Through our public engagement champions initiatives the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) aims to encourage the development of a research culture that inspires the public, attracts people to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers and values interaction with the public in all stages of the research process.
Our four engineering champions and five information and communications technology (ICT) champions are leading a variety of innovative public engagement activities, with a particular focus on engaging more members of underrepresented groups with research. Activities range from developing podcasts and writing children’s storybooks to engaging with schools and community groups. These activities help ensure that EPSRC-funded research and innovation is informed by public concerns and values.
The champions also act as advocates and leaders for engagement, and promote and champion engineering and ICT research and its impact on society.
Professor Trevor Cox, University of Salford: Inventive Podcast
The Inventive Podcast uses storytelling to overcome barriers to public appreciation and understanding posed by engineering’s technical depth and complexity. The podcast explores different narrative approaches, interweaving factual interviews with engineers who have great stories to tell with fiction.
Dr Helen Bridle, Heriot-Watt University: let’s do engineering
The overall aim of the let’s do engineering project is to attract a more diverse range of young people to consider engineering careers. Engineers work together with filmmakers, illustrators, storybook writers, musicians, teachers, public engagement specialists and children to create sets of resources, including hands-on experimental activities, for use in a variety of settings.
Professor Lorna Dougan, University of Leeds: creative materials
Professor Dougan creates public engagement activities which embrace creativity to allow young people and families to explore and discover innovation in materials design. She is building a culture of creative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) public engagement, supporting two cohorts of ambassadors and developing a framework to embed creative-led public engagement within STEM research.
In 2022 Professor Dougan was awarded the BBS Elspeth Garman Prize for Public Engagement recognising her pioneering engagement work with diverse communities.
Dr Emiliano Renzi, Loughborough University: partnership for launching careers in engineering and sciences (PLACINGS)
In order to address the nation’s skill shortage in engineering, Dr Renzi designs activities to:
- demonstrate the breadth and importance of engineering research
- attract underrepresented groups to careers in engineering
- facilitate stronger connections between schools and industry
Professor Keeley Crockett, Manchester Metropolitan University: PEAS in Pods
PEAs in Pods aims to empower the Greater Manchester data science and artificial intelligence research communities to engage meaningfully with traditionally marginalised communities and embed coproduction methods into individual and institutional research processes and governance.
Professor John Terry, University of Birmingham: digital healthcare
Using challenges from healthcare as a motivator, Professor Terry will lead a programme of activities designed to increase confidence in the use of computer models and ensure that young people view computer science careers as diverse, valuable, attainable and fulfilling.
Professor Paul Curzon, Queen Mary University of London: Computer science for fun (CS4FN)
This programme builds on the successful CS4FN family of public engagement activities. Professor Curzon will focus on the diversity of computer scientists and the wide-ranging ICT research that they do, both in the UK and beyond, and the diversity of new and future job roles that use ICT.
Maryam Banduka (mentored by Professor Cathy Holloway), University College London: inclusive public activities for information and communication technologies (IPACT)
This project will bring disabled people as collaborators and experts within academic research and innovation through a series of public engagement and knowledge exchange activities to support inclusion of disabled people in ICT research.
Dr Ifat Yasin, University College London: bio-robots crawl, jump, and slither
This project aims to encourage and inspire school students to consider STEM subjects and careers. It will use as its foundation a teaching framework centred on robotics, with materials co-created with the teachers with an aim to establish a resource that can be used in curriculum teaching.
Last updated: 2 June 2023