Sustainable Engineer Charu Gupta joins the RIBA Ambassador Programme

One of our Sustainable Engineers, Charu Gupta, has recently joined the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Ambassador programme, which works with local schools to inspire young people about the potential of the built environment. Charu takes over the blog this week to explain why she joined the programme and what she’s doing to prepare for her first workshop.

Why did you decide to join the RIBA Ambassador programme?

I first came across the project whilst browsing through the RIBA website. As I began reading about the Architecture Ambassadors programme and the way in which it inspires the next generation by doing workshops on architecture and engineering, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.

The main reason I found the programme appealing was the interest my own children have in my work. I often take my drawings home and encounter endless questions from my daughter, wanting me to explain the drawings or the research I’m reading. Architecture and engineering are often left out of the school curriculum, so I wanted to be a part of a project that taught children about the built environment the same way I often teach my daughter at home.

I was also keen to present architecture and engineering as a potential career option for young girls who may not always consider this sector as something that is accessible to them. The Architecture Ambassador programme, which partners with schools through RIBA’s National School Programme, seemed the perfect fit.

How have you been preparing for the workshop?

Once I signed up to the Ambassadors programme, I was given a coordinator to help guide me through the project. The support RIBA provides means that I always have a point of contact for any burning questions I have throughout the process – something I have found to be incredibly useful!

RIBA also organised a training workshop which gave me the chance to meet with fellow participants, the teachers from the schools we would be assigned to and the programme coordinators.

The workshop gave us an insight to the behavior of children at different ages, how to deal with difficult situations that may occur and helped us choose a theme with our partner teachers from the listed schools.

Do you have any ideas for your workshop so far?

I have been assigned to a year five class at Hollyfield Primary School and am planning a space themed workshop, focusing on the design of future habitats in the solar system.
I think using this theme will be a good way to pique their interest and we can declare them all as certified architects of the future at the end of the session – so the students get a real sense of achievement.

I plan on using a mixture of DIY design challenges to encourage the students to consider innovative problem solving through architecture and engineering. As a sustainability engineer, I think it is really important to incorporate the growing need for energy efficient projects and will ask them to include this in their designs. I plan on putting a big emphasis on making builds that are eco-friendly and sustainable to reinforce the positive impact energy efficient projects can have for future generations.

I also intend on helping the students to learn about the use of technology in architectural engineering, in the hope that this will give them a taste of how it will be to work in this sector in the future.

We are currently experiencing a real skills gap in the industry, so I hope that educating young people early on will help to guide them towards a career in engineering.