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The IET Faraday Challenge meets the Faraday Battery Challenge

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Michael Faraday, born back in 1791, was an inspirational man in his time. The discoverer of electromagnetic induction, the principle behind the electric transformer and generator in 1831, he continues to be an inspiration to scientists, engineers and technicians.

Faraday’s name has a long affiliation with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and its education programmes and more recently the Faraday Battery Challenge as part of the Industrial Strategy.

Both of these programmes are helping to keep Faraday’s name alive as we look to the next generation of engineers and battery development.

The IET Faraday Challenge

The IET Faraday Challenge, now in its 10th anniversary year, is a national engineering-based competition for primary schools and secondary schools which aims to inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians.

Faraday Challenge Days make a difference. After taking part, children are 21% more likely to consider studying or working in engineering. 100% of teachers who have taken part say that they would recommend the IET Faraday programme to other teachers.

A range of free materials for inspiring the next generation of engineers

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) also provide a huge range of tools and materials for teachers including lesson plans with full curriculum links and suggestions for differentiation, film clips, podcasts and posters. All the resources are available online. We have two websites – one aimed at secondary schools and another aimed at children aged five to 11.

These are powerful resources for teachers (and they’re all free).

Two young female future engineers working on a project

Primary and secondary students addressing a real engineering problem

With our yearly Faraday Challenge Days, teams of pupils from up and down the UK go against the clock to research, design and build a prototype solution to a real-life engineering problem. This year we’ve teamed up with THORPE PARK Resort for the challenge. This challenge aims to encourage more young people to study and consider exciting and rewarding careers in STEM by using creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills in a fast-paced, modern engineering challenge.

Over 25,000 students have taken part in the challenge so far

Since its launch we have had 25,800 students take part in a challenge, with the numbers increasing year on year. This year we have 169 events taking place across the UK to host the challenge. Up to six teams of local school students aged 12-13 years will compete at each event to find the best solution to a secret engineering-related challenge we’ve set with THORPE PARK Resort.

Young future engineer, little girl wearing yellow safety glasses & hard hat.

Experience life as an engineer and win £1,000

Students who take part, experience what it’s like working as an engineer through hands-on and practical engagement with real-life challenges. The challenge days give them an insight into the life of a real engineer, the variety a career in engineering can offer and just how exciting and creative engineering is. This year’s top five teams from across the UK will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the national final at THORPE PARK Resort in July 2018 to compete for a cash prize of up to £1,000 for their school.

Computer generated image of a battery being charged in an electric vehicle

The Faraday Battery Challenge

On the 24 July 2017, Greg Clarke, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced that the Faraday Battery Challenge will invest £246 million over the next for years in research, development and scale up facilities to accelerate the UK to world-class in battery technology for the next 10 years. Cost-effective, high performance, durable, safe, low weight, and recyclable batteries are needed to power the next generation of electric vehicles (EV).  They will differentiate the cars we want to buy in the future.

The challenge is to bring a range of areas together

The UK must meet this challenge.  We are currently one of the top three car manufacturing countries in Europe and we are good at it.  163,000 people are employed in the UK Automotive Sector – they produced 1.7 million cars (excluding commercial vehicles) in 2016 for global export as well as our car market.  We are particularly good at making internal combustion engines building 2.5 million units in 2016.  We are also renowned for being at the cutting edge of battery science.

The challenge is to pull these together over the next 10 years to build a UK that has a thriving electric vehicle battery supply chain and manufacturing industry as sales of hybrid and electric vehicles increase.  We want to retain the current manufacturing investment and also attract further investment by these global car companies to manufacture batteries in the UK.

illustration of an electric car showing a white car with a plug image on a green background.

Creating UK jobs

The aim is to create UK jobs that power the future of global transport.

The programme is doing this by:

  • Creating the Faraday Institution – a £65 million virtual battery university to recognise and invest in the talent we have in fundamental battery science.
  • Running collaborative research and development competitions - £88 million to invest in the most exciting innovations in battery technology by UK companies over the next three years.
  • Building a National Battery Facility using £80 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to allow companies of all sizes to scale up and prototype new battery technologies at production scale.  Getting these new products to market sooner.

Facing the biggest challenge of all

The business and technical challenges are clear and you can read more about them here including the description of why the UK Government has listened to the sector and understood the need to move now.

More than just a business or technical challenge

It is not just about the business and technical challenges however.  It is about how we pull together as a team allowing more businesses in the UK to succeed in the global market for battery technology.  Indeed, when Greg Clarke announced the Faraday Battery Challenge he described it as part of the Industrial Strategy which must be a joint national endeavour to create the future jobs and strong economy that benefits everyone in the UK.

young boy engineer working in a workshop creating a robot.

Grabbing the attention of tomorrow’s engineers today

This means we need a skilled workforce in battery technology and engineering coming forward in the next 10 years. This means children in primary and secondary school and adults in the UK need to learn the skills needed to make this a success over the next 10 years.  But the UK has a shortage of young people becoming engineers.  The IET Faraday Challenge grabs the attention of people when they’re still at school and showing them the creative side to engineering and helping them feel this could be a career for them, is building our future in the UK.

3 pop art images of an excited female engineer wearing a suit and a yellow hard hat.

The need to communicate that engineering is creative and exciting

There is also a myth that engineers are all men who wear hard hats on construction sites. Engineering can be creative, exciting, hands-on or office based - the diversity really is amazing.  A diverse workforce brings teams where everyone can be themselves and different solutions are considered. Research tells us that these teams can deliver much more and this is why the IET campaign of ‘9% is not enough’ referring to the gender split in engineering is absolutely right.

A passion for inspiring the next generation of engineers

We are passionate about inspiring our next generation of engineers. The IET’s Faraday Challenge is part of a wider programme that the IET has developed. As a charity, and Europe’s largest professional engineering organisation, the IET is committed to demonstrating the relevance of the profession and introducing a new generation to the sheer excitement of science, technology and engineering.

Using real life engineering examples to inspire

THE IET Faraday Challenge programme aims to make lessons even more interesting by showing that the learning has real-life applications using case studies that showcase some of the most innovative examples of current engineering and technology from around the world.

Two dedicated websites - for secondary and primary schools

There are two websites – one aimed at secondary schools and another aimed at children aged five to 11.

Image of a power meter for electric car showing an image of a car with a plug and battery levels varying from empty in red to full in green.

Helping solve a suggested shortfall of 20,000 engineers annually

It’s not clear if many people outside the engineering world know the huge challenges that we face. We have a shortage of skilled engineers in work now and a shortage in those training to be engineers. Engineering UK’s 2017 State of Engineering Report suggests this shortfall is about 20,000 annually.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology is here to help in multiple ways

The IET is working hard to close the gap in the UK. The IET Faraday Challenge and education programmes are just one important area, we’re also providing bursaries for students, leading on apprenticeship support for businesses and helping new graduates as they start their career.

Helping engineers across a range of sectors

The IET covers all disciplines of engineering from a range of sectors, such as energy, civil, defence, transport and manufacturing and that ensures we can support people in the careers so that they don’t get stuck in one sector with skills that are transferable.

The skills needed for us to be world class in vehicle battery technology

These are the skills that the Faraday Battery Challenge needs for the UK to achieve world class in vehicle battery technology.  We also know most engineering companies are worried about recruiting more people with the right skills.  We can’t just do what we have always done, we must change how we work, so we can leap forward.

Working together just makes sense. And it is through teamwork that we will create the UK that will power the future.

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