Heathrow Secondary School Challenge wraps up
Heathrow’s Secondary School Challenge wrapped up last week with over 2,000 students taking part. YourHeathrow takes a quick look at what it was all about.
The Heathrow Secondary School Challenge saw 18 of the airport’s engineers head out to local schools to give pupils hands-on experience of engineering challenges.
A half-day event was held at each school where pupils were taught to build a mini version of the Terminal 5 Track Transit System (TTS) – the driverless electric train that shuttles passengers to satellite terminals.
The challenge visited 14 schools over the three week period from 28 March, with Chartered Civil Engineer Jeremy King on hand at each to teach students about basic electrical circuits and set a series of challenges for each of them.
Head of Heathrow’s engineering apprenticeship scheme Kelly Stone said: ‘There is a wide range of exciting engineering opportunities at Heathrow. We want to ensure the talented young people on our doorstep are aware of these careers and inspired to choose the right subjects needed to succeed in them.”
“The aim of the challenge is to introduce pupils to engineering in a fun, interactive, relevant way which we hope will ignite an interest for studying STEM1 subjects in the future.” – Kelly Stone, Heathrow
The Heathrow Secondary School Challenge began seven years ago in order to broaden local students’ awareness of employment opportunities at Heathrow. It complements Heathrow’s Primary School Challenge aimed at year 6 pupils, which sees thousands of 10 year olds build terminals out of newspaper.
Many children in the boroughs surrounding the airport will aspire to work there in the future but may not be aware of the full range of careers available, particularly those in engineering, or what they would need to study to be eligible for them. Whilst engineers are critical to the airport’s operations, they are in short supply.
Engineering UK2 estimates that Britain needs to double the number of recruits into engineering to meet demand. Yet just 20 per cent of 12-16 year olds express any knowledge of what people working in engineering do, and just 3% of all GCSEs taken in 2012 were in physics – a key subject for those wishing to study engineering at university. Encrougaging pupils to study STEM subjects is the first step in reducing the current skills defecit in the UK.