GE asks students who most inspirational engineers are

Posted on 9 May 2011 by The Manufacturer

A GE survey has today showed engineering appeals to a new generation of young minds, who are proving to be increasingly interested in having an impact on society.

As part of a GE report on the future of UK engineering, The Young Minds Monitor saw nearly 900 UK engineering undergraduates being asked who are the engineers through history who most inspired them.

Asked the question “Who do you consider to be your hero/icon in your field?”, students gave a fascinating range of answers, from well-known historical figures such as Brunel, Einstein and Newton, to modern day technology icons such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and James Dyson. Half of those who made it to the top ten are British innovators whose work is still very much in evidence in today’s society.

Mark Elborne, president and CEO of GE UK, said: “Our research shows that iconic figures – both historic and modern – continue to inspire a new generation of engineers. We continue to see the impact of these icons all around us today; and our research shows that we have a proud tradition of pioneers and innovators in this country, which should be celebrated. With the very significant environmental, energy and healthcare challenges we face today and will face in the future, it is critical that we continue to inspire young people into engineering and science, nurturing future generations of Brunels, Newtons and Edisons.”

Asked what they thought the most world changing innovations were over the past century, the students put computers and electronics at the top of their list, followed, in order, by communications technology, transportation technology, power and energy technology and manufacturing and materials.

The GE Young Minds Monitor also found out what students see as the biggest challenges that engineering technology should tackle. In their opinion, energy is the top priority, followed by the environment.

The study indicated that young people are increasingly positive about the prospects of engineering technology in the UK, with 92% of students saying engineering technology has a “positive image” and the same number being confident or very confident about their career prospects on graduation.

Mark Elborne continued: “It is refreshing to see that a new generation is turning to engineering – not just because of the career or salary prospects, but because engineering gives them the skills and tools to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.”