Activating the Curiosity of NI’s Future Engineers | Science Summer School 2024

MEA SCIENCE SCHOOL 32

The Science Summer School initiative was established in 2012 at St. Paul’s Way Trust School in East London by Lord Andrew Mawson OBE and Professor Brian Cox CBE, OBE, FRS. The project is now expanding nationally with the aim to make ‘the UK the best place to do science and engineering in the world’.

After a successful event in November 2022, Mid and East Antrim Council held a second Science Summer School in The Braid Civic Centre, Ballymena in in January 2024 welcoming over 400 pupils to an engaging and thought-provoking day of STEAM activities, including interactive workshops and stimulating TED-style presentations from Industry Leaders, as well as an inspirational Career Panel event in the evening.

Brief

The 2024 ‘Science Summer School’ programme began with the ‘Activate Your Curiosity: Making Sense of Science’ event which was attended by the co-founders of the school, Professor Brian Cox CBE OBE FRS and Lord Mawson OBE.

As part of the dynamic ‘Activate the Curiosity’ programme, IPC Mouldings and other local businesses were asked to host various workshops and talks with students to pique their interest in STEM/STEAM subjects, and activate their curiosity about the many career pathways that the subjects offer.

Our team was tasked with designing and implementing a workshop to teach the students the importance of quality management practice. This involved creating an engaging experience that would display the importance of maintaining high standards of quality throughout the production process.

What did we do?

We developed a hands-on workshop titled “Quality in the Manufacturing Environment” to address the task. Ben Middleton, Manufacturing Engineer at IPC Mouldings, who began his career with the company as a placement student before securing a full-time position, spoke about the workshop saying,

“We created a workshop to teach the school kids about the importance of quality in a manufacturing environment. We decided to show this with mock assembly production lines and created a jigsaw puzzle of the company logo that offered students an insight into the three stages involved in the assembly line: brainstorming and early concept sketches, CAD design process, and prototyping.”

During the workshop, students were split into two teams and tasked to assemble as many jigsaws as possible within 15 minutes. Unbeknownst to them, each team received different starting scenarios. Group one had puzzle pieces of the correct size, pre-sorted by colour, and detailed, step-by-step instructions. Meanwhile, group two dealt with mixed puzzle pieces, including defective ones, and received basic instructions without pictures.

Challenges

One main challenge for our team was ensuring that the workshop effectively conveyed the importance of quality management practice to students across the various stages of the assembly line process. Due to this, an underlying objective was to raise awareness among students that obstacles are common throughout, and that problem-solving is a key trait to have within manufacturing.

Feedback

The feedback from the young people and schools in attendance was hugely positive, and our team was delighted to see the engagement amongst the students, who were enthusiastic and actively participated throughout.

The event organiser, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said, “We would like to thank the team at IPC Mouldings for your support during our Science Summer School event, and a special thanks to the team who delivered the fantastic workshop. It was great to have IPC involved and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future. There was a great atmosphere throughout the day, a real buzz and the feedback has been fantastic from both schools and young people.”

Amal Abusafa, Engineering Intern at IPC Mouldings spoke about the success of the workshop stating,

“It was great to see the school kids enthusiastically engaged in the task, swapping tables after completion to experience different starting scenarios before coming together for feedback and review of the task. It was encouraging to hear the ideas that the pupils had around how the improvement of work instructions and quality inspections to remove defective parts, all speed up the assembly line process.”

Conclusion

IPC Mouldings has supported the ‘Science Summer School’ since 2021. This engagement is part of the company’s strategy and vision to train the next generation and encourage more young people and students into science and engineer-focussed careers.

We were delighted to commit our support once again to the 2024 programme.

A successful day was had by both IPC Mouldings and the young people involved. IPC Mouldings looks forward to building on this achievement and continuing to ignite the spark of engineering and manufacturing to help recruit and retain the best talent for the future.

Find out more about the Science Summer School here: https://www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/business/science-summer-school.

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