Becoming a STEM ambassador

29th November, from the backup vault of David Whale’s email inbox…

Yesterday I drove up to Gloucester (about 40 mins away) in order to do my official induction for becoming a STEM ambassador, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about it and why more people my age and younger should be doing it.

I found STEM ambassadoring a while back, I don’t remember how long ago, and thought “ooh this looks good”. Then I met David Whale at the York Raspberry Jam having spoken to him sporadically on twitter a few times, and asked about it as he was doing a talk on it earlier in the day. I said I was thinking about it and what was the minimum age etc, what kind of stuff you have to do for it and whether I should well. do it. He gave me plenty of info on the subject but I kind of just let it sit for several months before registering. In two weeks time I’ll be helping David and Ryan out in Stevenage, so it forced me to finally actually go to an induction session.

STEM ambassadors can be anyone who’s got experience in STEM – that is, Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics. The minimum age is 17, and you have to do one STEM volunteering event per year minimum – that’s it. And it can be anything from running a workshop, to careers advice, to mentoring kids with competitions…to raspberry pi bakeoffs. Essentially the idea is to give kids more of an idea about career choices and more role models.

At my induction there were 9 people, mostly Engineers (as I previously mentioned (and the fact I work for an Engineering company…) Bristol and the area have a lot of Engineering companies, including BAE Airbus Rolls-Royce…etc. and more outside of Aerospace) and all of them around 30-late 40s. Oh, and as you’d predict, all men, unfortunately. The organisation’s aim is to get 40% women across the country as STEM ambassadors, but currently it’s around 25%.

What I think is more important than that though, is having people who aren’t long out of the school system so that they can relate better to what the kids are going through and show all stages of getting into STEM – I know that Airbus and Rolls-Royce graduates are pushed into doing it which is great, unfortunately I was told I couldn’t be signed up through the company as I’m only an intern, which is sad, but anyhow.

The induction itself was ok – we went over some school terms (which for me were fresh in my mind – key stage 3 gcses etc – but for some people it’s been longer than 2 years since they left school, so understandable…), did some exercises relating to body language and attitudes when you volunteer and some dos and donts.

Overall I’m excited to get on to volunteering, and it’s obviously another great thing to add to my CV, but mainly I want to make more young people aware how great it is to be in the Tech industry.

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