The Importance of STEM Education

22 July 2018
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  • Early this year I was asked if Equitus could attend a STEM event organised by the STEM Transpennine Hub at a school in Oldham, Manchester. I immediately said I would, even though I had very little time for preparation; this conversation happened on Wednesday and the event was on Friday! I had been hearing a lot about us engineers becoming a dying breed in this country and how we, as a fraternity, need to engage more at grass roots level to encourage more young students to at least think about a career in engineering.

    So, come Friday afternoon, I was on my way to meet the students and staff of this school. To begin with, it was encouraging to see staff take a keen interest in giving their students options for the future.

    I was introduced to two classes, which was about 60 primary school students in all. I asked the students if they had given a thought to what they wanted to be when they grew up. I got all kinds of answers from doctor, actor and marine, to ‘I don’t care as long as I make money’ and the most common one ‘I don’t know’. At that age, even I didn’t know what I wanted to become when I grew up.

    We then got around to talking about engineering and what engineers do. We were able to establish that engineers design things, build things and fix things. Their knowledge, inquisitive nature and enthusiasm impressed me more than anything else. My observations, based on this experience are as follows:

    1. There is no shortage of eager minded, enthusisastic youth to fly the flag of engineering
    2. The school and staff are pro-active in ensuring that their students get to interact with industry and academies of higher education
    3. There is a desire to learn more and know more amongst the students and they need appropriate mentoring and direction
    4. The key is to maintain the students’ quest for knowledge and to mould them into not just competent engineers but responsible and ethical leaders of tomorrow
    5. It was a learning experience for me also as it opened my eyes to a different way of communicating effectively and efficiently

    I enjoyed interacting with this group of students and would definitely involve myself with such initiatives. I also encourage all of you to take a few hours of your time to further the cause of engineering by talking to young minds and giving them an idea of what it is like to be an engineer.

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