The 8th annual STEM Festival, held at BP’s International Centre for Business and Technology (ICBT) in West London, is a day-long event celebrating the achievements of young people in engineering. Teams of students work together to tackle real-life engineering projects and produce creative, sustainable solutions to challenges faced in industry. The STEM Festival gives the teams the opportunity to present their findings to parents, teachers and a panel of judges provided by BP and other local companies. The judges look for innovative solutions that show an excellent grasp of the STEM issues raised in the project and awards are based on presentation, teamwork, creativity and sustainability.
The groups took part in one of two programmes run by the Engineering Development Trust and funded by BP - Go4Set and the Engineering Education Scheme.
The younger students worked on a 10-week project entitled ‘Challenging Environments’ which encouraged them to understand how science and technology can help people live and work in some of the harshest environments on Earth. They worked in small teams to address the problem, created a project plan and presented a report and a physical model which demonstrated their approach and solution. To help the teams tackle their project each team was allocated a business mentor with an engineering or science background. The role of the mentor was to provide guidance, challenge and real-world context to help the teams to complete the project.
The older students tackled a six-month engineering project. The theme for the project was set by the mentor for each team and was based on a real world challenge that the mentor’s company is currently facing. Examples included coming up with alternative ways to build structures on the seabed, to creating a renewably powered oil tanker. During the project phase, students were encouraged to show industrial enterprise, creativity and innovation while gaining extensive experience of problem-solving, team-working and project management. They also got access to university facilities to build and test their solutions. Often the students have developed solutions that companies have then gone on to implement.