Planetarium show awarded funding for public engagement project to inspire engineers of future

Issue date: 09 May 2022


Explorer Dome
  • New round of Ingenious programme awards 23 projects with grants of up to £30,000 to support innovative public engagement
  • Projects are aimed at inspiring future generations of engineers

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced 23 new Ingenious awards for public engagement projects designed to inspire the next generation of engineers. The funded projects will engage communities across the UK on a variety of topics, including climate change, sport, cultural heritage, and increasing diversity and inclusion in engineering.

Among the successful projects is UWE Bristol’s We Make Our Future, an interactive and educational planetarium show for the next generation of digital engineers. Explorer Dome and the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol have created the experience to celebrate the ingenuity of human engineering. Full-dome digital projections allow visitors to view engineering marvels from history and explore the pros and cons of modern life. The planetarium show was previewed to the public at the COP26 Planetarium in November 2021.

The project will enhance the legacy of the show by reaching diverse young people from across the West of England with a schools’ tour. Experienced presenters from Explorer Dome will train regional engineers in presentation skills to inspire young people. Films of sustainability engineers at their workplaces will showcase how the engineering design process can address the climate and ecological emergency. The presenter-led planetarium experience will be delivered inside the immersive Explorer Dome in schools or remotely via Zoom.

The Ingenious programme started in 2007. Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, it offers grants of up to £30,000 to support creative public engagement with engineering projects while providing engineers with the communication and presentation skills to share their stories, passion, and expertise with the public.

Many of this year’s projects focus on heritage sites, sustainability and climate change, including some that coincide with upcoming cultural events. These include St Paul's Cathedral: Building the Dastardly Triple Dome which will explore the construction of the triple dome of St Paul's Cathedral, one of Sir Christopher Wren's most complex and awe-inspiring designs; and Sports Shoes - A Feat of Engineering which will introduce children aged 9-10 in Manchester to sports engineering and the design of sports shoes ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup tournaments.

Ingenious Panel Chair Professor Lucy Rogers said: “The ‘E’ in STEM is often silent – and currently many engineering stories from across the UK are not being told. The Ingenious programme provides engineers with opportunities to further develop their communication skills, enabling them to illustrate their work and inspire the public in new, creative ways.

“Engineering can mean different things to different people. These Ingenious projects can broaden perceptions of engineering to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to engage with the profession and access future-shaping careers.”

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