When I signed up for “I’m an Engineer – Get me out of here!” (IAEGMOOH), I did not know what I was getting myself into. IAEGMOOH is a free two-week online event where school students get the chance to interact with engineers in an X-Factor style competition. During these two weeks students can ask questions in several 30 minutes live chats or in a forum.

Engineers register for this event by giving a one sentence summary of their work in as simple and fun terms as possible. I was very happy when I got invited to participate in the March edition of IAEGMOOH this year. In this edition, nearly 50 schools interacted with 25 engineers across 5 different zones on topics such as food, fuel, metre, surgery and robotics. I got chosen for the Robotics Zone to compete against engineers working on underwater robots, robots for the food industry and even Europe’s first Mars Rover!

Based on the live chats and responses to questions asked in the forum, the students would vote for their favourite engineer to win a prize of £500. The votes were collected throughout the duration of the event and each day during the second week, the engineer with the least votes got evicted. It was indeed a nerve-racking X-Factor moment as the names of those leaving the process were announced during live chats! The winning engineer of each zone will have to spend the prize money on activities to publicly promote engineering.

Although I did not win the competition, I survived the evictions and made it to the finals! These two weeks have been so much fun – but also challenging! In most of the live chats we were constantly bombarded with all sorts of questions ranging from “What is your favourite food?”, “What is the best thing about your job?” to “If robots more intelligent than humans are created, will they be able to create robots more intelligent than themselves?” and “Does being a female effect the way you’re treated being a scientist?”. Overall, it was amazing to see how interested students were in robotics!  I think it is fantastic that IAEGMOOH gives students the chance to ask questions they normally would not ask or could not get answered that easily.  

I hope that these two weeks have been inspiring to the students and will possibly have an ongoing impact on their career by giving them an idea of how versatile engineering can be. IAEGMOOH was also a great learning experience for me. I got to know what students are interested in (it is not just One Direction) and how to communicate my research to year 5 to 12 students. The most rewarding for me, however, was to see how students connected with us engineers.

I would like to thank everyone who made this event possible and such a great experience – especially the students! :)

Melanie Zimmer, CDT-EI Cohort 2 Student

More information about IAEGMOOH can be found here: http://imanengineer.org.uk/

Apply now for the next event, taking place 13th–24th June, at imanengineer.org.uk/engineers-apply

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