The power of STEM Ambassadors: challenging stereotypes and changing lives
Marie Williams is a STEM Ambassador, Senior Chartered Engineer and the founder and CEO of Dream Networks. We chatted to Marie about her experiences of being a STEM Ambassador and the impact this has had on herself, her colleagues and young people.
I haven’t always had an avid passion and interest in engineering. In fact, when I was 16 I had no idea what engineering was. I just knew I liked design, maths, geography, art and science.
I wanted to be an inventor and the closest career to an inventor that I had knowledge of was a product designer. That was until my physics teacher intervened and encourage me to apply for a week-long residential engineering career summer programme at Bristol University.
During that week I was introduced to the world of engineering through visiting engineering sites, learning about engineering subjects, gaining insights from peers and, perhaps most importantly, learning about engineering careers through engineers who volunteered their time.
This is why I decided to become a STEM Ambassador – I wanted to share my experiences as an engineer and facilitate STEM-based workshops. My aim is to enable children to realise that STEM is fun, rewarding, and creative, it improves lives and can change the world.
Over the last ten years of being a STEM Ambassador, I have had the privilege of collaboratively developing miniature Bloodhound cars with 7-8 year olds, using STEM principles to emphasise the importance of eating healthy, developed playgrounds with children and Massai Mara men in Tanzania, shared the wide range of careers STEM affords while standing at numerous career stands, facilitated fun workshops that used STEM to illustrate sustainability challenges, built virtual playgrounds with youth and much more.
"My aim is to enable children to realise that STEM is fun, rewarding, and creative, it improves lives and can change the world."
In 2013, I was selected as one of four finalists for the IET Young Woman of the Year Awards. I truly believe this would not have been possible if I had not developed a multifaceted engineering passion through my experiences as a STEM Ambassador and also had the opportunity to invest in the lives of children.
Through interacting with other STEM volunteers, I have also been able to challenge my limitations, develop my communication skills and gain lifelong friends.
My rewarding experience as a STEM Ambassador was one of the key ingredients to me starting my own social enterprise (Dream Networks) which collaborates with STEM Ambassadors to co-design and build play areas with disadvantaged children through STE(A)M-based workshops in our Love Plays programme.
To anyone who is thinking of investing their time as a STEM Ambassador to volunteer, I would say “just do it”. It is an exciting role and, trust me, you will get a return on your investment.
We’re incredibly proud of our volunteers
Our 30,000 STEM Ambassadors, representing more than 2,500 employers, play an essential role in inspiring and engaging the next generation of scientists, technicians, engineers, mathematicians and technologists. This December, we’re shining the light on some of the many fantastic STEM Ambassadors around the UK.