Advanced Digital Engineering – Access for schools

Lead name:
Martin Brown
Collaborating Institutions:
Aircelle Ltd., Burnley; Unison Engine Components; Burnley College
Funding call:
RAEng - £6,740
Programme contact:
Royal Academy of Engineering
This project wants to implement an inclusive novel method of getting ‘hard to reach’ students across Burnley and Pendle region to consider Engineering as a career destination. This will be achieved by organising a series of workshops for students utilising our recently developed ‘Tele immersive Digital Manufacturing’ lab at the UCLAN Burnley campus, followed by industrial visits for students in some leading engineering companies in the region. The sessions shall be designed and delivered by UCLAN and other associated industrial partners. This interaction of students between the ‘real engineering world’ (in industries) and the ‘virtual digital engineering world’ (in digital manufacturing lab) is designed to provide information and advocacy in a manner which would be appealing to students/groups, and would be able to raise their aspirations.
Project Aims

This project aims to increase the number of young people interested in studying engineering disciplines from the Burnley area, particularly from the ‘hard to reach’ group considering that a significant population in the region traditionally do not consider HE Engineering as a career option due to various socio-economic factors.


A novel approach: A report published by RAE in 2007 have suggested that ‘much more must be done to ensure that school students perceive engineering as an exciting and rewarding profession that is worth pursuing.’ By introducing a novel approach of interaction between real and virtual engineering world in the ‘tele immersive digital lab’, the students shall have a ‘hands on’ experience on cutting edge technologies like laser scanning, RFID tracking and computer vision. Once the students have the feel of ‘we are also capable of doing it’ attitude, they can tour the ‘real engineering world’ in industrial visits to be arranged by our industrial partners. They can visualise and comprehend similar technologies in industrial scale with leading aerospace industries (partners).  

Outcome: Students from those communities who are difficult to access through traditional classroom based resources, career fairs etc. shall have an unique opportunity to explore engineering in a fascinating way which is more likely to raise their horizon, as well their aspirations.


Widening participation: The project aims to involve the school teachers and to some extent family members of the students in some ‘hard to reach’ communities. Particularly, the project wants to raise the aspiration level for students who may well be the ‘first in family’ to consider HE Engineering as a career destination, and answer their questions for issues relating to ‘routes for a career in engineering’.

Outcome: This would particularly enthuse school teachers and encourage them to explore areas of development and new means to guide their students to fulfill their career goals. By involving family members of the students (in the form of feedback), the project shall raise the awareness level of the target groups which also play an important role in determining the career choice of their children.


Involvement of other HEIs/employers etc.: A widening participation of HEIs and other organisations willing to support the event and share our experience, shall be beneficial in developing a collaborative effort in future for developing similar programs on a larger scale in the region. Our industrial partners in the project and potential employers in the region who are keen to participate in the events and enhance their corporate and social responsibility. Further, it is also a god exercise to inspire and enhance the skill of their potential future employees.At the end of the workshops, the students would have an opportunity to discuss issues with UCLAN’s career based staff who engage with and affect students’ choice/options. Further, the project would also involve participation from actual role models, employers and other HEIs such that a positive view of ‘engineering your future’ are represented at all levels

Outcome: Increasing number of students from similar backgrounds within the region opting for HE Engineering, benefiting the employers and HEIs (students intake) in the long term.




The project recognises the need to improve the aspiration levels of not only the students, but their families and the wider community across the Burnley region. By seeking feedback from the students’ families and teachers, the project hopes to achieve the aim of raising the awareness and aspiration levels of all concerned parties who may also contribute significantly to the career progression in engineering for the students. By further engaging the HEIs, career groups and role models in the actual event and disseminating the findings to organisations like, Lancashire SETPoint, AimHigher, LEBP, BITC etc., the project implements a holistic approach in promoting Engineering education to the target groups, simultaneously exploring the opportunity to identify the best practices that can be replicated on a larger scale in future.


If you wish to know more about this project, please contact the Programme's Engineering team at with Reference Number: FP013 OCT2010.

Latest updates

This project is now complete and the case study is available from the right hand menu.

Sapna Somani 16.04.2012

This project is now complete and the case study is available from the right hand menu.

Sapna Somani 16.04.2012

Contact Martin Brown