During the half-term holidays, I was given the opportunity to do a “Routes into STEM” course, organised by the Engineering Development Trust. The EDT is one of the country’s largest providers of enrichment activities for young people in technology and engineering.

The course was fully subsidised by my school through NCOP, but all participants had to go through an application process due to the high amount of interest from all over West Yorkshire. This was to be expected, given that the course entails a day each at a college, a university and a company engaged in the STEM sector.

Each day featured a different theme related to the application of STEM beyond the scope of the classroom, as well as providing invaluable information as to how to obtain a career in the industry.

The first day – hosted by Bradford College – centred around aviation and offered an introduction into some of the mechanics of aerodynamics, with further education and apprenticeships also discussed at length.

The University of Bradford held the second day which, beyond the information about university life, brought out teamwork and a competitive edge. The main challenge was for teams to build a LEGO wind turbine (a fan with changing speeds acted as makeshift wind) which produced the most cost-efficient energy. This meant that we needed to build a model that created the most energy, while also using a limited amount of the LEGO. Not only was it a lot of fun, but the activity aimed to emulate the struggles being faced over renewable energy in the EU’s Energy Union proposal.

The final day was at the Schneider Electric branch in Leeds. Schneider keep a relatively low profile but are involved in effectively everything electronic: from light switches to power distribution transformers. They are one of the largest corporations in the world and seeing the factory floor, populated by specialists of the vocation, was an interesting experience: everyone had a specific job and the process functioned like a machine.

It all culminated with the presentation of the Industrial Cadets Bronze accreditation to all the participants, as we had all completed at least the minimum quota of 20 hours of STEM-related activities on the course. All in all, it was a useful experience and I’m glad I was able to take part.

Hoa Duong

Year 10, Bradford Academy