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Celebrating our STEM Ambassadors

November 13, 2019

Our team of dedicated and enthusiastic STEM ambassadors give up their time to inspire potential future engineers to fulfil our STEM initiative

Stantec works extensively to support the uptake of STEM subjects in schools and colleges to encourage more young people to take up careers in the development and infrastructure industry. We have an ongoing commitment to engage with local communities to open a world of opportunities in engineering careers to students who may have otherwise remained unaware.

We spoke to a few to find out more about why they do what they do and to learn more about what keeps them motivated.

Kirstie Thistlethwaite, Graduate Engineer – Hydrology

What is your STEM background and route into your career in STEM?

I studied Maths, Chemistry, Geography and Art at A level. While in Sixth Form I looked into many university degrees that lead to various careers, from teaching to fine art to chemistry. I eventually settled on a BSc in Environmental Science at Bath Spa University. I believe this decision was influenced by a childhood spent exploring the outdoors on our family farm, and work experience I did at the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology where I developed my knowledge in STEM subjects.

In my undergraduate degree, I went on a field trip to India where we studied the hydrology of the Lower Himalaya alongside the knowledge of local people surrounding hydrology. This sparked my interest in the engineering associated with hydrology, which leads me to undertake an MSc in Water and Environmental Management under the Faculty of Engineering, University of Bristol. After graduating I decided to take a gap year while I found a job within the consultancy sector.

What do you love about being a STEM ambassador?

I thoroughly enjoy working with young people developing and changing their perspectives on who an engineer is and what we do on a day to day bases. I love seeing their understanding grow on how STEM is utilised in the ‘real world’. I believe being a STEM ambassador not only benefits the young people but also supports my continual professional development and is very fulfilling.

What is your favourite STEM event that you recently volunteered at?

I have been loving taking part in Go4SET, which a 10-week project and competition a local school. The team are developing an Eco Factory for which they are producing a scaled model, a research report, a presentation and display boards which they are to be presented at the University of Plymouth on the celebration day. All the participants will receive Industrial Cadets awards at the end of the project. It is fantastic to see their creative and STEM knowledge within the Eco Factory design.

Eleanor Robinson, Apprentice Technician 2

What is your STEM background and route into your career in STEM?

Whilst completing my A-Levels, I applied to study a degree in Business Management at the University of Worcester and received a Conditional Offer. I deferred my place, with the plan of taking a gap year and during this time I met Haider and Warren from Stantec at an EDGE Careers Fair. At the event, Haider explained what PBA do and how they offer apprenticeships. I had never considered an apprenticeship within the engineering sector as I thought you had to be super intelligent! That evening, I applied for the position online and I’ve never looked back.

What do you love about being a STEM ambassador?

I love being a STEM Ambassador as it allows me to provide students and staff from local schools with up-to-date information on how to find/apply for an apprenticeship, as well as discuss the opportunity of going to university and the engineering sector. As a young person, I find that I am approachable at these events which has allowed me to speak from my own experience and advise young people with difficult decisions.

What is your favourite STEM event that you recently volunteered at?

One of my favourite events was at a Careers Fair when I was approached by one of my former secondary school teachers. She was both shocked and happy to see me at the event and wanted to hear about how I came to be an apprentice. Since then, she has invited me to speak at my old school about my journey and how apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity!

Minvydas Razaitis, Graduate Engineer

What is your STEM background and route into your career in STEM?

Ever since I can remember I’ve always liked building stuff, and during my school years I was very fortunate to naturally do well in both Maths and Physics. Over time these subjects became my favourite subjects, and a career in structural engineering became an obvious path I would enjoy. I graduated from the University of Sheffield and having done internships in several different companies I found myself in a great company with the Stantec team in Oxford.

What do you love about being a STEM ambassador?

Besides having an incredible graduate training scheme, Stantec encourages all its graduates to become STEM ambassadors which is a great way to take part in all sorts of interesting events, and more importantly to help the younger generation discover the sense of fulfilment and responsibility drawn from a career in engineering can help to achieve.

What is your favourite STEM event that you recently volunteered at?

Within my first year at Stantec, me and my colleagues, Will Davies and James Lambeth, were entrusted to develop and implement a STEM pipeline programme where we worked to organise a total of eight full-day workshops for over fifty students in Reading and Heathrow UTCs. These are only a few from many exciting events I’ve had a chance to take part in, and now having joined forces with Stantec I’m certain there will be many more to come.

Originally published by PBA, now Stantec.

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