BBC News – “Embrace the arts,” engineers told

21 November 2014 Last updated at 07:00 ET By Judith Burns Education reporter, BBC News

Embracing the arts can help with new products, says Sir John O’Reilly
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Engineering needs to emphasise its creative side to encourage more young people to take it up as a career, says a leading member of the profession.

Engineers should embrace the arts, Sir John O’Reilly, a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, argued in a lecture.

About 59% of engineering companies in the IET’s 2014 survey feared skill shortages could threaten business.

“There is nothing as creative as engineering,” Sir John told BBC News.

He says science, technology, engineering and mathematics – often known as “Stem” subjects, are vital for a modern knowledge economy.

But there is a massive shortfall in the number of recruits – with a recent study by the Royal Academy of Engineering saying the UK needs to increase by as much as 50% the number of Stem graduates it produces.


Delivering this year’s Mountbatten Lecture at the Royal Institution, Sir John argued that engineers should recognise the role of the arts in their work – among other benefits, this could attract more people into the profession.

The lecture, Full Steam Ahead for Growth, advocated adoption of a wider acronym – Steam, or science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.

Engineers should embrace the arts as being key to creativity and an important component of innovation, crucial to creating new products and boosting future competitiveness, he argued.

“Engineering and technology is an increasingly diverse and creative domain,” said Sir John.

Some university engineering departments already collaborated with art schools to develop understanding, he told BBC News.

…(read more).

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