RAC Magazine and H&V News are proud to jointly host this week’s Engineered by Dyslexia webinar that sought to focus on the benefits that neurodiversity has brought and can continue to bring to HVACR. You can find a breakdown of the opening session, which discussed the challenges and positives for better embracing dyslexia within engineering here. A number of industry experts and neurodiversity specialists from across engineering and education joined us for the event that you can watch in full in the player below or here.
The webinar also highlighted the significant potential for the HVACR sector to further benefit from the expertise of dyslexic people - if the industry can come good on its aims to be a more inclusive engineering environment. This inclusive approach includes ensuring there are different educational approaches alongside written learning that instead focus on developing practical skills that are needed within some specialist sectors.
One of the panel discussions during the webinar looked specifically at the need for expanding awareness of the opportunities within engineering and the HVACR industry the broad number of roles that could appeal to individuals across the neurodiversity spectrum.
Roseni Dearden of the International Network of Women Engineers said that a less ‘masculine’ and more inclusive engineering sector would be an important step to bring in a range of skills and expertise that can drive innovative new thinking for sectors such as HVACR.
Ms Dearden said that it was also important to embrace different ways of thinking that are associated to people with dyslexia already working within engineering. However, to do this, she stressed the importance of identifying and supporting people from a range of backgrounds through some of the traditional challenges associated with the condition. This support should focus on the different ways of working and training in industries such as engineering that can suit individuals with different ways of thinking and who can face difficulties aroundaccurate and fluent word reading as a result of dyslexia.
Paul Hull, managing director of the Commercia Group, said that like a number of the Webinar’s panellists, he had struggled in school with the largely non-practical requirements of education and not been aware that he had dyslexia until later in his life.
Mr Hull argued of the vital need for different approaches to education that involved a focus on more practical and vocational skills that can be better suited to individuals with dyslexia, as well as looking at emerging technologies that is often the focus of modern schools.
He said, “I just wonder really if we are letting down a generation of future engineers who don’t get that.”
A particular concern was about access to using tools and learning practical skills that might help steer people with an aptitude for more creative problem solving and engineering to the sector.
Mr Hull said, “I think a move back to some of the old traditional ways of teaching practical education is definitely needed.”
Ms Dearden agreed that opening up opportunities for apprenticeships and practical education would be beneficial for expanding the neurodiversity of people entering engineering and other types of career.
She cited her own struggles with the traditional academic environment in schools and universities when having to focus largely or entirely on written study.
Ms Dearden said she was struggling and near to giving up during her final year in university, but reversed the decision after having hands-on, industrial training that focused on the practical nature of engineering work.
She also praised the role of individual management when supporting individuals in the industry, citing the understanding of her own skills by certain educators who she was mentored by.