New Star Wars toy set to inspire young engineers


As the latest Star Wars film hits cinema screens, one of this year’s hottest toys, the Sphero BB-8 droid, highlights how creative engineering can be.

To coincide with the release of The Force Awakens, the IET and ITN Productions have joined forces to create a short video showcasing one of the latest toys from the film, the Sphero BB-8 droid, and to show the engineering behind it.

The Sphero BB-8 droid brings together some of the latest engineering technology. It is app-enabled, has an adaptive personality and responds to voice commands.

Twelve year old Mitzi, who appears in the video, helped to road test the device: I thought it was really clever how it was controlled by your smartphone, she said.

Product Design Engineer Mamta Singhal went on to say: Sphero is a really exciting product. I think that what’s so exciting about engineering is you get to show all these exciting products come to life. The technology behind it is obviously created by some really advanced engineers.

Toys and gadgets such as the Sphero BB-8 droid help to grow awareness of robotics and engineering among a much wider audience – and hopefully demonstrate to young people that studying STEM subjects can lead to an exciting engineering career.

With demand for engineering in the UK far exceeding supply, and with less than 10 percent of UK engineers being women, the IET hopes that engineering-inspired toys and gadgets will help capture the imagination of young people.

Research commissioned by the IET earlier in the year showed that 54% of children said they didn’t know anything about engineering careers. The research highlighted that girls are twice as likely as boys to say that they are not interested in finding out about careers in engineering, However, when shown more about what engineering could entail, 71% of children said they would be interested in pursuing a career in engineering.

As part of the IET’s Engineer a Better World campaign, ITN Productions was one of several organisations to take part in the IET’s Engineering Open House Day earlier in the year, inviting young people to see what it’s like to be an engineer and learn about the diverse jobs they do. More activities set to inspire future engineers are being planned for 2016.

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