Yesterday (7 June 2022) marked the 20th anniversary of the STEM ambassador programme. This programme allows professionals with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) expertise to volunteer their time to inspire the next generation.
STEM ambassadors support learning by helping young people to understand real world applications of science, they highlight STEM careers through events which aim to inspire and demonstrate to students the wide range of people who pursue a future in STEM.
Since its beginning in 2002, the programme has amassed a 37,000 strong group of volunteers representing over 7,000 employers across the UK.
Pirbright’s own STEM ambassador history spans over 10 years. Working in collaboration with the South-East England STEM Ambassador Hub the Institute has increased its ambassadors by 130 percent, and we now have 76 trained members of staff and students that represent Pirbright.
Our STEM ambassadors are essential for the success of our public engagement events and are an important part of Pirbright’s commitment to research excellence. They support Pirbright’s attendance at science festivals, career events and science workshops, which are important informal learning experiences, showcasing research and innovation to young people and the public.
One of our public engagement core aims is to support underrepresented communities to help develop their knowledge about science. Representatives from the Institute have attended careers events throughout the academic year, engaging with students about the breadth of roles in science.
Abigail Hay, final year PhD student and winner of Pirbright’s student Public Engagement Award 2022, said: “Being a STEM ambassador is incredibly rewarding and I am proud to have been an ambassador for science with four different STEM hubs since I joined in 2015. Through being an ambassador, I have had the opportunity to undertake training to improve my science communication skills and have grown in confidence when presenting my science to the public.
People I’ve met through being a STEM ambassador have connected me with opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have come across, and some of them I’m still in contact with today. Above all else, I love going home at the end of an event knowing that I might have inspired one more young person to follow a career in STEM, or showed them that if they love STEM they belong in STEM no matter what their gender, ethnicity or background. If you take the plunge into science communication but aren’t sure where to start, I would definitely recommend becoming a STEM ambassador and diving right in. There will always be someone there to guide you.”