My work as a STEM Ambassador

When I was in school I was lucky enough to an inspiring woman in engineering close to home – my mum. But not all young people know someone working in a STEM role (Science, Teaching, Engineering & Maths) or are encouraged into a STEM career. So, as a STEM Ambassador, if speaking to a group of students inspires at least one to consider a STEM role in their future who hadn’t before, then I know my volunteering is worthwhile.

The majority of school students I speak to aren’t aware that there are many different types of engineer, and some do not know what a structural engineer is at all. When I carry out STEM activities, I focus on highlighting the many and varied STEM opportunities that are available here at Curtins, and the construction industry as a whole, but I also a focus on attempting to break any stereotypes – particularly those based on gender – of what students and young people think a ‘typical engineer’ looks like.

I aim to show others that a STEM career isn’t just about being good at maths, but also about creativity and solving problems. Showing that everything we use – from fast cars to impressive construction and mobile phones – all started from a STEM role. I hope through my experience as a volunteer I have demonstrated this as best I can.

During my time as a STEM ambassador I have carried out a number of STEM actives locally involving Leeds Beckett University, including a Women in Engineering day event and multiple career fairs. I have also worked with other consultants and disciplines in the industry, volunteering for activity days and undertaking site visits with students.

The Curtins ethos originates with our founder, Bill Curtin, who believed in giving local youngsters opportunities and who had a passion to teach and share knowledge. I would say one of the most rewarding aspects of my role at Curtins is meeting local students in and around Leeds. Over the past year our office in Leeds has established a close relationship with a local school, Ruth Gorse Academy (RGA). RGA has given Curtins many fantastic opportunities to get involved with careers fairs and events at the school. So far our STEM ambassadors have presented at RGA’s Year of Engineering assembly, Teach First Big Class Challenge, various mock interviews with students and even producing career profiles for the school newsletter.

Attending such events at RGA provides our STEM Ambassadors with the chance to talk to many different groups of students, across all ages and from different backgrounds. I was surprised at how many female students said they hadn’t thought about a career in engineering – even those who said they enjoyed both maths and science. This just proves that the work we do with local schools such as Ruth Gorse Academy is important. Not only to carry on championing our company ethos; but for those girls and all students from different backgrounds to inspire them to do a career in STEM.