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STEM Ambassador John Dunning: My first event…
John Dunning is a HV Contracts Manager at Quartzelec Ltd. He wanted to share his knowledge, give back and help inspire the next STEM generation… so he became a STEM Ambassador! We talked to John about his first experience.
“I volunteered to be a STEM ambassador early this year (2016) because I felt I wanted to give something back to the engineering community. I left school with not much in the way of GCSE’s (we were the Guinea pigs for the then new GCSE) and took a YTS. Over the next 20 years I achieved engineering status, did a HNC and also got a 2:1 Honours degree part time. I’ve worked with apprentices, mentored young engineers in the workplace and felt it was now time to offer something based on my own experiences and the routes I know that you can take into engineering.
An opportunity came up to attend a local schools career fair, I worked out a few ideas and decided on the following approach:
• To represent myself as an engineer not a company
• Create a flyer that states different routes into engineering, what to expect in the workplace, useful resources and typical “day in the life” of apprentices, engineers – all based on my own experience
• Display some tools of my trade – a current injection set, old protection relay, sample High Voltage (HV) cable, HV fuse etc.
• Create a few posters with electricity distribution diagrams, sample HV pictures etc.
On the day I was shown to a large hall with other careers exhibitors from all industries. Once I set up my “stall” the upper 6th formers started to trawl through. At first no one stopped by, then within half hour I was greeted with a steady stream of interested students keen to hear what I had to say, what was on my table and to have a go at injecting some current into a relay.
From then on I kept a tally and approximately 42 students came to see me. Out of the 42, 15 expressed a keen interest to pursue a career in electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. The year 9 students were keen to hear advice on which options to pick. Typical questions were. How do I get into engineering? What’s best, university or apprenticeship? What A levels do I need? What did I do to get where I am now? Plus specific technical questions on electricity, high voltage etc.
After being slightly anxious (well very) I thoroughly enjoyed it! I was very tired after 3 hours but it felt very rewarding and even if I only influenced one young engineer it was worth it. Do take a small bottle of water and plenty of leaflets printed, they love freebies. Don’t be surprised if you see the same students walking past a few times and then eventually plucking the courage to talk to you. They have some huge decisions to make and whatever guidance you can provide they greatly appreciate.
I’m looking forward to my next one!”
Thank you for sharing your experience John and congratulations on a fantastic session – a STEM-sational role model, inspirational!
You can request a STEM Ambassador to visit your school, click the green button here.
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