A penny for your thoughts - STEM and the link between creativity and innovation

Holly  Kerr
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s (STEM), are the heartbeat of the world of construction. These subject areas provide the basis towards a core understanding of how everyday transport, power plants, aerospace and buildings are made and work.

At Faithful+Gould however, we understand there is more to construction than just STEM. We understand the drivers behind the world of engineering, and we understand the value of creativity in innovation.

STEM is an ever-important aspect of society, and now even more so than before. With the landscape of the future careering towards artificial intelligence, clean energy and efficient transportation, traditional infrastructure will soon no longer be able to sufficiently and responsibly deliver what people need from their built environment. In the recent Industrial Strategy Policy Paper the UK government has highlighted the need for investment in STEM, to help young people develop their understanding, skills, and techniques required to create and operate technologies of the future.

Across the nation Faithful+Gould and Atkins encourage employees to become STEM ambassadors, to inspire children within their local community to explore engineering and construction as a career. Jonny Frank, a quantity surveyor working across our Stockton and Newcastle offices has as a STEM Ambassador organised interactive workshops in local schools, engaging children from 11-14 years old with thought provoking activities. One such activity involved designing a boat out of foil, the boat which held the greatest number of pennies before sinking wins. This seems simple enough, however, there was a limitation in price! Each resource had a cost allocated to it, so the children were encouraged to think about design to build within budget. This encouraged them to use their, imagination, be innovative and creative. The activity enabled children to relate with the engineering and construction industry, explore their own abilities as well as teaching the children to express themselves creatively and problem solve, two important skills involved in innovation.

In Birmingham STEM ambassadors volunteered as mentors for Envision’s Community Apprentice Scheme, where over 9 months they helped 16-17 year olds to develop team working, organisation, communication and problem solving and resilience skills. At the end of the programme the ambassadors provided references to help students on their journey and realise their aspirations towards higher education or employment options.

By engaging children at a young age, we hope to help children overcome stereotypical gender related pressures and raise awareness and confidence in their own abilities to pursue their interests. A recent study by the National Audit Office found there was a consistent gender gap on STEM related A levels for example it was found women only made up 9.4% of computing A Level students

At Faithful+Gould we also see the potential of young students’ abilities through their passions. In 2018 we hired 85 apprentices across the country. And this year we have 96 positions that have been offered or are going through. Ollie Rees, degree apprentice within the London and South East Infrastructure team has been gaining experience in rail projects, “the apprentice scheme has allowed me to gain opportunities, experiences, and life skills that I would not have gained from going straight to university. I have learnt so much, most of this has come from experience through work, supported by my university studies.”

Rosie Gay, a degree apprentice part of the London and South East building surveying team says, "The apprentice scheme has helped me to further my knowledge of the industry. It has provided practical learning opportunities which is supported by my university studies. The best thing about the scheme is that I have had the opportunity to develop and work alongside a great team."

As part of a wide STEM campaign to help inspire young minds, Atkins created a learning series for teachers and students, together with Atkins, we endeavour to continue our support of STEM activities across our offices.

If you are interested in applying to Faithful+Gould as an apprentice or graduate, please click here for more information.


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