Colston Hall and Renishaw’s Beat Lab inspires next generation of engineers

Our partnership with one of the region’s most innovative engineering companies Renishaw is helping get arts, creativity and science to the forefront of education in the city.

Bristol Music Trust, the charity which runs Colston Hall and Bristol Plays Music, is working with Renishaw, a world-leading engineering technologies company which supplies products for wide-ranging industries such as jet plane manufacturing and brain surgery.

Together we have created a programme which helps schools incorporate creativity into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in the city and surrounding area.

The UK needs 1.8million new engineers and technicians by 2025 to fill a growing skills shortage, according to an Engineering UK report. One part of Renishaw’s response to this challenge was to support Bristol Music Trust to establish the music and technology initiative Beat Lab in 2016.

The programme, which will run in partnership with Conductive Music until 2020, works with over 700 pupils each year aged seven to 14 in schools across Bristol, giving them the opportunity to design and make musical instruments from fruit and vegetables using circuit boards and conductive ink which complete electrical circuits.

We’ve just released a film charting the first two years of the project, which aims to raise the aspirations of young people and choose careers as engineers, with an impact study by Bristol University already demonstrating that the programme is helping to influence students’ subject choices at GCSE level.

Speaking after a recent visit to Bedminster Down School to see the programme in action, Senior Metrology Engineer Richard Brimelow, who is a Renishaw STEM Ambassador, said:

“Many engineers say that they remember a fun experience early in life that led them to their career choice. The Beat Lab sessions offer this, but also require the children to be creative and apply problem-solving skills.”

“The UK currently has a shortage of skilled engineers and with these workshops and our wider education outreach activities, we aim to inspire children to take a greater interest in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths, so that the UK can continue to produce engineers with both the skill and creative flair required to solve our future challenges.”

Renishaw is also playing an important role in the £48.8million transformation of Colston Hall. The extensive redevelopment of the venue will include a new Renishaw-sponsored education room in the building’s renovated Victorian cellars which are to be opened up for the first time in 100 years.

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust, said:

“Renishaw understands the importance of developing the skills, interests and aspirations of young people, a vision which is at the heart of the Trust.”

“We hope that by providing an enjoyable and creative way for young people to learn about music and STEM topics together, the Beat Lab programme will lead to an increase in the number of students taking music and STEM subjects at GCSE and A level.”

Bristol Music Trust is also set to launch the Bristol Cultural Curriculum this summer which will further help schools to use creative arts disciplines to teach STEM subjects, and ensure a holistic, integrated education.