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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New UHI STEM Officers to Support Learning Throughout The Outer Hebrides

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The University of the Highlands and Islands’ new STEM outreach coordinators recently met for the first time at an event in Inverness.

The ten coordinators, who are based at campuses across the UHI partnership, have been recruited to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to primary school children across the north of Scotland.

This includes new STEM officers based in Stornoway and Castlebay for the Outer Hebrides.

Monica MacLeod, based in Barra, has been involved in STEM engagement for 20 years now.

She commented:

“Through my previous role as a Life Science lecturer I will continue in my new role as UHI STEM Coordinator for the Outer Hebrides.

“I am passionate about STEM, and can’t wait to get into schools to run fun and hands on workshops with the local school pupils.

“There are huge opportunities in STEM at the moment, and this is such an exciting project to be part of.

“I’m really excited to get started!”

Joan D’Arcy, based in Stornoway added: 

“Our role is to develop and deliver UHI’s new STEM outreach programme aimed at Early Years and Primary Schools. 

“We will work with academic partners, industry, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to deliver STEM training specially tailored to the needs of the Outer Hebrides.

“The aim of the programme is to positively affect students’ aspirations towards continuing STEM education and ultimately into STEM-related careers and creating an educated future workforce for many of Scotland’s key green economic sectors, such as wind energy.”

The project, which was announced earlier this year, has been supported with funding from offshore wind project developers.

West of Orkney Windfarm, Buchan Offshore Wind, Thistle Wind Partners (TWP) and Ossian, a joint venture project led by SSER, Marubeni and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, have collectively donated £960,000 to help UHI extend its STEM outreach programme for a three-year period.

The programme delivers materials and training to teachers across UHI’s operating area to build their confidence and knowledge in subjects they may not be familiar with.

The UHI team will also work with other agencies involved in STEM outreach to support local needs.

Additional funding to support two roles for the Outer Hebrides was provided by Northland Power, who in partnership with ESB are developing the Spiorad na Mara and Havbredey offshore wind projects off the coast of the Outer Hebrides. 

“We are delighted to support the UHI in promoting careers in science, technology, engineering, and maths.

“With the ambitious plans in place to develop a world class offshore wind industry in Scotland, there has never been a better time to help inspire and inform primary school children of the exciting career opportunities which lie ahead”, said Tanya Davies, Project Director, Northland Power.

The STEM coordinators gathered for the first time in Inverness at the venue of the Scotsman’s Highland and Islands Green Energy Conference to discuss their plans.

They also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the offshore wind project developers.

UHI also had a number of speakers at the green energy conference.

Dr Su Bryan, UHI’s Dean of the Faculty of Science, Health and Engineering, joined a panel which explored how we can address skills gaps in our region; Dr Neil Wight, Subject Network Leader for Engineering and the Built Environment, contributed to a panel discussion on future of Scotland’s energy systems and Alison Wilson, Director of Advancement and Alumni Engagement, helped to provide insights on the opportunities and challenges of the offshore wind industry.

Dr Su Bryan, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Health and Engineering, at UHI said: 

“I’m delighted to see our newly formed STEM team gathering for the first time at the start of our ambitious three-year project.

“It’s fitting that this should happen at the Highlands and Islands Green Energy Conference.

“There are important opportunities for young people in our regions to play their part in achieving Scotland’s net zero ambition, with careers in green energy a big part of that.

“To achieve our goals, we need to promote these opportunities and support learners to acquire the STEM skills they will need.

“This transformational project has been made possible through our collaboration with industry donors. Our outreach coordinators have a wealth of experience in inspiring young people.

“It’s so exciting to see what we can achieve together.”

UHI Outer Hebrides legally merged with UHI North Highland and UHI West Highland on 1st August 2023 to form UHI North, West and Hebrides. Scotland’s newest college will celebrate its launch in September.

Hannah Ritchie-Muir, Vice Principal – Academic and Senior Responsible Officer for Outer Hebrides, said: 

“These new roles are already creating new opportunities in STEM for the Outer Hebrides, as can be seen in our support of the recent and hugely successful Barra Science Festival.

“Providing new opportunities for our local communities is at the heart of what we do here at UHI and there new STEM roles will do exactly that.”

For information on courses at visit  – https://www.outerhebrides.uhi.ac.uk/courses/ – Places still available for September 2023

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