University of Leicester’s Dr Suzie Imber joins Tim Peake in inspiring future engineers at Farnborough Airshow

Schoolchildren at Farnborough International Airshow were treated to a science lesson with a difference, as Dr Suzie Imber from the University of Leicester joined Tim Peake to kick off a national summer holiday campaign to get kids making, inventing and discovering what they could achieve as engineers. 

The Holiday Makers will encourage children to explore the world of engineering through fun activities, events and weekly challenges. The campaign is part of the government’s Year of Engineering, which is working with partners across the UK to bring young people face to face with engineering experiences and role models – transforming perceptions of the profession and tackling a major shortage of engineers in the UK. 

Launching the campaign, Tim Peake joined Dr Suzie Imber (Associate Professor of Space Physics at the University of Leicester and winner of BBC 2 show ‘Astronauts: do you have what it takes?’) to show schoolchildren the vital role engineers play in the UK’s growing space industry. 

Students were given the chance to recreate an experiment that helps us understand more about the surface of planets, and learnt about the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer which Dr Imber is working on alongside engineers as part of Europe’s first mission to the planet Mercury later this year. Continuing the celebration of feats of engineering, Tim Peake also joined the UK Space Agency as it launched a competition to name a rover which is being sent to Mars to search for signs of life. 

Transport Minister Baroness Sugg said:
“From space missions to technology that’s transforming the way we travel, engineers are the driving force behind everything we’re celebrating this week at Farnborough Airshow. 

“With funding for UK spaceports announced this week, this is a ground-breaking time for the industry with exciting implications for young people’s career aspirations – and it’s vital that we show children from all backgrounds how they could be part of the innovations shaping our future. 

“Giving young people chances to create, solve problems and come face to face with engineering achievements and role models is at the heart of the campaign, so I’m delighted to see that in action today as we call on families across the UK to get involved in The Holiday Makers this summer.” 

Dr Suzie Imber, from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said:
“It’s always a delight to open young people’s eyes to how exciting engineering and science can be and the government’s Year of Engineering campaign is a fantastic way that scientists like Tim and me can share some of the amazing research that is happening in labs across the country, and the vital role engineers play in this. It’s been great to show them the work that the University of Leicester has done for the BepiColombo mission to Mercury, just one of the many ways that Leicester is establishing itself as the UK’s space city.” 

There are lots of ways for families to get involved, from activities they can do at home or in the garden to workshops, exhibitions and challenges. Weekly challenges will be led by key partners including the RAF and the Science Museum. Children are encouraged to download a journal, collect badges and share what they have been doing for a chance to win some fantastic prizes. Activity ideas, an events map and Holiday Makers journal are all available at the Holiday Makers hub, and there will be lots of chances to get involved on social media using #TheHolidayMakers. 

The Year of Engineering is a government campaign that aims to give young people aged 7 to 16 a million direct and inspiring experiences of engineering, challenging traditional perceptions and tackling a lack of diversity in the profession. The industry faces a shortage of 20,000 graduates every year, only 12% of UK engineers are women and fewer than 8% are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. 

Farnborough International Airshow Futures Day is designed to encourage young people aged 11-21 to consider an exciting career in the aerospace sector.