What Does it Mean to be a STEM Ambassador?
When I think back to my school days, I can identify the main thing that led to my decision to become an engineer. It wasn’t my love of physics and maths, or the fact that these were my best subjects and I found them both interesting and intuitive (although these did contribute). It was the after school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) club that I used to attend each week.
This club was administered by the science and D&T departments but was mainly run by real-life engineers from local companies. Not only did they talk to us about what their jobs entailed, and how the things we were learning at school provided the basis for their expertise, but they also set us tasks and challenges based on real world problems that they had encountered.
The club gave me the insight I needed into what engineering really was and what it meant to be an engineer. This was the fundamental aspect of my early learning that led to me deciding to pursue engineering at university, and subsequently doing so at CUED.
I feel that the main reason that the club ignited my passion for engineering was the external support. These engineers were giving up their free time to come and support the club, and inspire a younger generation to consider engineering as a career. This was also a major factor in my decision to become a STEM Ambassador over 10 years ago, when I started my first job.
The STEM Ambassador programme is a national scheme, which connects those who are passionate about inspiring the younger generation to consider careers in STEM with the schools, colleges, universities and clubs looking for that support. STEM Ambassadors come from all manner of technical backgrounds. The programme provides initial training online and covers costs for each person to have a DBS check performed, which is a background check to allow ambassadors to work with children and young people. They also offer regular courses and webinars to help those involved improve their skills so they can deliver better experiences.
The minimum commitment required from a STEM Ambassador is small, with a requirement to complete at least one event a year. This could be as small as going to a local school to talk about your job, or as large as regularly supporting an after school STEM club (and everything in between).
Through my role as a STEM Ambassador over the last decade, I have been involved in hundreds of events including:
Attending careers fairs
Giving engineering careers talks
Running exhibition stands at national events like the Big Bang Fair
Developing and running workshops at schools and colleges, on a range of STEM subjects
Organising work experience weeks at my company
Mentoring students in danger of dropping out of education
Supporting other engineering initiatives, such as the Arkwright scholarship scheme and the Tomorrow’s Engineers Code.
I feel a great sense of achievement to have been involved in so many activities, supporting thousands of pupils and helping them to make more informed decisions about what to do after school. I now even work with some of our junior staff that remember some of the events that I was involved in, and credit them with aiding their decision to pursue careers in STEM. The feeling when I hear this is one of immense pride, as I have been able to play a small part in inspiring the next generation of engineers. I urge you to do the same by becoming a STEM Ambassador!
You can find out more about becoming a STEM Ambassador here: