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GE Foundation’s Next Engineers: Engineering Discovery explores ‘toxic popcorn’ scenarios with Staffordshire schools

March 04, 2022

GE Foundation’s Next Engineers: Engineering Discovery explores ‘toxic popcorn’ scenarios with Staffordshire schools

Almost 1000 Year 9 students across Staffordshire have participated in GE Foundation’s Next Engineers: Engineering Discovery program, with around 50% of students identifying as female. 

Next Engineers is focused on increasing the diversity of young people in engineering with Staffordshire as one of four global launch locations. The Engineering Discovery classroom sessions, run by local partner, Connectr, include hypothetical engineering scenarios such as designing a system to safely dispose of ‘toxic popcorn’ that threatens to destroy the city if not safely removed, and understanding buoyance through the submersion of fizzy drink cans.

Engineering Discovery is one of three parts that make up GE Foundation’s Next Engineers, which aims to inspire more than 3,500 local students aged 13-18, by providing first-hand experiences of engineering, and awarding financial support to pursue further education in engineering.

The Staffordshire schools which have already participated include:

  • St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy
  • Haywood Academy
  • Blessed William Howard
  • John Taylor Free School
  • Great Wyrley Academy
  • Alleyne's Academy

with more local schools signing up for the Spring/Summer terms of 2022.

Nicola Murphy, Senior Engineering Manager – Product Care, GE Renewable Energy comments: “Engineering Discovery is a way of providing the next generation with a chance to have the same ‘light bulb moment’ I had when I was younger, where you realise that your favourite school subject, hobbies, and passions can align with a career in engineering. Today (4th March) is World Engineering Day, which is a great opportunity to highlight existing talent and their achievements, but also to recognise the important role future generations of engineers will play in our world.”

Along with Staffordshire, Next Engineers is working with young people in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Greenville, South Carolina in the U.S., and Johannesburg, South Africa. Globally, the GE Foundation has partnered with FHI 360, an international non-profit working to improve the health and well-being of people around the world, to develop the program framework.

For more information about Next Engineers and the opportunities it has to offer young people in Staffordshire and the surrounding areas, please visit


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About Next Engineers

Next Engineers involves three programs to engage students and attract them into engineering:

  • Engineering Discovery for students aged 13-14 (Year 9) – designed to increase awareness of engineering as a viable career through multiple, short, one-hour exploratory sessions and hands-on activities – both in the classroom and in the community - connecting students to real engineers.
  • Engineering Experience for students aged 14-15 (Year 10) – a week-long immersive work experience. Students will interact with experienced engineering faculty and staff, complete design challenges solving real-world problems, and interact directly with professional engineers and business leaders.
  • Engineering Academy for students aged 15-18 (Years 11-13) – devised to guide and encourage students to pursue an engineering career path. Engineering Academy is a three-year programme for secondary school students helping them learn, think and act like engineers. This will provide 80 hours per year of out-of-school coaching, including longer challenges, a final year project, career coaching to expose students to different engineering pathways, and further education-readiness workshops. Students accepted onto engineering apprenticeships or engineering degrees will also receive financial support from the GE Foundation.

About the GE Foundation

The GE Foundation, an independent charitable organisation funded by GE, is committed to transforming our communities and shaping the diverse workforce of tomorrow by leveraging the power of GE. Through Next Engineers, we are increasing the diversity of young people in engineering. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter at @GE_Foundation.

About General Electric (GE)

GE rises to the challenge of building a world that works. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today the company’s dedicated team, leading technology, and global reach and capabilities help the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. GE’s people are diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest level of integrity and focus to fulfil GE’s mission and deliver for its customers. Learn more at

About Connectr

Connectr, formerly MyKindaFuture, is an award-winning HR tech platform for building businesses where people belong. Connectr turns D&I strategy into reality by creating a culture where everyone is included, from candidates to employees. Connectr's technology platforms enable businesses to engage, hire, retain and mentor their people of all backgrounds - so every person has equal power and opportunity to succeed. We understand that school outreach programmes that leverage technology as a force for good are key in creating deep and lasting relationships with overlooked talent groups at the beginning of their career. Learn more at

About FHI 360

FHI 360 is a nonprofit, international, human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Using a 360-degree approach, its team of more than 4,000 professionals helps create jobs, educate children, provide lifesaving health care and bring about positive social change. To ensure the fidelity of the model and success of the Next Engineers program, FHI 360 provides global program management and technical assistance to GE Volunteers and local implementing organizations.


Jack Quinney or Adem Johnston

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