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‘How does STEM happen at Thales? Two words: Eve Maywood’

For Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, we spoke to Eve about her role at Thales in the UK and how it feels to be involved in shaping tomorrow’s engineers.

How long have you been in your role at Thales?

Three years.

What exactly does your role involve?

My role is to support, develop and implement STEM engagement with schools and colleges that are close to 8 of our Thales sites. Through our STEM strategy we are working with a specific number of schools that are based in our local communities. This allows us to develop relationships with local schools and support them with STEM opportunities. The numbers of schools that we are engaging with is rising all the time, which is great. I am also responsible for overseeing large events and projects with our STEM partners, such as The Big Bang, Primary Engineer and Teach First.

I spend a lot of time coordinating and supporting STEM ambassadors as they are the back bone to all of our STEM engagement. They are brilliant at attending events in schools, talking to students when they are at Thales sites and delivering activities that inspire them about STEM subjects. Without them I could not do my role or support the number of schools and events we do.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?

Two things spring to mind: being able to help a school access opportunities that may otherwise not be available to them and bringing students into a Thales site. It is so important to show young people how what they are learning in the classroom is relevant in a real life setting.

What are some of the challenges you face?

The hardest challenge is working directly with the schools. Many people do not understand how complex a school can be; they have so many demands and responsibilities to deal with on a daily basis. Often they do not have the time or resources to introduce extra curricula opportunities into the classroom. I work with some amazing teachers who go above and beyond their normal day job to ensure their students get the best chances. However at time it can be a bit of a juggle to ensure that we can support them when they need it the most.

Why is our work in STEM so important?

It is estimated that 186,000 people with engineering skills will be needed between now and 2024. Ultimately, this means there are a huge number of opportunities for young people within the world of work. However, many students do not realise what job roles are available to them and that if they do not study one or more STEM subject then they could potentially miss out on inspiring, fulfilling careers. Our work with schools is hugely important as it is necessary to inform both the students and teachers about STEM. It is estimated that only 35% of teachers feel confident in giving engineering advice to students. Students are not going to be inspired about careers in STEM subjects if their teachers struggle to give the right information.

Is there a moment in your time working with STEM that has been memorable for you?

There have been many. Last year a new apprentice introduced herself to me, and told me about the different STEM opportunities with Thales she had experienced while at school. The opportunities she had experienced with us had helped her decide on her own career path, which later resulted in joining Thales!

What else do we as an industry need to do to keep making strides in this space?

I attend meetings and forums throughout the year with many of our industry partners who also do a significant amount of work for schools in the STEM arena. Companies in the UK are doing so much to create opportunities, fund and deliver experiences for young people, and support schools and education as a whole. As an industry, I believe we would benefit in having a more joined up approach. Events like The Big Bang show, when we all come together, we can have a huge impact  – over 80,000 young people attended The Big Bang last year. It’s great that organisations like Engineering UK are supporting more collaborative working.

To continue this progress it’s vital to ensure a strong partnership between all stakeholders: industry, government and the third sector. A great example of this is the government lead 2018 Year of the Engineer which brings together all key stakeholders under one, collaborative government supported brand.