By Sarah Allaoui

Earlier this year, three Cundall engineers including myself got involved in the Engineering Development Trust’s (EDT’s Go4SET scheme aimed at encouraging students to pursuit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related careers. The 10 week environmentally themed project was aimed at Year 8/9 students. Cundall was mentoring pupils from the London Enterprise Academy.

Our role as team mentors entailed guiding the team towards designing their ‘Eco classroom’ by offering technical support, demonstrating project management and team working skills. This project resonates with our sustainability policy at Cundall, which made it more exciting and closer to home. During our visits to the school, our role was to stimulate ideas and motivate the team to be creative, but at the same time share our experiences and encourage the pupils to be realistic with the given time constraints and feasibility of ideas.

I was particularly interested in engaging with the young girls of the group (3 out of the 5 students were females, who runs the world?!). The girls in particular had many questions about what degree I did, how many girls were in my engineering classes, if it was difficult, if I liked what I did and what a typical day for an engineer looked like. This goes to show that young people are curious and are starting to open up to learning more about our profession.

One of the key elements of the Go4SET experience was the company visit for the team, it was the opportunity to bring real world context to the project. The conducted tour enriched the experience for the students as they were able to see where we work, and where we have fun (games room, which they were most excited about). Some of the students were even impressed and admitted wanting to become engineers too one day!

On the celebration and assessment day, the students showcased their ‘Eco classroom’ and made a great impression when answering questions about their design in the interview phase. Needless to say, we were very proud.

This project was not only a learning opportunity for the kids but also a fresh outlook for us as mentors. It taught us that sometimes listening to a kid’s perspective and fearless ideas can inspire our own, and sometimes, if not often, going back to basics is the best approach.

Find out more about Cundall – http://www.cundall.com/

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Future Engineers, Sarah Allaoui

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