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Spaceport Cornwall and Goonhilly engineer win STEM awards for inspiring future space professionals

Published: Jul 22, 2022 4 min read

STEM Learning

Spaceport Cornwall was presented with the first “special recognition for a STEM employer” prize for engaging with and inspiring the next generation of space professionals, during an awards ceremony at the Farnborough International Airshow. 
Spaceport Cornwall will host the UK’s first satellite launch later this year and participates in the One Million Interactions programme, created by UK Space Agency and STEM Learning.

Spaceport Cornwall was applauded for its outstanding commitment to education, encouraging more than half of its staff to take part in activities within schools, colleges and universities across the UK, reaching 10,000 young people through programmes including a virtual work experience scheme, exhibitions and competitions.

This included the spaceport’s “Story of a Satellite” exhibition last year, which attracted 5,000 young people to learn more about the work behind the upcoming UK launch and the rocket that will deliver the satellites into space. Spaceport Cornwall is at the heart of a growing aerospace and space cluster and will create 150 jobs in the local area.

Dave Pollard, Education and Outreach Manager at Spaceport Cornwall, said: 

“We are so pleased to receive this award from STEM Learning. We are super passionate about inspiring the next generation and our “Story of a Satellite” exhibition was a particularly amazing event to organise. It was great to meet so many people excited about the first launch from the UK.”

Also receiving an award was Ed Chester, a spacecraft systems engineer at Goonhilly Earth Station, who won the programme’s first individual “special recognition for a STEM ambassador” prize for his work in promoting the space industry to schools.

Formerly a European Space Agency engineer who worked on the UK’s Beagle-2 Mars lander, Chester recently worked on upgrading the space exploration facilities at Goonhilly and acts as schools liaison officer for Leicestershire at the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He has worked as a STEM ambassador for six years and is passionate about promoting opportunities within the UK space sector to young people.

Ed Chester said:

“When I was eight, I had a very clear plan that I was going to work in space. However, nothing I experienced at school, or anywhere else, showed me that this could be possible in the UK, so I left. 

“Today there is real demand for people in the UK space sector, and we must create the education and training pipeline to fill this demand all the way from primary school through to employment. Things are changing fast and key stage 2 and 3 pupils are the raw minds that will get us further in space.

“I am delighted to be recognised as a STEM Ambassador helping with this pipeline, and I’d like to thank ESERO-UK, the UK Space Agency, STEM Learning, and all those I work with. I am one of hundreds of space ambassadors who thrive on seeing questions form, faces light up, and the "I get it!" moments when abstract knowledge gains a real context.”

  

 

One Million Interactions aims to connect as many of the UK’s 47,000 space sector workers as possible with young people, to inspire prospective scientists and engineers with their eye on the skies.

Now in its third year, the programme has met the one million interactions milestone thanks to similar interactions across the UK, led by almost 1,000 space ambassadors who have registered with the programme.

Ingmar Kamalagharan, Education and Outreach Manager at UK Space Agency, said:

“Engaging with young people face to face, and giving them the chance to see and hear first-hand what opportunities STEM education can bring, is crucial for their career development.

“It provides the opportunity to ask questions and directly challenge misconceptions about who can have a space career and what opportunities the UK offers, which is really important to ensure we are levelling up the space sector and improving diversity in STEM. 

“We want to encourage all teachers and youth leaders across the UK to register with One Million Interactions to bring a space expert into their class or club.”

 

As the European Space Education Resource Office UK (ESERO-UK), STEM Learning is positioned to engage with and influence the space sector on how it reaches and works with young people. The space industry in the UK is rapidly growing, and so it’s important that we keep an up-to-date knowledge of the needs of the wider European space sector and the role that students and young professionals have, to better inform the work of ESERO-UK in inspiring the next generation of space professionals.