U.K. marketU.K.'s Future Soldier / Science and Engineering Week a success

Published 28 March 2008

Two events — Future Soldier and National Science and Engineering Week — took place in London, showing how government, industry, and academia can fruitfully cooperate to promote science, engineering, and technology education

Here is an example of important and far-sighted collaboration between government, industry, and academia to promote science, engineering, and technology education — and make a contribution to the defense of the realm (ah, would that things were done this way this side of the Atlantic!): Holographic quantum technology and acoustic sniper sensors (see HSDW story) are the stuff of science fiction films — but they are also new defense technologies which could soon arrive on the battlefield. Future Soldier, an event held two weeks ago at London’s National Army Museum to coincided with the 7-16 March National Science and Engineering Week (see HSDW story) to demonstrated how U.K. defense firms including QinetiQ and the Ministry of Defense are drawing on science and engineering to develop cutting edge equipment for the armed forces. Some technologies are already providing troops with a battlefield edge in operations; others will need further development and some may be overtaken by new technologies before they make it to the field. Exhibitors at the event were joined by soldiers from Second Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), who have recently returned from a tour of Afghanistan. They demonstrated a range of personal kit which is provides greater capability, protection, and comfort for troops.

Every year the U.K. defense sector recruits many hundreds of science and engineering graduates and the Future Soldier event was held by the U.K. defense sector to mark National Science and Engineering Week. Other defense sector events included QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce, and Thales U.K. collaborating with a number of schools in various parts of the United Kingdom, together with the sponsorship of a science prize and the cubs/scouts science badge by Rolls-Royce. Specialists from the MOD also work with the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) and their “Go 4 SET” Scheme which aims to stimulate the interest of young people in science, engineering, and technology. The MOD provides support to teachers to deliver science and other important curriculum lessons via the free, online Defense Dynamics teaching resource. Covering themes such as mapping, flooding, genetic engineering, and survival skills, lessons apply theory in the real world and also encourage students to debate the moral issues behind the introduction of new technology.

In short, and as was the case in previous years, National Science and Engineering Week (formerly National Science Week) is an opportunity for people of all ages, areas, and organizations to take part in science, engineering, and technology activities. It was coordinated by the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) in partnership with the Engineering and Technology Board, and funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.