Engineering and technology event inspires youngsters about future opportunities

22nd September 2022

MORE than 100 young people, aged 5-13, were inspired by science and engineering when Sellafield Engineering Centre of Excellence hosted a UK-wide initiative.

The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) held events all over the UK in the school holidays to give young people hands-on experience of science.

Sellafield Engineering Centre of Excellence at Cleator Moor, with its dedicated innovation bays, was chosen as an ideal venue to show young people future opportunities.

Craig Branney, Sellafield’s Head of Off-Site Developments, said: “The buzz around the place was amazing. We had children and parents in all the bays having fun trying out the engineering challenges. It was fantastic to feel the energy and excitement.

“It was an honour to host such a prestigious nationwide event and hopefully we have inspired young people from all across West Cumbria what the future might look like for them.”

Holly Maxwell, Lead System Engineer, and Lorna Devine, System Engineer, both at Sellafield, attended the event to inspire girls about careers in engineering.

“It’s about showing young girls that females are engineers and all the opportunities are open to them. If we weren’t here maybe they wouldn’t see someone they identified with or were comfortable approaching to speak to and find out more. It’s about making sure those barriers don’t existing and showing girls that they can absolutely do this.”

Jenny and Peter McCullough were one lots of families attending the event. Their sons William and Thomas enjoyed taking part in some of the fun challenges.

Jenny said: “It’s great for them to actually see what goes on and be able to have a go at the hands-on stuff instead of just hearing about it from adults. It brings it to life and hopefully they see from a young age the possibilities which are open to them. You don’t know what you don’t know. So this is a brilliant way of showing them.”

Thomas said: “It’s been really good. Spot the Dog robot was amazing and it’s been fun being able to try some of the challenges.”

Shawn Ackerlay, commercial manager at Shepley Engineers, said his company sees the value in engaging with schoolchildren from a young age.

“It’s good to be here and show the young people what engineering is all about. I think it’s important to get this type of stuff into the curriculum so young people know more about it and further down the line they might choose an apprenticeship.”

Sellafield engineering manager colleagues Stephen Kitchen and Mike Foy, who represent the the Institute of Engineering and Technology, came up with the idea of holding the event at the Engineering Centre of Excellence and worked with Matt Walton, Senior Corporate Account Manager for the Institute of Engineering and Technology, to make the event a reality.

Artur Majchrowski, Sellafield Electrical and Electronic Engineering Graduate who is building a local IET group in West Cumbria, worked with colleague Dharmesh Premchande to deliver the event with the help of Claire Roper, Sellafield’s Engineering & Maintenance Capability Lead for Professional Development and Claire O’Connor, Sellafield’s Engineering Centre of Excellence socio economic lead.

Artur said: “It’s great for Sellafield to open its doors to kids in this way and the Engineering Centre of Excellence is the ideal place to do that.

“It’s all about encouraging kids and giving them a never-seen-before experience of what industry looks like.

“These sort of events couldn’t happen without the hard work of Claire Roper and Claire O’Connor. They work so hard on the work experience programmes to ensure as many young people as possible are given these opportunities and are inspired by engineering and STEM subjects.

“Everyone has come together to achieve this and make everything visible for the young people and give them this experience to show them what jobs and opportunities are open to them.”

The event is exactly the sort of activity to inspire people about future opportunities and create clear pathways into future employment and skills and training opportunities that iSH (Industrial Solutions Hub) wants to see.

iSH is set to transform Leconfield Industrial Estate in Cleator Moor by creating a campus where industry, SMEs, academia, and community come together to collaborate, as part of its wider programme across West Cumbria which will regenerate local opportunities.

John Maddison, Managing Director of iSH, said: “The more people we can introduce to the opportunities and the possibilities for them the better.

“I am sure many young people who have had this experience at the Engineering Centre of Excellence have gone away inspired about what they could achieve in the future.

“Congratulations to everyone who helped make this happen and inspire the young people. We look forward to being involved in future events and programmes to maximise this opportunity for everyone of all ages across the community.”