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MAK STEM Fest: Celebrating Successful Engagement with Future STEM talent


Over 140 students from high schools in Campbeltown, Lochgilphead and Tarbert have taken part in MAK STEM Fest – a dynamic daytime careers event in Campbeltown that connected STEM-related employers in the area with budding engineers and scientists.

Students at MAK STEM learn about ways to get involved in STEM careers with help from ScottishPowerRenewables Machairwind team

Hosted at Machrihanish Airbase Community Company Business Park by ALIenergy, with support from ScottishPower Renewables, MAK STEM Fest gave pupils the chance to learn about the range of STEM careers available to them in the region. Pupils participated in workshops and interactive displays from exhibitors including ScottishPower Renewables, Discover Space UK, Forestry & Land Scotland and Royal Navy.

As the energy agency for Argyll and Bute, ALIenergy works across multiple project areas to promote the sustainable use of energy. The team works with the support of funding from ScottishPower Renewables Beinn an Tuirc 2 windfarm to deliver activities to young people and communities in Mid Argyll and Kintyre to increase awareness about opportunities relating to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects, with MAK STEM Fest a highlight in the calendar.

Students explored the types of robots The Scottish Association for Marine Science uses in various projects around the world. Erin McCrae from Tarbert Academy, said: “We designed robots to go in the ocean. It was fun to do; I’d never thought of robots in the sea before. I’d recommend other students to do this in the future.”

They used modern satellite imagery with the Discover Space UK team to see how land, crops and special environments can be managed carefully into the future, and put their computer coding skills to use to programme robots with the digital education team from Argyll and Bute Council.

And The Marine Environmental Research Laboratory helped the students see how STEM knowledge and skills help the aquaculture industry in the modern world as well as helping the students understand some of the wonderful biology under the sea.

Organised in collaboration with Argyll & Bute Council’s Developing the Young Workforce, the event opened to the wider community later in the day to allow S3-S6 students, school leavers and other members of the community to explore the marketplace and speak with employers.

Representatives from ScottishPower Renewables’ MachairWind project team – who are developing an offshore windfarm northwest of Islay and west of Colonsay that could produce enough green electricity to power more than two million homes – were on hand to answer questions from the students.

Dr Lynda Mitchell, CEO of ALIenergy said, “The event really brought to life the incredible range of exciting opportunities there are for STEM-related career choices here in Argyll & Bute. It’s such an amazing place to live and work.”

Deborah Bryce, MachairWind Community Engagement Manager, said: “It was great to get the chance to talk to the students about MachairWind and how that will bring more clean energy to the grid and help support the green workforce of the future.”

Siobhan JarvieSPR’s Stakeholder & Community Manager, said, "MAK STEM Fest has been a great success and not only emphasises ScottishPower Renewables' commitment to nurturing future STEM talent but also reinforces our dedication to the communities we serve.”

Suzanne Thomson, DYW Coordinator for Campbeltown, Islay & Tarbert said, “We were delighted to collaborate with ALIenergy and SPR for MAK STEM Fest. Events like this are really important in giving our young people insight into the skills, pathways and qualifications needed to succeed in future STEM careers.

Students at MAK STEM learn about ways to get involved in STEM careers with help from ScottishPowerRenewables Machairwind team