Royal Air Force Wittering’s STEM team has won the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Inspiring Engineering Award for 2018.
Science Technology Engineering & Maths (STEM) subjects are a real priority for government and businesses in the United Kingdom. All three Armed Forces have dedicated STEM teams, encouraging young people to consider STEM at school and choose a related career.
The award was presented this morning by Air Vice Marshal Sue Gray, Air Officer Commanding RAF 38 Group. Over eighty percent of jobs in the Royal Air Force require some level of STEM education and, like so many organisations in the UK, the RAF needs to recruit a steady stream of qualified school leavers and graduates.
The IET Inspiring Engineering Award is given to the team that has made an outstanding contribution to encouraging young people into STEM subjects and enthusing the next generation of engineers. 2018 has been a busy year for RAF Wittering’s STEM team, who delivered a series of imaginative and high-quality youth engagement events.
Group Captain Tony Keeling is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering, a Royal Air Force Engineer and STEM Ambassador. He said: “The work RAF Wittering’s STEM team has put into in inspiring the next generation during RAF100 has been exceptional. Their commitment, energy and initiative in delivering events that have real engagement and educational value has been superb.”
The biggest STEM event in 2018 was the Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham. As it was a centenary year, the RAF had the biggest stand and engineers from Wittering were on hand to give the thousands of young people hands-on experience of aircraft engineering.
In April 2018, 100 young people from the Air Cadets and uniformed youth organisations came to RAF Wittering and experienced engineering and logistics for themselves. The five-day residential course was based around a hypothetical humanitarian relief operation and demonstrated how science is key to logistics and engineering.
Warrant Officer Steve Poulton is the Youth Engagement Warrant Officer at RAF Wittering, but served as a logistics officer for more than 38 years before retiring. He said: “The team have given their professional expertise and their own time to ensure that STEM at Wittering is a big success. We ran our first event in 2015 and it’s been a huge success ever since. I am proud to still be a member of this amazingly dedicated team and to have received this award.”
Race for the Line (RFTL) brought hundreds of year-seven students to RAF Wittering for the regional and national finals of the competition. Teams from schools across the country designed, built and raced miniature rocket powered dragsters.
Group Captain Keeling concluded: “This is a fantastic achievement and well-earned recognition for the considerable contribution made by STEM Ambassadors at RAF Wittering. Our STEM team is drawn from across the branches and trades, but they all understand the importance of getting young minds tuned into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.”