Yesterday I was doing some pro bono work to persuade 120 twelve-year-olds of the joys of engineering and, in my case, that engineering and a passion for the environment could go together. The event was organised by the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) and sponsored by the Institute of Engineering and Technology. I am a member of both.

With each batch of 20 youngsters I talked them through major environmental issues before focussing on climate change, its causes and the role of engineers in the causes (eg designing vehicles and power systems). We then switched to solutions and how engineers have a critical role (renewables, efficient vehicles etc). For the second half I split them into 4 teams and got them to redesign something. We got everything from a manure-powered car to solar powered hair straighteners. The best insight was from one lad who realised you could design the shape of a building to funnel wind through a turbine, but my favourite moment came from a young lad who had simply put some solar panels and a wind turbine on a building.
"What happens if the sun doesn't shine and the wind isn't blowing?" I asked.
He fixed me with a steely look and said:
"Then you're really knackered."
Quite.
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