Sir Peter Gershon and Sir John Armitt both make the case for engineering with students this week

2 July 2014

Sir John ArmittThis week saw two speakers inspiring students on the engineering front as a part of Speakers for Schools: Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and City & Guilds, and just today Sir Peter Gershon, Chairman of National Grid and Tate & Lyle.

Both speakers were on a mission to explain engineering isn’t all equations and cold calculation: it’s problem solving, creativity and it impacts all of society every single day.

Sir John Armitt had a chance to share his wealth of experience and lessons with a set of year 12s studying mathmatics and physics from Bishop Thomas Grant School in Lambeth. He gave a very frank overview of how he ‘fell into’ engineering, and upon going to technical college actually failed maths and physics, with a rare opportunity to retake these subjects and work part-time on a construction site. This lead to his eventual career in site management and staying with the company for 27 years and later overseeing the building of the London 2012 Olympic site.

Sir John Armitt gives advice on work experience after the talk.Sir John’s left them with a simple message: “Harnessing the power if nature for the benefit of mankind–that is civil engineering. That definition is what attracted me to it.”

Touching on related themes this morning, Sir Peter Gershon visited Queens Park Community School in Barnet to their Sixth Form about not only engineering as being absolutely pivotal in shaping the future of Britain, but the skills required for being successful in one’s career overall.

He told students how engineering will be a significant proportion of jobs, with the UK requiring 1.25 million by 2020. Sir Peter emphasised that beyond just technical skill, there are qualities such as the willingness to learn and be flexible as vital for success in any role.

“The skills you need to succeed more basic than you think… willingness to learn, problem solving skills, be a good team player and respect the diversity of intelligence and experience you will come across.”

Sir Peter speaks to the Sixth Form at Queens Park.These messages rang true from both sessions, with students getting a chance to ask for more advice from the speakers as the talk came to a close.

Thank you to both Sir John and Sir Peter for their time!