From reporter to robotics engineer: Jenni Falconer takes part in Amazon Future Engineer programme at Tilbury fulfilment centre

London, 25th October 2019. Heart FM radio presenter, Jenni Falconer, was in Tilbury this week learning about robotics in the real world through a new programme called Amazon Future Engineer, which aims to inspire UK school children of all ages topursue careers in computer science and coding.

Jenni and daughter Ella, eight, visited Amazon’s fulfilment centre on Windrush Road to experience a free robotics workshop, learning to programme palm-size robots that use similar technology to that which is used by the robots that fulfil customer orders across Amazon’s 17 UK fulfilment centres. The training – specifically geared towards primary school pupils – has been devised together with Fire Tech Camp and is accredited by the British Science Association.

Caption: By drawing lines with coloured pens and creating a code on a tablet, Jenni and Ella sent commands to palm-size robots that use similar technology to that used by kiva robots, which fulfil customer orders in Amazon’s fulfilment centres. 

‘Amazon Future Engineer’ is a comprehensive childhood-to-career initiative, with a goal to help more than one million children and young people of all backgrounds to try computer science over the next two years.

Paul Atkins-Barker, an Amazon tour leader running the programme in Tilbury said: “It was privilege to welcome Jenni and her daughter to Essex. We’ve opened our doors to show how coding and robotics are applied in the real world, giving children hands-on demonstrations using miniature robots then taking them on a tour of our fulfilment centre to show how the same kind of technology is applied right here where we work”.

Amazon Future Engineer has been launched as new independent economic research by Capital Economics reveals that the UK needs an additional 38,000 workers with computer science-related skills, including 21,000 computer science graduates, to meet labour demands every year. Without addressing this issue, the economy faces losing out on an estimated £33 billion per year by 2030.

Speaking after the workshop, Jenni Falconer said:

“When I was growing up, I loved computer science and unusually for my generation, I got to try coding at school and really enjoyed it. In saying that, it was a far more basic level then! Things have advanced so much today – the learning opportunities are endless. Now the world has moved forward, it is so important for all children to have computer science lessons, as well as hands-on experience of STEM projects that bring these subjects to life. What’s even more exciting is that today, girls, just as much as boys, are embracing and enjoying learning this information. My daughter has loved every second of today’s robotics workshop and what I’ve also learnt is that coding is really fun and anyone can do it! Thanks to Amazon Future Engineer, even more children will now also have an opportunity to have a go!”

As part of their robotics workshop, Jenni and Ella took part in a tour of Amazon’s Tilbury fulfilment centre which included seeing the Kiva robots in action and seeing how robotics is applied in the real world. 

As well as holding robotics workshops in its fulfilment centres for primary school children, for secondary schools, Amazon is working with the education charity Teach First to support the recruitment and training of 50 secondary school computer science teachers. They will also support with the training of over 200 Teach First ‘Careers Leaders’, a programme run by the charity which supports leaders in schools to develop a long-term school wide careers strategy to improve students’ opportunities. After two years of running Amazon Future Engineer in the UK, this investment in teachers is expected to benefit 50,000 secondary school students.

Part of their fulfilment centre tour took Jenni and Ella to a packing station at Amazon’s Tilbury fulfilment centre. 

In higher education, Amazon is funding 120 STEM apprenticeships in software development engineering, automation and advanced mechatronics – enabling a diverse range of applicants to enter the computer science field. In addition, Amazon is funding 20 bursaries for students studying computer science at UK universities, helping students from lower-income backgrounds to pursue technology careers.

Amazon Future Engineer is part of the Amazon in the Community programme, which aims to ensure more children and young adults have the resources and skills they need to build their best and brightest futures, especially those from lower-income communities in areas where Amazon has a physical presence.

Schools and families wishing to find out more about how Amazon Future Engineer is supporting teacher training, apprenticeships and bursaries, can do so by visiting:  

To find out more more about the Amazon in the Community programme, please visit: