Swindon’s success story 939

Swindon’s success story

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Swindon’s success story

The IET Swindon Local Network (LN) has grown to become one of the most active in the UK, thanks in part to MyCommunity bringing fresh blood into the committee.

The Swindon LN is based in a non-university town covering a relatively small area, but currently has in the region of 1,500 members. A long-standing network, it was originally set up back in the late 1960’s by engineers Ken Sherwin and Derek Bateman. The latter may be one of the longest serving IET committee members as Derek continues to be an active committee member even in his mid eighties, acting as its CONNECT representative and a professional registration advisor (PRA).

“We want the Swindon LN to be the number one in the UK,” says Mubbisher Ahmed, the network’s Publicity Officer. “We have a responsibility to enthuse the next generation of engineers and that is the driving force behind everything that we do.”

Promoting engineering to pupils

Indeed, the network is doing a lot to promote STEM careers and engineering in general to the community’s school pupils. This work has included supporting IET DIY Faraday Challenge Day training sessions across the region and running a stand at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

“That was a first for the IET and we even had a visitor from IET HQ who commended our efforts,” says Mubbisher. “The stand was so successful that we managed to give away 500 torch kits that we showed children how to make within hours of the start of the show! Over the two days almost 700 torches were built!”

Building ties with local industry

Building ties with local industries and organisations is an important part of the LN’s work, and as network Chairman Ray Lewington highlights, the partnership with the UTC has opened many doors.

Dan Sanders, IET Regional Development Manager for the South West UK works closely with the LN to build business relationships and is keen to praise the network.

“Swindon is one of the strongest LNs I work with. We share each others contacts and it’s about joining things up – through this the IET benefits by building relationships and getting new members on board and the LN benefits through these new ties to industry, giving them access to new contacts and venue opportunities as well as allowing them to build on the number of attendees at events,” he notes.

Growing a social media presence

“We now have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter,” he continues. “Our analysis has shown that each social media outlet attracts different members and therefore we’ve been mindful of keeping each one up to date with adverts for our upcoming events and reports of our activities,” Walter continues.

“An advantage we’ve found with MyCommunity is its ability to feed through both our Twitter and Facebook pages, thereby allowing members an easy way to see everything in one place. Of our social media outlets MyCommunity continues to enjoy the largest number of members, but the others are catching up.

“In addition to making posts relevant to the whole engineering community, we try and generate content and start discussions that are particularly relevant to the Swindon area. For instance, this is achieved by monitoring the local press and Swindon-focused websites. We’d love to increase the percentage of our local membership signed up to our social media outlets. Therefore this is very much work in progress and we welcome ideas from other networks,” he adds.

The Swindon LN has lots of plans already in place for 2014, all of which are aimed at attracting more engineers into the community and working closely with schools to promote engineering. It is also experimenting with new ways to reach each members, which includes filming more events to show on IET.TV. 
Blog IET Swindon Network 06/03/2014 1:52pm GMT

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