Having come from a family of engineers, my father among them, I have huge respect and support for what I sometimes think is a misunderstood opportunity. Steve Jobs famously said ‘Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes...’ that is an engineer and never has there been a time when we have needed them more and, in particular, women engineers. Of course, you might question if that is not already being addressed by the Government’s push on STEM subjects, but I am not convinced that this is working particularly effectively. I also challenge the traditional assumption that you can only become an engineer if you have the prerequisite Maths and Physics at A-level.
So it was great yesterday to visit a new facility called the New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMiTE). It's an initiative backed by Government, educators, Olin College of Engineering in the US, and industry, to transform engineering education in Britain. Located in Hereford, NMiTE aims to become the first wholly new UK university in 40 years. The initiative was masterminded following reports from many employers that graduates, and especially engineering graduates, are not ready for work. They may have the knowledge that a degree provides, but do not have the tools to apply that knowledge. NMiTE aims to address this by creating a new model of teaching and learning, which in many respects reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the International Baccalaureate (IB).
Furthermore, like the IB, it will encourage intellectual curiosity, very much in line with the Theory of Knowledge component of the IB, as well as values and working with the local community as our girls do in the Creative, Activity and Service component. What was also reassuring to hear is that The Abbey’s commitment to public speaking, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, Young Enterprise, our House competitions, sport and the arts are producing girls that are ready for employment as well as university.
I will watch NMitE with interest and would urge others to do the same; it is very much what the 21st century is going to continue to be about.