Director, Weald Technology Ltd
Why did you become an Ambassador?
I was involved in Young Engineers through my employer in the 1990s but as my career developed I drifted away. When I launched our hugely ambitious project to build the world-record challenging electric motorbike in 2012 I did a lot of talks to motorbike and car clubs about it. As I did more and more talks about the project it occurred to me that I had a massive opportunity to do the same with schools. It’s exciting and inspiring, and a super-fast motorbike catches the attention, so I looked around and found STEM Sussex.
How much time do you commit to Ambassador activities?
A lot, and an ever-increasing amount. I appreciate that not everyone can afford to do that, but I have shaped my company, over the last couple of years, into one that does projects in sustainable transport specifically so that we can develop STEM projects from them.
Because I believe in the importance of STEM education so strongly I spend about 20% of my time on STEM related activity – either designing projects or going into schools, and I expect that to expand through 2016 now that we have some interesting projects coming through. If you look at the www.weald-tech.co.uk website it’s the headline on the home page – that’s how much it means.
What activities have you been involved in?
Mostly, to date, I have done a lot of talks about the project. These cover two aspects; firstly, the excitement of top-class motorsport and how we cover every area of STEM in one project, and secondly, how developing this extreme vehicle relates to innovations in future transport and the problems of urban congestion and air-quality. It’s all related to transport in some way.
I have done quite a few careers fairs talking about what it takes to be an engineer and what they get up to, and am now starting to get involved in workshops and projects. I’ve tended to shy away from them previously, feeling more comfortable talking about what I do, rather than helping out ‘hands on’, but I’ve done a couple now and really enjoy them. You can see a more immediate impact.
What do you feel were the positive outcomes for the pupils?
I try to show students that there are a variety of routes into the career; they don’t have to go to university if that’s not right for them – you can enter the profession through an apprenticeship if that’s more appealing and doing that never closes the door to studying further at a later date.
Being a good engineer opens up so many opportunities in such a diverse range of companies, and with the pace of technology development nowadays they’ll never run out of things to do!
I started as an Apprentice Draughtsman and never imagined the variety of roles I’d take on, or the sort of things I’d be involved in.
Do you have any tips for future STEM Ambassadors?
Yes, get involved. It’s great fun, and you only need to get involved at whatever level you are comfortable with. There is loads of support, and a huge number of opportunities. Anyone working in a STEM industry should be aware of how we desperately need to encourage more youngsters, and if you can just make one person think about a career that they might not have considered that’s a great result.
Finally, don’t forget that your job might seem like “just what I do” but to lots of people it is fascinating; they’ve probably never given a thought to how that ‘widget’ they can’t live without got designed or made. Be proud and shout about it!