Cranfield University's Centre for Competitive Creative Design (C4D) was cited as a prime example of how the arts can influence engineering innovation, at this year’s Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Mountbatten Lecture.
"Engineering and technology is an increasingly diverse and creative domain," said Professor Sir John O'Reilly, a fellow of the IET. His lecture encouraged engineers to emphasise their creative side so that more young people consider engineering as a career. He argued that engineers should embrace the arts as the key to creativity and as an important component of innovation, crucial to creating new products and boosting future competitiveness.
“The two sets of people could work well together and more emphasis on the creative side of engineering could improve the success of products”, added Sir John.
Engineering is keen to widen the pool of recruits to the profession. A recent study by the Royal Academy of Engineering identified a massive shortfall in the number of recruits saying the UK needs to increase by as much as 50% the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduates it produces.
The Royal Academy Lecture, Full Steam Ahead for Growth, advocated adoption of a wider acronym - STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.
The IET's 2014 skills survey raised concerns not only about the number of recruits to engineering, but about the diversity of the workforce, with only 6% being women.
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Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.