Thanks to everyone involved: the organisers, the other engineers and especially all the school students for their excellent questions and lively comments. I was very impressed with the questions, which covered all kinds of aspects of engineering and science as well as what it’s like to actually be a working engineer. My favourite questions were: “How many cups of coffee did you drink today?” and “If you won the Nobel Prize, who would you thank?”. That question about the Nobel Prize was really interesting, I thought; not that I expect to win it any time soon but it’s good to be prepared, right?
Another thing I liked was the fact that though it’s a competition, we were not being too competitive about it. In chat sessions where they were several engineers involved we were all supporting each other and pointing out the interesting things that the others were doing. Not so much “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, more like “Strictly Come Dancing”. Maybe you could call it “Strictly Engineering”.
It was also great to see how many female engineers were involved. There are a lot of girls who are thinking about getting into engineering but they don’t have so many role models to follow as the boys do. It’s good to show how women can become successful in all the different branches of our subject.
I think the most important advice for anyone at school is to find out as much as you can about all the different careers available. That’s the main thing which this competition does – it gives you a feel for what it’s really like to do a job in engineering. That’s useful because most engineers do jobs where they don’t come into direct contact with the public, unlike doctors and lawyers, for example. If as a result you decide it’s not for you, that’s fine, but at least you have something to go on.
Now, what am going to do with the money? Resisting the temptation to buy more coffee…I will be giving it to my friend Tony Robinson. Tony is a colleague of mine here in Trinity College; he’s an engineer who works in the field which we call “thermodynamics”, which means he’s thinking about heat and energy. For some years now he’s been working with people in Africa, trying to help them by using his engineering expertise to come up with simple solutions which can be used by some of the poorest people in the world. See for example his project on cooking stoves which generate electricity for people in Malawi: http://www.tcd.ie/mecheng/research/fluids-heat-transfer/projects/stove.php
I’m rather sad thinking that there won’t be any more questions coming in to me this week. So if you do have any, you can find my email address on the Trinity College website. Good luck to the next generation of Engineers!”