CHAIN London the showcase event, the first of its kind, was held on 31 October 2018 at One Birdcage Walk, the home of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. An inter-institutional event designed to engage, inform, and inspire early career engineers based in a specific area, CHAIN aims to inform the audience of the number and range of Institutions, their roles, and the features and benefits they provide.
First run in Manchester, the CHAIN events programme was the brainchild of Nick Valentine and Daniel Merrywether, two young members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, as a way of helping young members fulfil their potential.
“There is a gap in the market for young engineers,” Nick says. “There are lots of events around promoting STEM, but they only reach a certain point – there is nothing for those who are in STEM integrally but are yet to reach a senior position they feel comfortable in.
“We need to keep people at all levels inspired by engineering and help people to take a step back and have a look at the range of exciting projects that are going on across the industry.”
Nick first set up an event in Manchester as a way of bringing together the various local engineering groups that were operating in the area, and suggested the idea to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Young Members Board as something that could be rolled out to other regions across the country, starting with a showcase event in London.
Ben Mills-Wallace, who sits on the Young Member’s Board and the CHAIN steering group, says it was an easy decision to make and the event was quickly brought forward from an initial 2019 launch date after overwhelming support from senior members of the Institution.
“The idea behind the event is to try and get as many engineering institutions as possible involved to share their inspirational stories,” he says. “There are individual presentations from nominated speakers. We had five PEI’s represented in London, and we also had a number of stands open so attendees could network with people from the respective institutions. We were pleased that we had 10 institutions taking up slots for a stand.”
As well as getting to hear the inspirational stories of the speakers, young engineers also got an opportunity to speak with representatives of the institutions attending the event and find out more about what they have to offer.
“Being able to network with a range of institutions is fantastic for young engineers,” Ben says. “Being a professional mechanical engineer myself, I have not had that many opportunities to meet or network with other institutions, but going to these events means I get to hear a lot more about what is going on in the wider engineering community.
“Knowing more about what other institutions are doing has really helped me in my career, by providing me with information and references that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to access. Engineers are working cross-borders now in different disciplines, so it is really important to bring all of this knowledge together.”
Dr Nilla Karlsen-Davies, who sits on the Young Member’s Board and the CHAIN steering group, says the event also gave attendees the opportunity to hear from individuals of different backgrounds and how they have achieved success.
“The event showed great diversity and really displayed all the different areas of engineering you can get involved in,” she says. “There were some very distinctly different approaches to the way people got into engineering, and that was part of what we wanted to achieve.
“It makes it easier for the young engineers to see themselves in a career in engineering if they can see a variety of different routes into the career and different types of people from a range of different backgrounds achieving success.”
The organisers are now planning on taking the event to other areas of the UK, with talks scheduled for Bristol in February 2019, as well as a further event in Manchester in March. Alongside this, a tool-kit and guidance have been prepared to allow anyone to easily replicate the event in their local area.
CHAIN is the future of engineering, a focus on collaboration and joint work across Professional Engineering Institutions with the view of improving support and resources for the future generations of experts in the sector.