The Supply Chain AeroSpace team was delighted to support a pilot project organised by the Skypath Aero Training Centre in Prestwick, aimed at introducing young people to potential future employers and giving them the opportunity to try fun team challenges based around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Thirty students from Kyle Academy took part in the STEM Day which began with a visit to the Woodward aerospace facility at Prestwick in the morning, where the third year students met members of the team, and learned about different career roles and skills within the company.
For the afternoon session at Skypath, students entered a challenge to design, build and race a water rocket powered car. They were supported by STEM ambassadors from Woodward and Spirit AeroSystems who were full of praise for the students’ efforts.
Woodward’s Engineering Leader Jamie Brown said: “The event was great fun and it was thrilling to see the enthusiasm for STEM in our local community. The students worked really hard and should feel proud of their efforts. I was especially impressed with some of the teams’ resilience – when their car never operated as expected, they were keen to go back to the drawing board and explore various iterations to improve their designs. This is an important engineering mindset, where we learn from setbacks to create an amazing product in the end. We’ve got some future Ayrshire engineers in the making for sure!”
The event was the first in a pilot series of South Ayrshire Council supported STEM Days planned at Skypath involving all eight secondary schools in the area.
Skypath Aero Training Centre is a Community Interest Company based beside Glasgow Prestwick Airport in the heart of Prestwick Aerospace, Scotland’s largest aerospace cluster which is home to 20 global and local companies. It was set up in 2021 by the University of Strathclyde and Chevron Aircraft Maintenance, in partnership with South Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire College, to provide practical, hands-on, bespoke courses to help aerospace companies address skills and workforce challenges.
South Ayrshire Council Portfolio Holder for Economic Development Councillor Bob Pollock said: “Skypath Aero Training Centre connects local aerospace companies with communities, education and young people. As well as offering bespoke, short courses needed by companies, it aims to break down barriers and change perceptions of the industry. Skypath is focussed on raising aspirations for young people, encouraging them to consider a career in aerospace, space or engineering. The STEM Days will play a key role in that going forward.”
Feedback from the students was enthusiastic, with some stating “I enjoyed building and testing our rocket cars”, “I now know that I want to be an engineer” and “The people who provided the activity were very inclusive and engaged well with us all”.
Kirsty Anderson, Principal Teacher of Employability and Skills at Kyle Academy commented: “Pupils engaged well with the task and learnt how to work as part of a team as well as developing their problem solving skills. Pupils are now more aware of what careers are available in the aerospace industry and are keen to be involved in future activities.”
Five more STEM days are due to take place from now until March involving visits to companies across the Prestwick Aerospace cluster, including Chevron Aircraft Maintenance, Woodward and Spirit AeroSystems.