Did you know that W5 coordinates the STEM Ambassador Hub in Northern Ireland? We manage a database of over 1,300 professionals with STEM skills who have volunteered to promote science, technology, engineering and maths in local schools.
The STEM Ambassador Programme is a UK-wide initiative and free of charge service to schools and youth groups, which aims to encourage young people to have an interest in studying and following a career in STEM subjects. STEM Ambassadors not only have the opportunity to enrich and enhance the learning experience for young people, but individuals who volunteer as STEM Ambassadors can also develop new skills and gain increased work satisfaction.
Mark Corkery is just one of our fantastic volunteers on the STEM Ambassador Programme. We caught up with Mark to find out about his own experience as a STEM Ambassador.
"I have a BSc in Computer Science which led to a career as a software engineer for some amazing companies including Ericsson, Intel, Liberty IT and Juniper."
"I met Roald Dahl way back in 1988 when he came to Dublin to launch the MS Readathon. Our class were lucky enough to have been selected to join the event!"
Why did you become a STEM Ambassador?
"I started taking my oldest son to the local Coderdojo in Banbridge 5 years ago. In a story familiar with many parents who find themselves accidentally becoming coaches of their children's clubs, when the previous champion had to step back, it was my turn to take over.
As a dojo, we introduced the rule that all our mentors become STEM Ambassadors. Doing so ensures their background has been checked, and in addition to the child safety training, the mentors are also plugged into a wider network of support with access to additional STEM events if they wish."
What is your favourite thing about being an Ambassador?
"Just those light bulb moments when a young person figures something out for themselves, based on the foundations you've helped them achieve."
What does STEM mean to you?
"I love seeing how kids take STEM and make it much more accessible, usually by adding a sprinkle of art to it as well, so I think STEM is great as it takes this fantastic technology and it connects much more with the people who consume it."
Who is your biggest STEM inspiration and why?
"I'm always blown away by all of the volunteers who give up their time to help others, in particular by my fellow mentors in Coderdojo Banbridge, and all the mentors worldwide who are part of the Coderdojo movement
The events run by Andrew Mulholland, Jack Delaney and the rest of the crew who run NI Raspberry Jam definitely encourage young people to explore not only coding, but also topics across STEM. In the same vein, the work being done by the likes of Lisa Donaldson and the Women Who Code are also key in addressing diversity within STEM so they definitely inspire and deserve praise.
I've been lucky enough to see Professor Brian Cox twice in Belfast and both times walked away inspired, not fully grasping all of the content, but happy nonetheless!"
Our STEM Ambassadors play an essential role in inspiring and engaging the next generation of scientists, technicians, engineers, mathematicians and technologists. If you would like to register as a STEM Ambassador or find out more about the programme click here