For many, the term “smart manufacturing” doesn’t immediately evoke thoughts of STEM or cutting edge scientific research. In fact, the majority of people may not even know what it refers to at all. Furthermore, there is a widespread misconception that careers in the manufacturing sector are predominantly menial jobs with little room for growth or development – the reality could not be more different. The Education and Public Engagement strategy at Confirm addresses these issues by bridging the gap between academia/industry and the lay population and making the public aware of the research and developments in the manufacturing industry through Confirm that are ushering in the dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
This is achieved through the facilitation and delivery of novel and creative programmes targeting a broad demographic and age range from Primary schools right up to adults. The EPE programme was designed to incorporate elements from each of our key research areas (robotics, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, internet of things etc.) and their applications in the rapidly evolving manufacturing landscape. Our activities, particularly those aimed at primary and secondary school (such as “Factories of the Future”, Lego Robotics, ARA (Augmented Reality Art) etc.) also incorporate careers information and 3rd/4th level pathways, getting children to think about the jobs of the future and how technological innovations are going to affect how we live and work.
Aside from educational activities, Confirm researchers also participate in a broad range of events and initiatives targeting the general public such as the Pint of Science festival, National Science Week Festivals, the Ploughing Championships, Thesis in 3, FameLab. Industry and other key stakeholders are engaged through workshops, like the inaugural “Digital Twin” workshop in 2018, facilitating dialogue between the researchers and those who are affected by it.