Bringing Engineering to Life with BBC Active – Engineering Videos for Educational Use

Learning through video brings events to life. Engineering is a subject where man can achieve the seemingly impossible so there is no better way to engage and amaze your students than seeing great feats of engineering. BBC Active’s range of engineering videos offers an educational way for students to study the wonders built by man.

It is impractical to take students to witness key structures in real life, but video can communicate efficiently and, when well produced, it can almost feel like you are there. Through video, students can see and hear experts in the engineering field talk about the subject.

A video can be much more engaging than a textbook and it holds the students’ attention for longer. Video appeals to both auditory and visual learners and can improve student retention of information.

Selection of video titles for engineering

BBC Active has a wide range of BBC engineering documentaries suitable for use in training and education. From Building the Impossible and Building Wonders which look at engineering from an historical perspective, to the ever-popular Engineering Craft Studies which offers practical demonstrations of some key engineering principles in real situations.


Voyages of Construction

This is a captivating BBC television documentary series about complex engineering projects and how they were achieved. In this series we get a close look at three large projects with unprecedented access to previously unseen data. Powerful CGI footage explores the execution of each project. These are projects where billions of pounds are at stake; the technology is extremely complex. Students of these educational videos will get to see highly specialised staff at work and how they overcame problems in their projects. In this three-part series we look at engineering projects such as the building of nuclear submarines, the design and construction of Rolls-Royce Jumbo Jet engines at the manufacturing plant in Derby and the creation of firefighting robots.  This is real life engineering at its toughest.

Engineering Craft Studies

This series of 20 BBC programmes dates from 1972 but is still a popular choice for teaching the principles of engineering. Ideal for beginners, the series demonstrates the practical application of many engineering techniques in real life situations. Engineering videos in the series include: Safety, Heat Treatment, Electricity at Work and Friction in Engineering.

Building the Impossible

Building the Impossible is a 2002 BBC engineering documentary which takes an historical look at great (and bizarre) engineering projects of the past. A team of professionals have been set the challenge of recreating some of the world’s most difficult ventures. We follow them on their journey, from the initial evidence through to the final product, to see if they have succeeded in their mission. Students will find this fascinating series an inspiring programme that will help them to look for solutions to seemingly impossible challenges.

In the series we look at the creation of the first submarines and airships, the tombs of ancient Egypt and the tools of war in the Roman Empire.


Building Wonders


This is another historical look at engineering, this time with archaeologist Julian Richards highlighting great structures throughout Great Britain.  This six-part series provides a detailed look at these projects, examining how the different team members worked together to achieve their dream, and what motivated them in their task.

The series looks at the construction and maintenance of Gloucester Cathedral, the building of Concorde, Bristol’s Floating Harbour and the 5,000 year old Stonehenge.


To Engineer is Human – Horizon

Part of the Horizon series, To Engineer is Human is a fascinating and educational look at engineering failures throughout history. This engineering video offers a cautionary tale of human error which has led to major disasters throughout the world. We look to engineers to keep us safe in our homes, while travelling and at work. Our future engineers must learn from failure to understand complex designs and to make new engineering advances. Bold new ways of achieving great things pushes engineering techniques to their limits, which can lead to failure.  In To Engineer is Human, we take a close look at the risk factors involved in the everyday work of engineers. This is compelling viewing for engineering students.

BBC engineering programmes can be used for educational or training purposes with a licence from BBC Active. Each title purchased comes with a non-theatrical licence which allows you to show the programme in lectures, training seminars, at festivals or at exhibitions. A complete range of educational engineering videos are available.