THE BLOG

We Must Celebrate and Encourage Inovation to Solve Our Global Problems and Inspire a New Generation of Engineers

10/11/2015 11:46 GMT | Updated 09/11/2016 10:12 GMT

There are many universal challenges and big questions facing our world today. Questions such as: how can the planet support an ageing and expanding population; how do we make transportation infrastructures meet rising demand in the safest way possible; how do we devise smarter towns and cities; and what can we do to make our energy consumption more sustainable for the future? Engineers will be at the heart of resolving these issues. It is through their constant innovation that new ideas become a reality and our lives continue to be enhanced.

As the President of the IET, I get to see the innovative work that engineers do on a daily basis and it is exciting to see the creativity and passion so many of my fellow engineers have. The problem is that all this great work often goes unnoticed in the wider world.

By celebrating great feats of engineering we can encourage more young people, especially girls, to think about potential careers in STEM subjects. This will also ensure that the spirit of innovation is kept alive via a workforce that reflects the true makeup of our modern society - with people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs and sexual orientations adding to the huge melting pot of ideas.

Providing the engineering industry with a platform to highlight truly 'world changing' inventions and inspire the next generation of talent, the IET will shortly be unveiling the winners of its annual Innovation Awards. More than 70 innovations from around the globe have made the shortlist for the 15 categories, and reading through some of the entry forms, I am inspired and encouraged by the men and women who are inventing and pioneering some life-changing inventions.

Desolenator is one such example of an invention which I think will truly inspire the next generation of engineering talent. A new product shortlisted in both the Start-up and Sustainability categories, it offers the world's first completely sustainable and affordable household solution to help solve the impending global water crisis - using the power of sunlight. Backed by influential figures like Matt Damon and the United Nations Water Programme, this novel invention could change the way millions of people live their lives every day.

Also, the environment is a huge motivator for many engineers - particularly when it comes to driving forward products that deliver greater efficiency and the minimising of pollution. The Holst Centre in partnership with imec and Eindhoven University of Technology, is a great example of where a product of this type has been created.

This partnership has designed a compact, wireless battery for smart buildings of the future - which will be equipped with a multitude of wireless sensors. The Holst Centre and their partners have developed the wireless battery device to fully charge itself remotely using radio waves.

Another important contribution of engineering to our society is the one it makes to security. A new innovation from Metrasens, which uses quasi-static magnetic measurements to detect items like mobile phones as well as drugs, could hold the key to conquering the problem of contraband in prisons. This technology is already proving to be a commercial success internationally.

The IET Innovation Awards on 18 November are set to be a great showcase, not only of a wide range of life changing products, but of the engineering knowledge and expertise that have helped bring them into being. By showing, not just telling people about the exciting innovations our industry is responsible for, we can go some way to inspiring a whole new generation and ensure we have the skills we need for tomorrow, to engineer a better world.