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Ford Engineers Support Children's Learning Through COVID-19 Lockdown

Working with the nonprofit Primary Engineer, Ford Britain has offered students the opportunity to hear from Ford engineers

DUNTON, England — Ford of Britain engineers are supporting both primary and secondary schoolchildren's learning via a special online initiative during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The If you were an engineer, what would you do? competition, known as the Leaders Award and run by Primary Engineer, is offering pupils the opportunity to join online video interviews with Ford engineers.

Chief Program Engineer, EU Engine Programs, and Primary Engineer project champion, Sarah Haslam, is among five engineers taking part, including Scott Bell, Paul Cole, Zuleyha Emeni Brewer and Oliver Joris.

"The idea before COVID-19 was for Ford engineering professionals to go into the schools to talk and present about what we do as an engineer and give pupils the opportunity to ask us questions in a Q&A session,” said Sarah. "Because we cannot physically go into the schools, we are going to do it using video conferencing. Anybody can dial in, and everybody can join the online sessions from their home. It will have a bigger reach."


The online sessions will mirror the planned school visits, including an opportunity for youngsters to find out about the world of engineering and ask questions.

Primary Engineer—supported by the Ford Fund—is designed to spark an interest in engineering among primary and secondary school aged children.

Douglas Macartney and Krystyna Marshall stand behind children Maisie Crook and Savannagh Dunne surrounded by their creations
From left: Douglas Macartney with his flat-pack wind turbine that can be air-dropped into disaster zones and refugee camps, Maisie Crook with her water bicycle pump, Savannagh Dunne who designed a height adjustable sink, and Krystyna Marshall with her exo-skeleton jacket which replaces the muscles for sufferers of Spinal Muscular Atrophy SMA.

The If you were an engineer, what would you do? competition provides home resources available via the Leaders Award website: https://leadersaward.com/

Sarah said, "We're asking: 'What problem would you solve?' That's the key message; it's about solving problems, making the world a better place."

Primary Engineer's university partners select shortlisted and winning designs for their teams of engineers to make. Previous design projects by children have included a flat-pack wind turbine for refugee camps and disaster areas, a height adjustable sink, and a bicycle that enables people in developing countries to ride a bike to a water source and pump water up through the concealed hose by pedaling backwards.

UK Director of Primary Engineer, Chris Rochester, added, "If you were an engineer, what would you do? enables young people to understand the creativity and ingenuity in engineering by interviewing engineering professionals and identifying problems in the world and designing solutions to them. The online interviews will increase the number of pupils around the UK who will be able to take part."

The deadline to register for the Leaders Award competition has been extended to September 10, while the online interviews with engineers will take place throughout the coming months. For updates and news, visit the Leaders Award social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.