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Inspiring the next generation of engineers in the classroom

Thales has joined forces with a national educational group for a fourth year to inspire potential engineers in the UK’s classrooms.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassadors from Thales sites around the UK is supporting Primary Engineer’s annual competition ‘If You Were an Engineer What Would You Do?’® which challenges young students to design a solution to a real-world problem.

Primary Engineer is a not-for-profit organisation which organises programmes to encourage nursery, primary and secondary aged pupils to consider STEM careers.

Chris Rochester, UK Director of Primary Engineer, said: “Thales engineers are inspiring pupils and teachers through meaningful interaction, finding solutions to world issues based upon their own interests. By working together, Thales and Primary Engineer provide pupils with an opportunity to do this on a wider scale.’

Charlene Simms, STEM Education and Outreach Manager for Thales in the UK said: “Thales takes an active role in engaging with schools to inform young people about the importance of science and technology.  and to let them know that opportunities are open to anyone who’s interested these fields.”

She added: “Joining forces with Primary Engineers allows us to share our expertise and knowledge with pupils and teachers so they can take part in informative and fun activities including this competition and other creative engineering activities.”

The competition invited pupils from primary and secondary schools to look at the world around them, identify a problem and propose an engineered solution. They then submit drawings and an accompanying letter to explain to panel of engineers why their ideas should be turned into reality. 

Entries are graded and shortlisted by the panel, made up of STEM ambassadors from Thales and other sponsor companies. Regional winners are chosen and invited to exhibition events which celebrate the innovation and creativity of students.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s events have taken place online, at live-streamed events. Judging ended late last year and it is hoped that a live event inviting participants to celebrate the shortlisted entries will be able to take place this summer.

Thales STEM ambassadors are also involved in events aimed at empowering teachers to inspire their pupils in school to get involved in technological projects.

Charlene explained: “Teachers benefit from a full day of training which they can in turn share with their colleagues upskilling others. Schools also receive classroom resources such as a car kit which the teachers can use to run the activity they have learnt to deliver.

“By targeting young people at this early stage, we can begin to highlight the importance of the STEM subjects and hopefully inspire them to carry on studying them at secondary schools.”

STEM ambassadors mentor a teacher and then follow up with a visit to their school to offer support during classroom construction projects. Schools will then gather for open days held around the UK, with parents and pupils, to race their kit cars.

Primary Engineer inspires children, pupils, parents/carers and teachers through continued professional development, whole class project work, competitions, and engagement with engineering professionals. The organisation also aims to address the diversity and gender imbalance in engineering with early years, primary and secondary pupils.