Glasgow Prestwick Airport hosted the Aerospace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) week between Monday 28 August and Friday 1 September. The airport partnered with NATS, ADS Scotland, South Ayrshire Council, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and The University of the West of Scotland.
STEM week was put in place to inspire S1 and S2 pupils with careers in the aviation, aerospace and space industry – as well as careers in other fields that work closely with or in support of these industries.
The event saw just under 800 pupils from across the West of Scotland participate in various workshops, exhibitions and interactive sessions.
The airport welcomed 17 organisations from across the industry who were happy to give important information to pupils interested in their field as well as display creative examples of what is involved in their everyday jobs.
The organisations who gave their valuable time to the pupils were Chevron Aircraft Maintenance, University of the West of Scotland, Orbital Access, United Technologies, Spirit Aerosystems, NATS, KCP, GE Caledonian, Ayr College, Woodward, Jacobs Engineering, Prestwick Aerospace, Ayrshire Engineering Alliance, Royal Aeronautical Society, University of Strathclyde, Institute of Physics, and Glasgow Science Centre.
Steve Graham, Head of Prospective Centre Services for NATS said:
‘It’s really important for young people to feel engaged and inspired about STEM subjects. Events like Prestwick Airport’s STEM week give industry leaders like us the opportunity to show students the real life implementation of their classroom learning.
‘Hopefully by showing the students how NATS uses technology they will be inspired to consider a career with us in the future.
In addition to information and guidance from staff at the NATS stand, there was also a number of interactive games to intrigue young people about careers in air traffic control and encourage them to be engaged with STEM subjects at school.
There was a continuous descent game to demonstrate the most efficient flight path for aircraft, a simulator game which allowed them to experience the interactions between an air traffic controller and a pilot, a drone flying simulator and a number of visual recognition games to demonstrate the different aspects of an air traffic controller’s job. With many of the organisations having goodies such as fidget spinners, torches, keyrings and sweets, we spoke to Jacobs engineering who had a phenomenal competition for the pupils to enter which could see them win either a one hour Facetime with NASA Astronaut Andrew M. Allan, who has successfully made three trips to space or a class trip to Queensferry Crossing – The largest and best known infrastructure project in Scotland for a generation.
Carra O’Niel, Jacobs Engineering Project Manager said:
‘It’s been such a great attraction for the students who have been keen to enter to be in with a chance to win either of these amazing prizes. It’s not every day you get an opportunity to speak to someone who has experienced first-hand what it is like to be in space.
‘The amount of pupils I have spoken with who are genuinely interested in pursuing a career in the aviation industry is fantastic.
Speaking to Eilidh Gibson from Chevron, we asked her if she felt her time spent at STEM week was beneficial and she said:
‘Absolutely. It’s been such a successful week, talking to young people and hearing their thoughts on what careers they are thinking about chasing.
‘If I can help set them up with the knowledge of which subjects are necessary for specific jobs then I feel my time here has been valuable.
It was also good to get some of the student’s opinions on STEM week.
Leanne Hunter, age 12 from Grange Academy said:
‘It’s been a good way to get involved in engineering. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and my favourite workshop was the Crime Scene Investigation.
‘I would definitely recommend it to.
Kieran Saunders, age 13 from Marr College said:
‘I’ve enjoyed my day. It’s been worth coming and it’s given me the confidence in choosing a career.
Kacey Saunders, age 13 from Marr College said:
‘The Lego workshop has been very valuable in the mechanics behind how a machine is put together and how it works.
‘I would really like to come back next year.
Also attending the event, Central Ayrshire’s MP Dr Philippa Whitford spoke of STEM week:
‘The whole week has been spectacular. I attended the opening on Monday and it’s great to be back today with so many Ayrshire schools at the event. We are always encouraging young people to look into careers in the STEM industry and with an opportunity for them to come along and have conversations with people who are experienced in these trades is so invaluable to them.
‘The opportunities we have in this area for high quality jobs with the potential Spaceport is incredible.
‘I have been learning how to make paper aeroplanes and look forward to trying the NATS landing practice.