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Press release

  • 29 June 2005
  • Sussex helps to engineer new approach to science study

    The University of Sussex has been awarded Government funding for a new degree programme that will help to broaden the scope and appeal of engineering.

    The Department of Engineering at Sussex has been awarded £575,000 to help fund the promotion, development and teaching of a new undergraduate degree course called Engineering for Society. It is planned that the development of the project, in association with the Royal Academy of Engineering and 13 other partner institutions, will become a model for similar courses.

    The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) grant will fund two new teaching posts on the course, due to begin in October 2006, along with a field worker, who will introduce school pupils to the possibilities of the subject. The project will focus on schools in south London, where Sussex is already active in student recruitment as part of its widening access strategy.

    The aim of the new degree is to change the perception of engineering among school pupils by showing how engineering is a vital link between the discoveries of science and the needs of society. Students will study engineering subjects alongside other topics such as the environment, international development and education. Able, ambitious students who may not have the background traditionally associated with engineering applicants will be welcomed to the course.

    Professor Richard Stobart, head of Engineering and Design at the University of Sussex, says: "One popular perception of engineering is that of men tinkering with cars, but there is much more to the subject. The development of this new degree programme and the outreach to potential students offers an exciting opportunity to take engineering into new areas, providing solutions to problems that will benefit society. The world needs streetwise engineers who can create and communicate in industry, commerce and government. We'll be opening a whole new branch of the profession."

    The course is open to all interested prospective students, but it is hoped that the new approach will attract female applicants to a traditionally male-dominated subject, as well as students who might not have considered higher education - or science - as a study or career option before.

    Students on the course will work in project teams and combine their engineering studies with other disciplines, including the creative arts and social sciences. For example, students with interests in third world issues could focus on the role of sustainable technologies in developing countries.

    Professor Stobart says: "We are creating a window of opportunity for prospective students who would not normally consider studying engineering. It also opens up the possibilities for engineering projects of the future, by tapping into the skills and abilities of students with a wider range of academic backgrounds. There is also a clear need for this kind of approach in industry, as we look for new and innovative ways to cater for the complex demands of the modern world."


    Notes for editors 

    For information on the Royal Academy of Engineering, which promotes excellence in the science, art and practice of engineering contact Dr Claire McLoughlin, tel 0207 227 0510 or visit

    For further information on engineering at Sussex, see

    University of Sussex Press Office contact: Maggie Clune, tel: 01273 678 888 or email


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