Cambridge Science Centre

 

Mathworks pair with Cambridge Science Centre and the Science Museaum to promote STEM Careers

Written on 30 Oct 2015 in Press Mentions

The failure to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers at schools is causing a drop-off of Stem-based choices throughout education, cutting students off from related careers, Chris Hayhurst of software firm Mathworks has warned.

Mathworks has recently paired with the Science Museum and the Cambridge Science Centre to dissuade students from dropping science, technology, engineering and maths-based subjects, giving them more of a chance of a career in Stem industries and roles if they want one in the future.

“We’re very keen to see long term that the UK is producing people out of the education system from primary school to secondary school to university, people who are interested, enthusiastic, who will be into Stem, because we know there is a tendency for people not to choose those subjects as they go through school,” Hayhurst said.

“Then they’ve really cut themselves off.”

Hayhurst also pointed out that the skills gap is widening because many students graduate from university without any Stem-based skills at all.

Some organisations are addressing the crisis by recruiting and training up staff now to plug the skills gap and increase the retention rate for their companies. It’s something that Mathworks is already doing.

“There’s a limited pool of people; we need to make the best of those people that we’ve got right now but also feed that funnel and make sure that in the future there are more of those people coming through because we want our industry to grow,” Hayhurst explained.

“The people who are going to be interested anyway – because they’ve got parents who are scientists or mathematicians – will pick these subjects and will go through; what we’re really keen to do is make sure that reach is widened.”

Long-term plan

But it’s also important to expand the number of people who want to do Stem in the future so the drop-off doesn’t continue. Part of the collaboration between Mathworks, the Science Museum and the Cambridge Science Centre is addressing this.

“We want to invest in the long term to encourage children at the earlier stages that Stem in particular is being overlooked, that all of those areas would be interesting, that they’d be hands-on, and people will get to grips with them and see that they’re fun and just limitless in their scope,” Hayhurst said.

He added that collaboration has made it easier to promote a unified message.

“We could go off on all different kinds of projects and set things up in isolation, but then that’s just a proliferation of separate initiatives,” he explained.

The collaboration has allowed Mathworks to use the Science Museum and the Cambridge Science Centre to reach an audience it would not normally have access to.

“We see our role in quite a wide sense as to increase scientific literacy and to encourage people in scientific skills, and that’s really important in plugging the skills gap at the moment. But it’s also really important for adults to get into science now to encourage their own children to get into science in the future,” said Toby Parkin from the London Science Museum.

“We try to look at encouraging scientific skills in people and if that leads to a career that’s fantastic. But we go a lot further than that in one sense because we do have exhibitions for careers in Stem.”

Single message

Parkin said the collaboration between different museums and science centres across the country has transformed a message that was once disparate into one focused on achieving the same goal – getting people interested in Stem.

Source: Computer Weekly