Birmingham leads the way with national Materials Science and Engineering outreach programme

discover materials

In the School of Metallurgy and Materials we are tireless in our determination to inspire the next generation to study materials.

We took a major role in setting up the Discover Materials group (www.discovermaterials.uk), a new initiative to co-ordinate materials outreach amongst Materials Departments at Universities across the UK. The Discover Materials group, in collaboration with the Henry Royce Institute (https://www.royce.ac.uk/), appointed Dr Chris Hamlett to the post of Henry Royce National Outreach Officer for Materials Science and Engineering in May 2019, and we are delighted to host him here at the University of Birmingham.

Chris’ work is focussed on inspiring school pupils to take up Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) degrees at UK universities. The Discover Materials project he Chris working on multiple initiatives including a national survey of 16-18 year olds and their attitudes towards MSE, a series of posters for school and sixth form teachers to put in their classrooms highlighting the career opportunities that an MSE degree can open up, and commissioning a video to promote MSE as a discipline.

He is also setting up a UK-wide network of MSE ambassadors to promote the discipline in schools, online and at public events such as the Big Bang Fair held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The Big Bang Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK and offers the unique opportunity for live demonstrations, inspirational talks, and education and career information to thousands of young people in one event. Chris coordinated a large, collaborative stand with Carl-Zeiss, Henry Royce Institute, IOM3 and RMS, plus with activity stands run by MSE departments from three universities and the Dove Group (School of Chemistry, UoB) showcasing their research in turning waste CDs into 3D printable filaments. The event was also going to be used to launch the ‘Discover Materials’ video, produced by Born Communications, to attract young people to think about a career in materials. Please circulate this video to any young people or schoolteachers who might be interested.

 

Sadly, the Big Bang was another victim of COVID-19 so Chris took a ‘light’ version of the Discover Materials stand to primary and secondary schools in Birmingham who were due to attend the Big Bang Fair. The video was released as part of the virtual “Discover Materials Open Week” aimed at 16-18 year olds and included many live events covering a range of aspects of Materials Science and Engineering. There was a very interesting show from Marty Jopson (a regular science presenter on BBC One’s ‘The One Show’) who spoke about materials in mobile phones, plus a live discussion from academics in the Discover Materials group on the materials helping in the current pandemic.  As a more interactive option, academics, recent graduates and representatives from industry help a live Q&A session which saw an array of career paths discussed. In addition to this we also held a competition to design a new infographic describing a materials that has helped participants during lockdown which saw some fantastic entries. Recordings of all these activities, and many other resources recorded for the event, can be found on www.discovermaterials.uk.

 

We look forward to reinstating Chris’ grand plans for the Discover Materials Big Bang Fair and outreach work in Birmingham schools as soon as we are able.  In the meantime, we encourage you to share this video with your friends and families, and help others share in our passion for Materials Science and Engineering.

As part of our outreach activities, we also like to tell good stories about careers in materials: we’d love to hear about your experiences so please do get in touch by emailing our Alumni Relations Manager Grace on eps-community@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

If you are interested in finding out more about Discover Materials then please email C.A.Hamlett@bham.ac.uk. Details of our undergraduate degrees can be found at www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/metallurgy-materials/undergraduate-courses.