Today (5th December) is International Volunteer Day and to celebrate we are showcasing all the brilliant work our STEM Ambassadors have been involved in this year
5th December, 2019
International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly, is held each year on 5 December. It is an opportunity for us all to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognise volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels.
This year the UN is marking #IVD2019 with the theme “Volunteer for an inclusive future“, highlighting SDG 10 and the pursuit of equality – including inclusion – through volunteerism.
Volunteering provides opportunities for people, particularly those often excluded, to concretely impact their own lives and play a constructive role in their communities by volunteering their time and skills. Through volunteerism, communities around the world often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion.
At Amiosec, we strongly believe in equality and inclusion, especially when it comes to advocating for more opportunities and support for women in the engineering industry. Currently only about 12% of engineers are women (WES Statistics) and when the engineering industry contributes a large portion of the UK’s annual GDP – 26% to be precise which equates to about £127 billion contributed to our economy (WES Statistics), we believe that there should be a higher representation of women in the industry to live up to our full potential. Recruiting more women to the industry will open up new ideas and drive innovation, helping to come up with solutions to the problems we currently face.
Employees of Amiosec therefore dedicate a portion of their time to participating in STEM events in order to encourage more students, especially more women, to think about a career in STEM. There are more engineering jobs available than we have people to fill them, so at Amiosec we feel that it is part of our corporate responsibility to help feed the engineering pipeline with new recruits for the future. We do this by volunteering as STEM Ambassadors to encourage and inspire young people into the world of engineering.
This year has been a busy year for our STEM Ambassadors. We started the year with a presentation on the history of cryptography and a workshop cracking Caesar and Vigenere cipher puzzles at Cyber UK in Glasgow in April. Several of our employees then participated in mock interviews at Tewkesbury School, just down the road from our workplace. Amiosec then became involved with NCSC’s Cyber Schools Hub project, where we have supported several STEM events including a Year 9 Cyber Day at Newent Community School, a Girls into STEM event at Bournside School, the EmPowerCyber event to inspire 800 Y8 girls, and we have started to attend a Cyber Club at Tewkesbury School! On top of that we have supported the Unlock Cyber Project’s Cyber Taster Day in Bristol as well as appearing on the BBC’s News and Radio to discuss the importance of encouraging more women into the engineering industry. An amazing year of engagement where we have hopefully inspired some young students to continue studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and to then go on to study STEM at university or start an apprenticeship in the engineering industry.
We asked a few of our STEM Ambassadors “What is your favourite thing about volunteering as a STEM Ambassador?” and here are some of the responses we got:
- Ben said: “For me, it is the interaction with the pupils. I love that they have the confidence to ask questions and start conversations, sometimes about quite random subjects! Each time they move to the next activity in the sequence you can see the excitement in their faces as they are eager to see what they need to do next. They clearly have a desire to look at something new and work it out.”
- Lauren said: “The best thing for me is seeing the difference in students at the start and end of a workshop or activity that you are running. Some of the students are very disengaged, bored or distracted at the beginning, either not interested in the subject as they have already made up their mind about what it is, or they think that they are not smart enough and can’t do the activity. But then when you get going into the activity, and the students realise that there are many aspects of it – whether it is cracking a Caesar Cipher message, or searching for information on a website, solving logical puzzles or learning about binary – then you see that change in the student. Their eyes light up, they become more engaged and some might even say “Oh I do know how to do this!”. It is those students that I know I have made an impact on, and perhaps shown them that they can do a lot more than they think if they give themselves a chance. It is very rewarding and I hope that opportunities like this are having an impact on the students and the future of engineering.”
- Mike said: “My favourite thing about volunteering as a STEM ambassador was watching how much the students enjoyed the activity, and also helping to guide them through it. From seeing some of their faces light up as they discovered the next part of the sequence, to hearing one scream as they discovered the bomb had a timer on it, was very enjoyable. It is always rewarding to see when you have really helped a student learn something valuable for their future.”
- Matt said: “For me, my favourite thing is that it is rewarding on multiple fronts: there is the positive feeling that comes from giving something back to the communities we live and work in and from hopefully inspiring at least some of the next generation and showing them that STEM can be fun! There is also the chance to learn and try out new skills myself through helping to develop the various activities that we have put together to support the STEM engagements.”
We celebrate our STEM Ambassadors today in recognition of International Volunteer Day, and we are excited to see what events come up in the new year!