Engineering a perfect STEM Experience Week

At the beginning of the October half term week, all that could be heard was the dull thrum of the minibus’ diesel engine as fifteen Year 10 and 11 girls sat together in silence. However, as the students were dropped off at the train station each day, the same minibus engine could barely be heard over the sound of fervent conversations and discussions about all the engineering things seen throughout the day.

Coming from schools across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, the girls were treated to seven half-day visits at different business locations around the region. The visits included a tour of some of the most incredible engineering facilities; from the bespoke finery of the Aston Martin manufacturing plant, where everything is customisable; to the clean rooms and vacuum chambers of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, where a speck of dusk or flake of skin could affect the journey of a 10-year mission into space.

It is no secret that the engineering sector in the UK has a severe shortage of female engineers, and the purpose of the week was to show the students that becoming an engineer can be achieved through a number of different career paths. The week included an opportunity to speak with and listen to engineers from all backgrounds, ranging from apprentices working on the next generation of electric cars, to orthopaedic surgeons and doctors crafting and knitting new materials to repair the human body.

The students got hands-on throughout the week, with challenges like building an electric motor, designing and building a chassis to race a remote control car and manipulating a robot arm to pick up a tiny block.

One student said of the experience:

“I would definitely recommend this week as it has introduced me to careers in Engineering, e.g biomedical engineering, which I would never have considered before.”

Another student said:

“It is a beneficial experience for people who may or may not be interested in Engineering to help them decide and experience different kinds of work.”

Christopher Duff, STEM Projects Officer said:

“The indelible images of the week for me will be the students succeeding at building their electric motors, the sight of a massive crane shifting rubbish to be burnt as energy and the different light bulbs that Aston Martin use to simulate the lighting conditions on different parts the globe to ensure the car being purchased looks how it will, driving in the country of its buyer.”    

Similar STEM Insight Weeks will continue in the February and May half terms, and in July.

For more information, please contact Christopher Duff – STEM Projects Officer [email protected]

 

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