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Insights Big Bang Fair ignites passion in next generation - and we were there

The Big Bang Fair recently popped up in Birmingham, marking its tenth – and biggest – year with over 90,000 students, teachers and parents stopping by to find out what a career involving STEM subjects can lead to. As in previous years, we were enthusiastic participants in the four-day event and took the opportunity to show off what we do and why young people of all ages should be interested in science, technology, engineering and maths.

This year, we wanted to show that a career in STEM can be for girls, boys and people from all backgrounds so our stand had a big emphasis on diversity and inclusion. One area we focused on was the gender balance of our volunteers. Over the course of the event we had 43% female volunteers and 57% male volunteers, with an even 50/50 split kicking off the first day. For the first time, we also encouraged parents to volunteer on the Saturday to help advise other parents who were visiting the Big Bang Fair with their children.

“Engaging with young people and improving the diversity of our early careers group plays a fundamental role in our ambition to achieve greater gender balance and a more inclusive culture, says Sharron Pamplin, HR Director, UK & Europe. “Once again, our team of volunteers has done a sterling job of inspiring the next generation to consider a career in our sector. Involving parents, who are among the most influential when it comes to a young person’s career choices, was a particularly innovative touch.”

Our apprentice recruitment advisor is starting to see applications come through from people who were first introduced to our business at a previous Big Bang Fair, which proves that our attendance at this event really can play dividends down the road.

Give a hand to our volunteers

In total, 45 employees volunteered at the Big Bang Fair this year – a big increase on 2017. Together, they clocked a total of 371 hours on our stand where visitors had a chance to play our Rail or Fail board game, build boats out of foil and take a virtual trip around London in 2050 using an Oculus Rift. Some of our volunteers also lent a hand at the Environment Agency’s stand, where our popular Lego Flood Game made an appearance.

“I might be biased, but I think that our stand was the best one at the Fair! We attracted a lot of teenagers and parents, who were both really interested to see what we have to offer. The experience of volunteering at this event has given a great boost to my self-confidence and strengthened my ability to start a conversation with new people. Last but not least, getting to know the other volunteers was the best bit for me," says graduate engineer, Mohammad Shudri.

Signalling engineer, Keith Upton helped to coordinate this years’ group of volunteers:
“The atmosphere and the buzz at the Big Bang Fair is always incredible and with as many as 25,000 attendees learning about STEM each day, our volunteers needed non-stop energy. With some students queuing for half an hour just to try our virtual reality game, we took the opportunity to engage with them one-to-one about their thoughts for the future. I want to thank all of the volunteers for committing their time to this event, and for making it a lot of fun for the rest of us too.”

“What a privilege it is for us to be shaping the future careers of the next generation, added Jamie Sharp, interim managing director, Transportation and a proud sponsor of this year’s stand.

"This event was so inspiring and I’m sure has influenced many of its visitors to think differently about how they can get involved in the STEM sector and make a difference to the world we live in.”

Inspiring the next generation

While the Big Bang Fair is an important opportunity to talk to young people about what a career in STEM can offer them, our network of STEM Ambassadors dedicates time to this all year round by visiting schools, Brownie groups, Scout troupes and the like.
This year, in conjunction with Year of Engineering, we’re looking to reach more young people than ever before and have some exciting plans up our sleeves. We’ve kicked off our campaign with takeovers on Instagram Stories (follow @atkins_global) and will be building in more activities throughout the year so stay tuned and get involved.