"The sky is not the limit" - Scottish Space School
The Scottish Space School started in 2002 as a programme to inspire the next generation to pursue STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) courses and careers. The Space School has had some key milestones over the last two years: In 2013, the 1000th student joined the program and in 2014 the Strathclyde University residential summer school reached its 10th anniversary. I was selected to attend as a student in 2008 for the Strathclyde University campus experience. I was really excited but still unsure about what my future career, admittedly leaning towards law at this point, might be. When I arrived on campus I was completely blown away by university life. Before I joined the Space School, the closest I had come to NASA Astronauts and engineers was watching Apollo 13 and now I was going to be in the same room as them! The programme had a full timetable of lectures, group activities and a project to be completed on our own time. From understanding about bacteria in low gravity environments to building your own rockets; the school barely left a spare moment. The astronaut Bill McArthur and NASA engineer Heather Paul also left a lasting impression.
Six years on and I am still hooked on engineering. Together with the staff and NASA guests, my eyes were opened to the challenges that engineers face and the ingenious solutions they develop. I wanted to be a part of that; I wanted to join that club. I think JFK summed up why many engineers tackle these challenges: “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Our group project for that year was to try and develop a new solution for energy problems. From that point on I’ve been interested in energy, eventually working in the nuclear industry for a year before joining Strathclyde University as an undergraduate. Since then I’ve continued as a Power Academy Scholar working for Atkins (an engineering consultancy) and working on energy projects around the world. For the last three years, I have mentored students at the Scottish Space School. It has really highlighted the impact that STEM and Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Ambassadors can have on showing what engineers do. As the Scottish Space School’s Motto says, “The Sky is NOT the limit”.
In this episode we speak to Dr Mark Schenk, an aerospace engineer whose childhood interest in origami led to innovative work developing foldable structures.Read more