The project has been backed by nearly £100k in funding

Date posted

23 January 2024


Girls, young carers and children from other backgrounds which are underrepresented in engineering will be offered educational kits as part of an Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) project designed to bring STEM-related subjects to life.

‘Libraries of Inspiration’ has been awarded a grant of £99,700 from The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Impact Programme to launch in areas across central Scotland, including Edinburgh, West Lothian and North Lanarkshire.

The project, which is led by Dr Debbie Meharg from ENU’s School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment, aims to empower 12 and 13-year-olds to become future leaders in the engineering industry by demonstrating how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics shape the world around them.

It will see 10 subject-specific resources co-created by students, school staff, and academics, which are then housed in high school libraries.

The kits are to be designed for various underrepresented backgrounds, incorporating topics like fashion, film, and sustainability.

They will explore cutting-edge technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, sound, robotics, information systems, and AI – while using peer groups and role models to build confidence.

Dr Debbie Meharg, Associate Professor and Head of Applied Informatics at ENU said: “It’s really exciting to be launching a project which will encouraging girls, young carers, and underrepresented pupils to pursue computing and engineering careers.The Royal Academy of Engineering logo

“It is not just about fairness, it's about unlocking the full potential of these pupils, giving them opportunities and also for the betterment of society, the economy, and the field of engineering.

“The concept of a library provides a familiar and inclusive space for individuals to find agency and inspiration.

“It allows them to explore new technologies, break down barriers, and discover their own path.”

Libraries of Inspiration is one of three new projects to be backed by the Diversity Impact Programme, which aims to address unequal outcomes experienced by engineering students from diverse groups. This is the third round of grants to be awarded since it launched in 2021.

The Programme is funded through the Academy’s allocation of funding from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Joanna Whiteman, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “I find it impossible to overstate how vital it is that we find new and better ways to tackle the long-standing inequality of experience and outcomes for engineering students and graduates from underrepresented groups.

“So I am encouraged to see how the Diversity Impact Programme is unlocking such ingenuity on the part of staff and students as they collaborate to tackle this problem together.

“Emerging findings from the projects we have supported to date are already providing important insights into how universities can cultivate more inclusive cultures at a critical stage for aspiring engineers.”