Edward Henbury - ExxonMobil
I started as an Apprentice, working in Instrument and Control at an ExxonMobil Oil Refinery. Here, I was able to continue my love of science and Physics because I basically wanted to know how things worked. At the end of my apprenticeship I qualified with an HND and then went on to study with Open University. For me, working and learning all seemed to fit together. The Open University highlighted many of the environmental issues associated with the oil industry and with lots of research I learnt how the industry can generally be environmentally sound, considering the modern day lives that we live.
I have now being working for 30 years within ExxonMobil and I am still amazed at the 1001 things we can make and do with hydrocarbons. I was introduced to the STEM Ambassador Programme via ExxonMobil, which made me think of all the times I was in a school lesson, wondering why I was mixing chemicals or doing mathematics, what’s it all for? So I developed a workshop to be delivered in schools about ‘Chemistry in the Oil Industry’. The issues that we face haven’t gone away and this is why the industry is still in desperate need of new carbon chemistry scientists and engineers. Science is a fun and rewarding profession and a great career choice for future generations.
Amelia Gould - BAE Systems
I always loved science and maths, but I didn’t know what my career options were with these subjects. I decided to become an engineer after taking part in a residential STEM event at Brunel University. I was awarded a university sponsorship by the Royal Navy and did my Officer training during my gap year, before starting a degree in Engineering Science at Somerville College, Oxford University. At the end of my first year at university I chose to take up Computing Science as well (despite having never written a computer programme!) and graduated with a First Class Master’s degree in Engineering & Computing Science.
After university I joined the Royal Navy full time, serving onboard an aircraft carrier, where I was in charge of making sure the ship’s communications and computer systems worked. I then worked in a role testing new hardware and software procured by the Royal Navy – breaking things for a living!
I left the Navy after 11 years to take a two year sabbatical to go travelling. On my return I became a business analyst, helping Government departments and companies to buy the Information Technology they require to do their business. I joined BAE Systems in 2013 as a Systems Design Manager, and I am now managing a large mid-life upgrade programme of the Type 23 Class Frigates. This involves managing the design for the installation of the new equipment into the ships.
BAE Systems introduced me to the STEM Ambassador scheme, and since becoming an Ambassador I have participated in many events, particularly focussing on getting more girls to consider engineering as a career.
Tania Berry - Lloyds Register
Tania Berry has a Foundation Degree in Marine Systems Engineering and is currently enrolled at Portsmouth University to complete a BEng(Hons) Electronic Systems Engineering degree. Tania is an Electrotechnical Surveyor for Lloyd's Register and previously worked within the Marine Engineering Branch of the Royal Navy. In the past few months Tania has taken part in the International Women’s Day event at Winchester Science Centre, where she mentored students through a STEM challenge and took part in a careers speed-networking session. Tania has also taken part in a video conference where she discussed her STEM careers to an assembly of year 11 students!
“Approximately 6% of Lloyd’s Register employees on assignment are female; if we take into consideration the drilling assignees the figure drops to about 2%. This strongly justifies our support to the STEM Ambassadors Programme and encouraging young females into STEM subjects. It’s not a question of competence, it’s a question of confidence and having the opportunity to speak to the pupils. I hope it encourages them to reach for their goals and aspirations, there is no boundary they can’t reach with a little support.”
Ian Chapman - HSE
Ian trained as a craft apprentice with the MOD and now works as a Mechanical Engineer for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In the past few months Ian has given career talks to students where he explains how explosions are managed after large scale industrial events. He is also mentoring students who are taking part in the Greenpower Car Challenge and working with a STEM club to design and build a swamp boat
“I believe being a STEM ambassador enables me to help young people to be able to relate topics taught within the classroom environment to real life situations and practical applications. My work experience has also enabled me to show how a career in engineering can be achieved and the wide range of engineering roles and disciplines that are available.”
Cait Percy - Vice President of the University of Southampton Spaceflight Society. 'Sending soft toys to the edge of space'.
I'm studying towards an MPhys degree in Physics with Space Science which looks at both the science and engineering aspects of space along with a core grounding in physical concepts. In 2012 I was the Outreach Officer for the University Physics Society (Physoc) and as such, I expanded a previously run project of working with local schools to launch a high altitude balloon into the stratosphere to collect data and take pictures. This project has become the foundations of a new student society at the University of Southampton aimed at outreach and development. We hope to be able to reach more schools, develop new sensors and eventually expand into launching rockets and one day reach space! We've run the space bear activity with two schools - the first with a local school where we ran an after school club teaching students about the science of space and the things you need to think about to take man up there. This led to the launch of 'Derek' the teddy bear who reached 34km. (You can see Derek's mission here!).
We gained a lot of publicity for this launch which led to contact with another school in Leicester. Both have been very positive experiences which have really engaged the students at the schools and shown some of the interesting things you can do with science - including pushing the limits of how far you can reach and giving science a bit of a wow-factor!
The stars were my inspiration for getting into physics and space. I grew up in Pembrokeshire under some of the darkest skies in the UK. Those amazing skies meant I was fascinated by space from a young age so choosing Physics and Maths (along with Chemistry and French) to AS level stood me in good stead to take Physics at University. I was told that Maths is the key as you can be taught Physics, but need an aptitude for maths to be able to cope. Luckily, I got on well with Maths and got my place at Southampton - I love the University here and the opportunities I've been given!
Faye Cashman - Project manager at EADS Astrium. 'Journey through a digitally mapped universe'.
After completing an MPhys at the University of Southampton, Faye joined the Astrium Graduate Training Scheme and also became a STEM Ambassador. As part of World Space Week activities, Faye learned to “fly” the Astrium Planetarium at Winchester Science Centre, taking audiences on journeys through the entire digitally mapped universe.
This, alongside her professional knowledge, enabled Faye to create new shows for World Space Week to help young people to explore new ideas and form their own career plans. “Space is an exciting topic,” Faye says, “and kids are fascinated by it – always coming up with interesting questions - which makes it fun to have the opportunity to inspire a future generation of space scientists.”
Having seen the impact that working with young people in this way could make, Faye was inspired to develop and expand the outreach work of Astrium, and she continues to lead outreach for the Portsmouth site alongside her day job. The programme now includes workshops in schools, on-site school visits, and talks at careers events and STEM fairs, as well as working on World Space week at Winchester Science Centre. There are over 80 STEM Ambassadors across Astrium sites in Portsmouth and Stevenage, and approximately four activities per month take place at each site.
“Being a STEM Ambassador, delivering planetarium shows and training colleagues to “fly” the planetarium has really helped me develop my confidence and communication skills, which is great professional development,” Faye comments. “And I really enjoy interacting with the general public, being able to talk about my work and let people know that the UK is at the cutting edge of space science – it doesn’t all happen abroad!”
View STEM Ambassadors in Action
Take a look at these videos showing STEM Ambassadors in action to give you a better idea of what STEM Ambassadors actually do.
An Advanced Mechanical Apprentice at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. In this activity, the STEM Ambassador finds a way to explain the complexities of materials science using resources he could obtain from the local shop. Watch the clip.
A Research Scienctist in the Noise and Vibration Team at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire. In this activity the STEM Ambassador delivers a workshop that was developed by her professional institution, the Institute of Acoustics. Watch the clip.
STEM Ambassadors recently worked with students at Medina College on a challenge day to help improve their understanding of careers available in engineering, science and technology. See the press release here.