The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure’s Design It! Build It! Use It! Stadium STEM programme which is aimed at the promotion of science and engineering attracted 650 pupils from 13 different schools around Northern Ireland to the W5 science centre recently.
Against the back drop of the redevelopment plans for Belfast’s three major outdoor sports stadia at Ravenhill, Casement Park and Windsor Park, those who attended the workshops were able to learn about the important role that people with skills in science, technology, engineering and maths can play in the local economy.
'We are trying to raise awareness with this age group and focus on possible careers because at this stage they will be making subject choices,' explains Aideen Johnston, head of education at W5. “We want to let them know of the different pathways which will take them into jobs and careers some of which will be involved in the redevelopment work.'
‘That could be in architecture, construction or into the sports side of things through nutrition and physiotherapy. The University of Ulster is showing some its latest technology projects,” added Johnston.
While the programme of events at W5 included talks and photograph sessions with Ulster Rugby stars Ruan, Pienaar, Stuart Odling and Callum Black, the opportunity to see some of that cutting edge technology was too much to miss.
And these STEM related projects are as wide as they are varied. There is the construction of a battery powered car, a connected health system which is developing a method for the home monitoring of people with health problems .
'The University of Ulster is delighted to be involved in such a programme and to enable students to see the wide range of varied disciplines related to engineering, healthcare, textiles, sports and under a common theme and in such a fantastic location as W5,' says Dr Alistair McIlhagger from the Faculty of Computing and Engineering.