If you’re an engineer who’d like funding to support your own STEM outreach activities, apply now for I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here at imanengineer.org.uk/engineers
The money has been spent in the majority to develop a website (https://www.engineerabake.com/) to upload content related to baking and engineering. My background is materials engineering, and I have always found a big connection between the properties of materials and the foods one can bake at home.
I thought that by having a website, I would be able to reach a lot more students and it would be used as a reference tool to use with students and potentially even use them as little workshops or experiments in the future. I purchased a tripod, some reflectors and a mini photo studio to take professional photos for each post. The physical items were around £60 in total, the rest was to cover the website costs (domain name and hosting via Squarespace for two years).
The website and The Engineer Magazine Collaborate to Innovate Awards I attended with the I’m an Engineer team last year also helped me to build a great relationship with Merton Park Primary School, as the fabulous teachers that attended were the absolute best teachers I have met.
We organised two sessions with two groups, where I talked about my job and my career and a lot about materials and baking. Nicola and Debs have even posted a link to my mango leather on their STEM school website.
In terms of personal experience, I’m an Engineer helped me develop my communication skills. It is important to think about how to engage young students and make them understand what job you do and why do you enjoy doing it, and to be able to find an exciting explanation that anyone can understand is definitely challenging, as we are normally surrounded by very technical people.
When it comes to how to improve my STEM outreach, IAE also opened my eyes to get a better perspective of what students of different ages are interested in, their fears and their challenges. I am now much more capable of engaging with students of different ages, and able to tailor my delivery better.
I was very glad to see how simple technologies such as a chat or a forum, allow students to ask ANY question that crosses their mind without feeling scared to ask them: At what time do you wake up? What do you hate most about your job? These are important questions (that even adults should ask themselves but we are too afraid to ask them) and they give students realistic information about how much they will enjoy their chosen jobs in the future.