The University of Sheffield’s Women in Engineering Student Society is bringing Virtual Reality to the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at this year’s Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair.
Founded in 2012, the society has been at the forefront of promoting engineering to women and widening participation students for the university. With a growing membership their main aim is to redress the gender imbalance of the discipline by targeting primary school children and encouraging them to think about what engineering is and how exciting STEM subjects can be.
The society regularly take their engineering challenges, such as building a solid structure out of marshmallow and spaghetti, to primary schools to ensure that the next generation are equipped with enough information about the sector before deciding what they would like to do in the future, most notably before they make their subject choices at GCSE and A Level.
The society will be replicating their outreach ambitions at the fair with their successful ‘Crash Landing’ Virtual Reality game which helps young people engage with engineering via a VR headset taking them on a journey into space. The game is part of Engineering Is a campaign based on the Suzie & Ricky book that the society wrote. The idea took the society to Parliament where they introduced the book, the game and the microsite to MP’s with the intention of placing the resource in front of every school child in Britain.
Alongside this, they will be showcasing the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy Engineering (SELA) 360 Virtual Reality video trail; as well as engaging students in tower building and small table-top activities.
As it is the Year of Engineering 2018, the Big Bang Fair is an opportunity for the students to get out of the labs and classrooms and explain how engineering works to children in an exciting and engaging way.
Chemical Engineering student and president of the society said: “'We are thrilled to be a part of The Big Bang Fair this year - our aim is to inspire and encourage as many young people as possible to pursue engineering related subjects and careers. We hope to give them some insight into what engineering actually entails, and portray just how exciting and varied a career it can be.”
The Big Bang Fair, Birmingham, is host to various STEM professionals who offer interactive workshops, exhibits and careers information aimed at young people in the 7-19 year bracket. It is held on 14 - 17 March.