Why it pays to give back: chemical engineering graduate discusses the importance of outreach

Earlier this month recent graduate William Davies was interviewed by The Chemical Engineer for a feature discussing the importance of outreach in encouraging young people to consider careers in science and engineering.

will davies outreach air products

William graduated with an MEng Chemical Engineering with Industrial Placement in 2017 and is now a process engineer with Air Products on their five-year graduate programme. He believes that seeking an employer with a strategic approach to STEM outreach offers benefits at every level.

“At school I was always of a science and engineering mindset and, having looked into the options, I decided that chemical engineering was the best course for me. I think that if I had benefited from more proactive STEM outreach activities, I would have made my decision much sooner.

“For me, it’s important that outreach extends all the way from primary school through to university.

“As a recent graduate, now just five months into Air Products’ graduate programme I feel I can really make a difference to this. I act as outreach officer on behalf of our Graduate Council, getting involved with events such as TeenTech and The Big Bang. 

“I also organise and run an engineering work experience week for school children aged 15–18. This includes a site visit to an air separation unit, presentations and exercises including a design project to give an insight in to how we operate globally. It’s amazing to see how young people can really open up and get inspired when you offer them a window into our industry.

“I’d encourage any new recruit to really get involved in STEM outreach work. Once you’re in the mindset of giving back, the opportunities just keep coming – I now act as a mentor for a second-year student at the university I graduated from, for example. Strengthening the links between industry and education like this is really important and helps give an insight into what working life is like. I wish I had benefited from that sort of insight when I was still studying.

“It’s not all altruistic either. I’m not only helping to inspire and inform young people, I’m also gaining management and engagement skills that I wouldn’t have necessarily gained from my job itself. It’s a win-win situation.”

 

The full article is available on The Chemical Engineer website.  If you like William you are interested in getting involved in outreach projects at the University please email Grace Surman on eps-community@contacts.bham.ac.uk.