What the Tech

Social impact

Imperial's vision is to pioneer new ways of enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with the wonder of science, engineering, medicine and business.

Societal engagement expresses Imperial’s commitment to share the wonder of what we do by engaging with the public – including schools, patients and local communities – to provide opportunities to share ideas and discoveries and to ensure that our education and research benefits society.

Imperial offers a range of opportunities for you to combine your passion for social action with your academic expertise, work experience and entrepreneurial spirit to benefit society and affect change in the world.

Innovative public engagement

At Imperial, we are continually seeking new opportunities to connect our research with fresh voices and experiences – and using these insights to help shape our research. This includes inviting the public to explore the unexpected side of science at Imperial Fringe events throughout the year and to see the very best in science and arts at the annual Imperial Festival, which features interactive activities, tours, inspirational talks, performances and engaging workshops. All events offer opportunities for students to volunteer.

Inspiring the next generation

Imperial College runs a number of in-school and on-campus activities for school children such as the FoNS Schools Sciences Competition, The Pimlico Connection tutoring scheme and a range of workshops and demo days at the Wohl Reach Out Lab.

There are also opportunities to spend an hour a week helping students and academics improve their English and sharing your experiences of the UK through the Conversation Project, or to mentor and motivate school children of all ages through IntoUniversity.

The Invention Rooms

Imperial's Invention Rooms is a platform for local community engagement. It was the first project of its kind by any UK university. This dynamic space in the heart of White City will give people of all backgrounds the opportunity to take part in creative and entrepreneurial programmes and hands-on making activities. Here, people can develop their creative ideas into real working prototypes. The Invention Rooms contains a variety of unique spaces, which include:

Advanced Hackspace – A cutting-edge workshop facility where students, staff and partners can work together to bring their idea to life by using the latest equipment in prototyping, modelling, and fabrication spaces. 

The Invention Rooms café –  A space for collaboration and innovation, serving both the community and the wider college. The café is a warm and welcoming space where you can grab a coffee, catch up with friends or do some work.

Our work at The Invention Rooms builds on a worldwide ‘maker movement’ in which the College has played a pioneering role. We have already seen many exciting results. Successful student inventions from our Advanced Hackspace (boasting over 2,000 members and growing fast) include Lifebox, a low-cost baby incubator, and GyroGlove, a glove to dampen hand tremors for patients with Parkinson’s. 

Volunteering opportunities through Imperial College Union

You can volunteer with fellow students, by taking part in student-led volunteering projects. Imperial has many volunteering societies that support a huge range of social causes. Whether you work for your local SoupRun or help internationally with Raincatcher, if you like working with fellow students and incorporate your own skills in computer science, engineering, medicine etc. there will be a project for you. 

Many ways to contribute to Imperial and its wider community exist across the College. You can support new students' transitions by becoming a member of the Welcome team. The College's Outreach Office host the Pimlico Connection programme, which allows you to be a tutor in local schools. You can also volunteer with What the Tech?! helping elderly members of the White City community to use their smart devices such phones and laptops or volunteer to help out at the Imperial Lates events.

Helping the local community

'What the Tech?!', a digital literacy programme founded by Imperial students, invites residents from the White City area to get help with their computers and gadgets. Aimed at local residents over 50, this informal gadget workshop was set up in partnership with the Edward Woods Community Champions in 2017. 

What the Tech!? is run by volunteer staff and students at Imperial who provide free weekly drop-in sessions offering tech support and advice for elderly residents in two community locations around the White City Campus. Volunteers help with a wide range of tech issues, from learning how to text and send photos, to creating videos and fixing printers.

Find out more about how you can volunteer here.

President's Award for Societal Engagement

The President’s Awards for Excellence in Societal Engagement are annual awards to recognise and reward staff, students and community partners who have delivered excellence in schools engagement, community engagement, engagement with research and/or patient engagement. In 2017 Imperial College established the Student Award for Societal Engagement, which is aimed at undergraduate or postgraduate students who have taken the initiative to deliver high-quality engagement activities with the public, schools, community groups and/or patients. This could include:

  • Improving the learning opportunities of less-advantaged young people, as part of our widening participation and schools engagement aims
  • Engaging the public with research, through a process of two-way engagement
  • Working in close partnership with local community and/or patient groups in response to a social and/or research challenge
Representing Imperial in prestigious international forums, such as the World Government Summit, is just one of the many career defining events during my Master's. Being only metres away from people such as Elon Musk, networking with charismatic students from other business schools and discussing global affairs with prime ministers and CEOs is something I will never forget.
Sotiris Kopatsaris
MSc Management and Future Leaders Scholarship
Sotiris Kopatsaris