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How COVID has driven interest in careers in engineering

22 February 2021

We have all learned a huge amount from the challenges presented to us over the course of 2020. It’s certainly not often that we’re presented with an opportunity to rethink our way of life and make real change in the world, yet this is the reality we’re facing as we’re starting in 2021.

One of the impacts of COVID is that science and engineering have become more prominent than ever before. From statistics and mathematical modelling to biotechnology, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on and enhanced the profile of careers in science across the board. It’s certainly increased interest amongst young people and is drawing more people into these careers. And it’s not just young people – NMITE has seen around 50% of applications for its Pioneer Cohort for its MEng in Integrated Engineering coming from those with prior work experience i.e. not those currently studying A Levels. 

Engineers and engineering shape the world we live in. The infrastructure we use, the transport systems that move us around, the energy we consume, the hardware and software we use on a daily basis that keeps us connected, safe, healthy, creative and productive. If those systems, programmes and products are designed by an overly narrow subset of the population with a limited amount of time to understand users and anticipate knock-on effects, then inequality and risk can be introduced without us even knowing. We firmly believe that more diverse engineering teams counter this – not only in terms of gender, but in class, ethnicity, disability and so on. Different perspectives are powerful in a sector that is inherently creative and impactful. Plus, the more appealing we make engineering, the wider a pool of graduates there will be for industry to draw on. Our aim is to recruit a diverse cohort, including learners who may not have considered engineering as a career. We are looking for entrepreneurial and socially minded individuals who want to change the world for the better so, as part of the admissions process, we will be evaluating a person’s attitude, mindset and passion for engineering alongside their qualifications.

I’m hopeful that the COVID pandemic will play a positive part in changing the future of engineering and particularly women in engineering. We know that female engineers tend to gravitate to more healthcare and biomedical engineering topics, and we believe we will see more applicants motivated by what they have seen in 2020 to think about engineering for their future, and we should encourage our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and students that this is a realistic and achievable outcome for them.

And it’s now also important that senior female engineers are making themselves visible, not only as potential role models for young people, but also to address stereotypes that exist within society about what an engineer is. We all have a duty to make change happen because the problems facing our diverse country won’t be solved unless we change our collective vision of what an engineer should look like. 

NMITE has been created to respond to the recognised and predicted shortage of engineering graduates, and to respond to industry feedback that graduates have become very discipline-focused but not work-ready to add value immediately. We will educate the future engineers of this country and continue to disrupt Higher Education to produce work-ready, diverse, socially aware, change-makers who will impact the world we live in and transform it for the better.

NMITE will open for its first students in September 2021 and we’re encouraging applicants to apply by 31 March 2021 to be eligible for Pioneer funding see https://nmite.ac.uk/study/join-pioneer-cohort.

For more information on NMITE, please visit: www.nmite.ac.uk.

NMITE was inaugurated on 19 October 2018, was listed in the register of English higher education providers by the Office for Students (OfS) in August 2020 and in November 2020 received validation by The Open University, the UK’s largest academic institution and a world leader in flexible distance learning, which means that NMITE can undertake recruitment of its Pioneer Cohort. The long-term goal is to be educating 5,000 students.


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