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4 ways you can inspire young people to become civil engineers

28 February 2024

The ICE has a range of activities that you can get involved in – consider becoming an ICE STEM Ambassador!

4 ways you can inspire young people to become civil engineers
Ellie Thomas, front centre, with ICE staff and members, and pupils from Ysgol Bro Alun, Wrexham

Inspiring diverse young people to explore careers in civil engineering is great for the industry – but also good for your own skills and professional profile.

Ellie Thomas, a graduate civil engineer from Atkins Ltd, won the top award for ICE STEM Ambassador last year.

She says: “I’m passionate about reducing inequality in the industry, to ensure we have a diverse workforce to solve the problems of the future and so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

“I’d encourage other engineers to get involved where they can – it is hugely rewarding and just one more way we can help solve the problems of the future!”

Whether you're a civil engineering student, graduate, or ahead in your career with a professional qualification, below are four ways you can help ignite the passion of future engineers.

First things first: become or renew your status as a STEM Ambassador

To get involved in ICE activities, you’ll be asked to register for free to become a STEM Ambassador.

Being registered means you’re committed to ensuring young people’s welfare and helps the ICE to support your activities.

UK-based members can get started by simply signing up with STEM Learning for child safeguarding checks and training, or renew their ICE STEM Ambassador status.

Make sure you select the ICE as your organisation when you sign up so we know you’re onboard!

1. Mentor A-levels students in the ICE CityZen Award

Approaching its fourth year in 2024, the ICE CityZen Award celebrates the creative and problem-solving prowess of young people aged 16-18.

By challenging them to tackle real-world issues through a digital game and video project, it fosters creativity and critical thinking.

Pairing aspiring engineers with ICE members as mentors enriches students' understanding of civil engineering and offers a glimpse into potential careers or further study within the sector.

And with over 1,000 students taking part every year, mentors are in high demand!

Mhairi Porteous, senior civil engineer at Fairhurst and the ICE STEM Ambassador who mentored the 2022 winning school says:

“I thoroughly enjoyed supporting the pupils through the ICE CityZen competition and giving them an insight into the industry.

“It was extremely encouraging to witness the pupils enthusiasm towards the digital game and exploring their innovative ideas, which I hope they will bring to the industry in the future as practicing engineers.”

To participate as Cityzen mentors, members must be registered as STEM Ambassadors.

If you’re already an ICE STEM Ambassador, email [email protected] to register your interest in supporting the award in 2024.

2. Use the ICE’s careers resources

Going to a careers fair, running an office or school-based visit?

Why not get students onto ICE Inspire – the institution’s immersive virtual environment for young people – during the day?

There are loads of people and project case studies to find, plus quizzes linked to school STEM subjects.

If you want to hand out something useful to students to take away, get an activity idea or a careers talk template, check out the Membership Resources Hub.

Here you can order free printed careers leaflets for students 4-18 and download much more.

3. Spread the word about ICE’s civil engineering virtual work experience

The ICE’s virtual work experience programme offers on-demand access, allowing participants to complete it at their own pace and gain a useful, CV-enhancing digital certificate.

Civil Engineers: Shaping the World is available for students aged 14-18 in the UK.

It showcases how the profession contributes to safeguarding people and the planet, while squashing myths surrounding civil engineers and their roles.

Blake Scott, assistant consultant at WSP and past ICE President’s Future Leader who helped shape the programme, says:

“...We know that young people’s involvement is fundamental to finding solutions to some of society’s most critical issues...

“[The programme] is a brilliant opportunity for young people to showcase their ideas and potential through the interactive tasks.”

If you have connections within schools or educational networks you can make sure that teachers and pupils discover the programme and don’t miss out!

4. Volunteer to help a Girl Guiding group gain their civil engineering badges

The ICE formed a new partnership with three Girlguiding regions in 2023 to inspire more young women to pursue civil engineering careers.

A new civil engineering badge is at the heart of the partnership, encouraging Girlguiding members to learn about the profession and the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a career in this field.

Girlguiding units will run the sessions themselves but have the opportunity to request ICE STEM Ambassadors to support sessions.

Rachel Atwood, design coordinator at Graham Construction and guide leader, says:

“The activities prepared by the ICE and Girlguiding give girls a direct insight into the different aspects of civil engineering. You don’t need to be an expert in the field to deliver them!

“Challenge packs give leaders the confidence to run activities in areas they might be unfamiliar with, and show girls that STEM careers can be fun, engaging and match their interests.”

If you’re an ICE STEM Ambassador based in Northern Ireland, Wales Cymru, and London and the South East of England, get in touch with your local regional teams.

If you’ve got a question about inspiring the next generation of civil engineers, get in touch today!

  • Fatima Uddin, membership marketing executive at Institution of Civil Engineers