Engineers: what’s the big idea?

Engineering & Technology magazine is looking ahead to the general election by inviting engineers to propose one big project they’d want to get off the ground if they were prime minister.

The idea is prompted by the publication by a group of leading UK engineering organisations of a pre-election manifesto listing the actions they say an incoming government needs to prioritise.

‘Engineering the Future of the UK’ is backed by the E&T’s publisher the Institution of Engineering and Technology and other institutions, along with the Engineering Council, EngineeringUK and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Described as a ‘call for action’, its overarching message is that the UK is not fully leveraging the potential of engineering and that radical change is required in which government will play a central role.

Recommendations focus on five key policy areas:

  • sustaining and encouraging investment in skills for the future
  • making the UK a leader in low-carbon technology
  • capitalising on the value of the UK science and engineering research base
  • harnessing the power of public spending to encourage innovation
  • making greater use of engineering advice in government policymaking.

In the spirit of encouraging politicians to take more notice of advice from engineers, we’re asking asks readers to come up with one ‘big idea’ for a government initiative that links the other four themes by using public spending to develop the skills base, utlilise domestic research and make the UK a leader in low-carbon technology.

We don’t need a detailed business plan, although you’ll have to bear in mind that the project would have to be affordable in the current economic climate – by reallocating cash from other areas if necessary. Imagine if you like that you’re an incoming prime minister given free rein on the first day in Downing Street to push through a single project of your choice and have five minutes to convince your Cabinet to get on board.

It could be one big infrastructure development in the energy sector, something more distributed such as universal smart metering and broadband, or maybe a way of fundamentally changing Britain’s transport system.

Post your ideas here, or in the comments section of the news story on the E&T website.


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