Good sports

Written by: Tim Fryer | Published:

Sport is a wonderful thing. It polarises and inspires, and it changes at the drop of a hat. At the time of writing, optimism fills the air as either England or Wales could effectively clinch a spot in the knock-out stages of the Euros and Northern Ireland could gain a historic victory. Admittedly by the time of reading, England could be facing a humiliating expulsion on account of fan behaviour and the other two countries could be facing difficult final group matches to stay in the competition. Elsewhere England have just wrapped up a series cricket win, Wimbledon is just round the corner, the travelling circus that is Formula 1 is making its way from Canada to this weekend’s new venue in Azerbaijan, rugby tests are scattered across the southern hemisphere…..and at the tip of this huge sporting iceberg is the Rio Olympics, which is only six weeks away.

Children generally engage in sport at a much earlier age than they do vocational subjects, so could this sporting enthusiasm be channeled more effectively to inspire engineers? BAE Systems certainly think so.

It has engaged in a long term tie-up with UK Sport and, as Eureka will report in the July issue, is helping British athletes in their bid for success at the Olympics. It is not just an altruistic venture of course. At a time when we have a well reported lack of engineers coming through the education system, it sees sport as an ideal way of influencing young minds. Nigel Whitehead, the company’s Group Managing Direct Programmes & Support, said at a joint UK Sport/BAE event: “The whole issue of inspiring the next generation translates universally because we need the next generation of engineers to be interested in science and technology and maths. And we need them to be interested before those subjects get difficult at school so they continue studying them, and we have a role in doing that. We have to keep feeding the pipeline and our relationship with UK Sport is helping us to do that.”

Olympic success is undoubtedly linked to enthusiasm for sport. If it has positive consequences for engineering then so much the better, and is it a model for other sports which are backed by excellence in engineering?

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