The centre piece of the agenda was to explore the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to the Northern Ireland economy and consider how we develop these skills in our workforce. The speakers were:
- Sir Reg Empey– Minister for Employment and Learning
- Prof. Damian McDonnell– Chair of the Matrix Panel
- Richard Noble– Director of the Bloodhound SSC Project
- Bill McGinnis– NI Adviser on Employment and Skills
- Aideen McGinley– Permanent Secretary at the Department for Employment and Learning
It was educational, informative and reassuring to know that STEM is on the minds of so many people including Government Ministers. There was a wide and varied group of attendees from Government, Educators and Industry and the passion was very evident that this is an area that needs to and will be addressed.
I was especially impressed with the keynote from Richard Noble. His group was responsible for breaking the land speed record (and the sound barrier!!) in 1997 with Thrust SSC. The record at 763.035 mph (1221 km/h) or Mach 1.02.
His latest project is Bloodhound SSC where he and his team are attempting to break their own world record and achieve a speed of 1000 mph!!!
He refers to it as an “Engineering Adventure” which I thought was a terrific way to position it. They are learning as they go along from their experience, mistakes and the community which assists them. Teachers and Students can join them on “their adventure”. Teachers can register their schools HERE and Students as young as 5 and 6 can join in on this journey by joining the Primary Bloodhound SSC Project. They can find additional resources on the Primary Bloodhound website.
Overall, a really well spent and thought provoking morning.