STEM Matters: Celebrating the #DifferenceMakers

Author : Mark Gradwell | Editor | EPDT

02 July 2020

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After celebrating its 149th anniversary on 17th May 2020, the IET (Institution of Engineering & Technology) has kickstarted the countdown to its 150th anniversary with the launch of its #DifferenceMakers campaign.

This column was originally featured in the July 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

The campaign aims to find and celebrate those who are using engineering and technology to solve a variety of global challenges facing society, and to share these stories beyond the STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) bubble to reach new audiences globally – helping inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and technologists.

From the engineers, technologists and innovators that are inventing in their workplaces, or even in their sheds and garages, to the engineering community projects responding to local issues, from activists and campaigners that are challenging the status quo to scientists and researchers discovering novel solutions. The IET wants to give a global platform to all these #DifferenceMakers to showcase how they are contributing to solving the grand challenges facing society around the world, improving everyday life and making a real difference – as well as, crucially, inspiring young people to take action themselves.

As 2020 highlights engineers, scientists and technologists on the global stage more so than ever, where their solutions to world problems and global emergencies means they are making differences that affect every person on the planet, the IET is calling on these difference-makers to come forward and share their stories for the world to hear. These #DifferenceMakers are the inventors, leaders, thinkers, makers, creators and doers. They will then be interviewed by young future influencers, chosen as part of the IET’s Youth Ambassador competition, to help tell the story of how they’re engineering a more sustainable world – and thereby inspire others.

Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

The IET also aims to establish a community of young #DifferenceMakers who will pledge to make some changes in their everyday lives – however great or small, inspiring others as they continue their STEM education and ultimately make their career choice. The IET will celebrate #DifferenceMakers of all ages, from the young to the most honoured and respected in our field, with the #DifferenceMakers narrative underpinning all its activities internationally throughout its 150th anniversary year.

Professor Danielle George MBE FIET, incoming IET President, said: “Although the world has changed since the Victorian times, one thing that still connects us with our history is that engineers continue to solve many of the challenges facing communities across the globe – making an ongoing difference to the world around us. Just as in Victorian times, society today still depends on the skills and innovation of engineers and technologists to improve our world and make it more sustainable.

Our 150th anniversary gives us a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our rich history. We want to use it to engage and inspire young people, so that engineering and technology are seen as a force for good and key to solving many of the biggest challenges facing our world. This seems particularly relevant with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, where we know that there are engineers and innovators making a real difference.

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Professor George is a Professor of RF engineering in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE) and Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning at the University of Manchester. She presented 2014’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (Sparks will fly: How to hack your home) and was awarded the Michael Faraday Prize by the Royal Society in 2018 for excellence in science communication.

As well as its #DifferenceMakers campaign, the IET has launched a Global Engagement Fund for its volunteers across the world to help them host special, celebratory events and activities in their regions. Projects include a Robot Fighting League challenge in Leeds, a showcase of female leaders in Malaysia,  a school engagement programme in New Zealand and a Carbon Net-Zero hackathon in India.

The anniversary year will also recognise the IET’s rich history and feature unexpected partnerships in unexpected places to inspire the next generation of engineers. The IET is due to feature at the UK Pavilion at the World Expo 2020, Dubai UAE, as well as launch a junior membership club.

Find out more about the IET’s #DifferenceMakers campaign as part of its 150th year at www.theiet.org/about/iet-150-anniversary/ – and you can also send your own nominations for #DifferenceMakers to iet150@theiet.org


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