solving problems? Struggling to see in the dark, someone engineered lightbulbs; food going off in the heat, someone engineered fridges; having a conversation with someone who isn’t nearby, someone engineered telephones.

If you stop and think about all the different objects and systems in place that we use every single day – someone had to plan the idea, design it to work with the world we interact with and build it so it can become a reality! That process needs engineers. That is why it is so important that we teach STEM subjects to students from a young age and make careers in that area an option for everyone to investigate and maybe one day pursue.

Gw-workshop

There are small things that everyone can start doing to showcase how important and exciting this area of industry is. Talking with young people about what engineers are and what they do is a fantastic start. Showing the diverse range of people who can be engineers is important – nobody should think that engineering isn’t something for them because of their gender, race or background.

Talking about this is great but actually getting young people involved in their own engineering projects subtly highlights the many different aspects involved in and the different kinds of skills and interests needed to make up a team. There are so many resources available now to parents and educators so don’t worry about having to introduce these topics by yourself.

I’m the Learning Experience Designer for a company called Robotical and we want to help create the next generation of techies and roboticists by showing students how exciting this area can be through our very own robot called Marty.

Scratch-marty-ppage

Marty is a buildable and programmable robot with an engaging personality and some unique dance moves. Being able to program something that you have personally built is a rewarding experience for students that allows them to break down all of the different skills needed in a team for robotics and tech projects.

We can’t talk about tech and robots and engineering without talking about programming. So many of the concepts involved in programming can be quite abstract and difficult to explain, which is why it is often seen as one of the scary subjects to teach. However, Marty is a friendly introduction to the world of programming for both students and teachers.

Starting off with using a simple block-based programming language called Scratch, students can click together different actions to get a sequence of actions happening and directly see how each block in their program affects Marty’s movements. Being able to physically see how each part of your program plays out in the real world lets students understand that their program is simply a list of instructions.

Marty-compschools

When students are ready for the next challenge, you can introduce text-based programming languages like Python. Making the transition to any text-based languages is a big step but with the help of a robot that students already know and have programmed, it can make the jump a lot less scary!

It is important that we continue to give students new challenges and highlight new and different approaches that engineers take to problem-solving. The industry changes so quickly and that’s one of the most exciting things about working in tech.

With tools like Marty the Robot, parents and educators can easily not only make the introduction to STEM but keep it going by challenging young people and extending their projects with the help of learning resources from companies like Robotical. We can change perspectives of engineering and close that skills gap, but it needs the efforts of everyone to get that pinwheel going!

By Tanya Howden, Learning Experience Designer, Robotical Ltd

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