The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) is giving over £700,000 to eight UK university engineering departments, supporting projects that aim to improve diversity and inclusion for students.
This funding will help underrepresented groups break down barriers in the engineering field.
RAEng’s Diversity Impact Programme
These new awards are part of RAEng’s efforts to make the UK’s engineering workforce more inclusive. The programme addresses inequalities faced by underrepresented groups, helping to create opportunities for diverse perspectives and experiences in engineering.
Some of the funded projects specifically tackle challenges faced by students with intersecting disadvantages, like disability, ethnic background, and socio-economic status. These initiatives will give valuable insights into creating inclusive cultures in engineering education and the profession.
The successful bids include projects that develop entrepreneurial skills, provide mentoring, create toolkits for employability, and offer internships in sustainable engineering.
For example, the University of Bristol is using its £100,000 grant to help students from underrepresented groups through mentoring, systemic evaluation, and training.
The Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK) states that while 30% of engineering university graduates come from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, only 9% of UK engineers share this background.
To close this gap, several universities are teaming up with organizations like EqualEngineers and AFBE-UK on projects that support underrepresented students and increase diversity in engineering.
Projects Focused on Employability and Sustainable Engineering
The eight funded projects under the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Impact Programme are:
1. University of Bath – Building Unconventional Engineering Careers (£100,000)
This project helps engineering graduates from underrepresented groups by developing their entrepreneurship skills, confidence, and resilience.
It also connects them with a supportive business network and includes follow-up actions for their ventures.
2. University of Bristol – Capture, Evaluate, and Improve (Ca-pow!) (£100,000)
Ca-pow! tackles barriers faced by students with multiple intersecting markers of disadvantage in the Faculty of Engineering.
The project supports students from underrepresented groups through co-creation and co-delivery of workstreams, including mentoring, systemic evaluation, and training.
3. Canterbury Christ Church University – EDI Engineering Employability Learning Toolkit (£93,500)
This project launches a new equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) focused engineering higher education toolkit.
It aims to increase the number of women, Black, Asian, minority ethnic, and low socioeconomic status students in engineering. Students will work with EqualEngineers and other stakeholders to research and develop the toolkit, engaging in activities like networking and work placements to improve their employability.
4. University of Dundee – EMBEDD (Engaging Minoritised Beneficiaries in Engineering Diversity Development) (£97,000)
EMBEDD targets students and high school pupils from low socioeconomic backgrounds, focusing on intersectional issues impacting women, people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those with disabilities.
The project has two parts: improving career prospects for engineering students from underrepresented groups and inspiring school students from similar backgrounds to pursue higher education.
5. University of Hertfordshire – Building the Pipeline of Black Talent Across Engineering Courses (£61,000)
This project encourages Black students to choose relevant A-levels, engineering degrees, and careers in engineering.
It includes a five-day residential course at the University of Hertfordshire, Easter holiday revision workshops, and mentoring with current Black, Asian, and minority ethnic students.
6. Teesside University – Getting Local Students into Sustainable Research (£100,000)
Teesside University’s project is all about increasing the number of local students diving into postgraduate engineering research.
They’re gonna offer activities like paid research internships on projects that matter to the community. This way, students can learn digital skills and knowledge for sustainable engineering and net-zero tech—super important for Tees Valley’s economy and industry.
7. Ulster University – Girls, Let’s Get into Electronics (WE-Bridge-Program) (£70,000)
WE-Bridge-Program at Ulster University wants to narrow down the gender gap in electrical and electronics engineering courses.
The project focuses on understanding and tackling the barriers stopping girls from choosing physics and getting into the electronics industry. They’ve got cool activities planned like chat sessions and workshops with secondary school students and even teacher training.
8. University of the West of England – MAKERS: Repair, Sustainability & Community (£89,000)
MAKERS is all about improving the sense of belonging for engineering students from underrepresented groups.
The project connects these students with local maker and repair communities, where they can collaborate in hands-on workshops and make a difference together.
Who are the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng)?
The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) serves as the United Kingdom’s leading authority on engineering, functioning as a national academy with a rich history dating back to its founding in 1976. Originally established as the Fellowship of Engineering, the organization was granted a royal charter in 1983 and took on its current name in 1992. The RAEng is headquartered at Carlton House Terrace, a prime location that it shares with other prominent academic institutions.
As an independent body, the Academy plays a crucial role in promoting cooperation between academic institutions and the engineering industry, while also advocating for improvements in engineering education and policy. Through policy alliances and initiatives like Education for Engineering and Engineering the Future, the RAEng provides comprehensive guidance and insight to the engineering profession. Moreover, the organization is one of four agencies funded by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which supports efforts to enhance public understanding of science and engineering.
Diversity and inclusivity are important aspects of the Academy’s work. By creating the Proactive Membership Committee, the RAEng seeks to broaden the range of candidates for Fellowship elections, aiming to better represent the diversity of society at large. This includes efforts to increase representation of women, engineers from various industries and small and medium enterprises, professionals from emerging technology sectors, and individuals from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds.
These projects are set to run for 12 to 18 months, with everyone involved committing to making a big change.
They’ll join a community of practice so that they can learn from each other and help the broader engineering higher education sector.
The RAEng’s got its eyes on the prize: inspiring long-term change in university engineering departments and creating a more diverse and inclusive engineering world.
- RAEng awards over £700,000 to eight UK university engineering departments for diversity and inclusion projects.
- Projects aim to break down barriers for underrepresented groups in engineering and create opportunities for diverse perspectives.
- Funded initiatives address challenges faced by students with intersecting disadvantages, like disability, ethnic background, and socio-economic status.
- Projects focus on developing entrepreneurial skills, mentoring, creating employability toolkits, and offering internships in sustainable engineering.
- Several universities collaborate with organizations like EqualEngineers and AFBE-UK to support underrepresented students and increase diversity in engineering.
- The eight funded projects target unconventional engineering careers, intersectional barriers, EDI toolkits, engaging minoritized beneficiaries, building black talent pipelines, sustainable research, girls in electronics, and repair and sustainability communities.
- Projects will run for 12 to 18 months, with participants joining a community of practice to learn from each other and help the broader engineering higher education sector.
- RAEng aims to inspire long-term change in university engineering departments and create a more diverse and inclusive engineering world.