"Engineering has a need to improve its reputation and sessions like the Raspberry Pi challenge are helping to show that engineering can be creative and intellectually rewarding."

Tim Ramsdale, Broadcom

Next generation of electronic engineers inspired by bio-machines & 21st century robots

Bio-machines and 21st century robots inspire next generation of electronic engineers

Press release: UKESF Summer School to increase EEE degree uptake and help safeguard £78bn industry

Students learning to use the Raspberry Pi

The UK Electronics Skills Foundation has held its third annual Summer School to help attract the next generation of electronic engineers and reverse a significant decline (44 pc since 2002) in those entering the subject at degree level.

The four-day course for A-level and Scottish Higher students uses design competitions, lectures and lab sessions to inspire them to be part of an industry that is continually advancing electronics technology for societal benefit. Topics this year include biology inspired machines, mobile robots and a design challenge using the Raspberry Pi.

At the recent launch of the ESCO report, an industry growth strategy created for government, the skills pipeline and the need to reach out to young talent was repeatedly cited by ministers and industry leaders as essential for safeguarding the £78 billion per year, 856,000 person UK electronic systems industry.

Held at Imperial College London, the Summer School responds to industry concerns on the lack of visibility of electronics careers among young people, which has led to the decline in degree uptake. 60 students from schools across the UK attended, up 50pc on last year’s course.

The UKESF has the financial backing from some of the UK’s leading firms that create or rely on electronic systems, with Jaguar Land Rover and Broadcom Foundation this year joining dedicated Summer School sponsors ARM, CSR, Dialog Semiconductor and Imagination Technologies.

The Summer Schools highlight the interesting and rewarding career opportunities within the sector and the UK industry’s global leadership position in the field. It is run in association with all UKESF affiliated universities.

“This initiative helps school students make informed decisions about university courses and gives them a taste of what’s involved in doing an electronics degree and the range of stimulating careers on offer to graduates. This industry underpins almost every sector so it’s vital to ensure the word gets spread amongst young people,” said Wendy Daniell, UKESF programme manager.

“The Summer School has become a very popular element of our programme and attracts strong industry support. But to reach even more young people, we need more employers to participate in this truly unique programme to secure the industry’s future, and we invite interested parties to contact us to find out more.”

Tim Ramsdale, VP for engineering at Broadcom, stated: “Engineering has a need to improve its reputation and sessions like the Raspberry Pi challenge are helping to show that engineering can be creative and intellectually rewarding.”

The Raspberry Pi itself is a great example of British engineering innovation. This small, low cost PC was created by Eben Upton, a Broadcom engineer and powered by a Broadcom BCM2835 chip. It provides thousands of young people with access to low-cost computers so that they can learn how to apply maths to computer coding and experience the interface with electronics hardware – both essential skills for tomorrow’s digital economy.

The course has been delivered in partnership with the EDT Headstart programme, which facilitates engineering and science taster courses at universities across the UK.

University of Edinburgh's Dr Adam Stokes explains his soft robots
University of Edinburgh’s Dr Adam Stokes explains his soft robots

UKESF was founded in 2010 to address graduate skills issues bringing together the public sector, leading universities and companies. The UKESF programme includes a scholarship scheme linking employers with top university students for sponsorship and work experience. Since 2010, 120 students have been awarded UKESF scholarships by 18 sponsoring companies and the number of partner universities has grown to 11. UKESF aims to grow further to help meet the industry’s demand for more electronics graduates.

Professor Peter Cheung, Imperial College’s head of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “As a result of the UKESF partnership, we’ve strengthened our ties with industry and been able to work collaboratively with other prestigious universities to attract more of the best young talent into this industry. UKESF has introduced us to more employers and we are delighted that they are supporting our students with scholarships and providing them with valuable employability skills before they graduate.”