North East youngsters enjoy festival STEM learning

12.07.2017

School children from North East schools have been soaking up the festival atmosphere as part of an unique event.

A special STEM Fayre – giving young people a chance to enjoy hands-on science, technology, engineering and maths-based learning – is taking place this week as part of Northumbrian Water’s NWG Innovation Festival.

The festival is bringing major national and global businesses together with universities, schools and members of the public to look at a wide range of social and environmental challenges.

As part of the week, headline sponsor Reece Innovation and the Centre For Life are running a special STEM Fayre, for younger children, giving them a chance to find out more about STEM subjects and how their practical application has fuelled creativity and inventions.

Earlier this year, Northumbrian Water Group helped to launch the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, alongside more than 20 other organisations, with the aim of bringing more than 220,000 new recruits into the sector by 2027.

The partnership aims to improve awareness of career opportunities within the industry among people of all ages and the STEM Fayre helps to start that message at an early age.

The NWG Innovation Festival aims to bring together the best innovative minds, using design ‘sprint’ thinking to explore and create new solutions to some of the biggest social and environmental challenges we face.

Teenagers from around the North East are also getting involved in the week’s sprints, adding their own ideas and experience to the mix of industry, academia and customers that will be at the festival.

The week, which runs until Friday, July 14 at Newcastle Racecourse, is supported by headline sponsors including IBM, Microsoft, CGI, Reece Innovation, BT and Ordnance Survey, who will lead the search for innovation to address issues including flooding, leakage and infrastructure.

Reece Innovation, the Tyneside-based specialists in innovation in engineering, are leading the sprint aimed at finding ways to upgrade infrastructure for the 21st Century at the festival.

Chris Pywell, Director, Reece Innovation, said: “As well as dedicating a week to tackling some very serious social and environmental issues, the NWG Innovation Festival aims to inspire young people about the possibilities of careers that involve STEM skills. The STEM Fayre is a fantastic way of doing this and ensuring the children have a lot of fun in the process.

“It’s fantastic to be working with partners such as Northumbrian Water and the Centre For Life on such an ambitious Innovation Festival that we hope will result in many benefits for people across the North East and beyond.”

Nigel Watson, Northumbrian Water’s Group Director of Innovation Services, said: “It’s been fantastic to welcome the children of the North East into the festival. We are tackling some very important issues in our sprints this week, but the future workforce needs of the energy and utilities industry is as vital as any, so we need to enthuse young people about STEM subjects from an early age.

“We’re grateful to all of our headline sponsors for their support and it is fantastic to see Reece Innovation taking on the additional role of facilitating the schools challenge, as well as leading one of the week’s sprints.

“Our industry requires more than 200,000 new recruits in the next 10 years and we hope that through activities such as this we can inspire the next generation of entrants into the energy and utilities sector.”

The big questions under consideration during the Festival’s ‘sprints’ are:
• ‘Rain, Hail or Shine’:
How can we reduce flooding? Led by headline sponsor IBM
‘Keep It Flowing’: What do we know about leakage from water pipes and how can we fix it? Led by NWG
‘Preparing for the Future’: How do we upgrade our infrastructure for the 21st Century effectively and affordably? Led by headline sponsor Reece Innovation
‘Tomorrow’s World’: What will living and working look like in 2030? Led by headline sponsor CG
‘How Green is Your City?’: What can businesses do to improve the environment in the North East? Led by headline sponsor Ordnance Survey
‘21st Century Reach’: How can we optimise a mobile workforce for a complex network business? Led by headline sponsor BT

The NWG Innovation Festival is also being delivered in association with Newcastle University, Durham University, Genesys, Interserve in partnership with Amec Foster Wheeler, Costain Resources, PC1, Tech Mahindra, Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB), Wipro, Virgin Media Business, Schneider, Wheatley Solutions, Sopra Steria, Accenture, 1Spatial, Infosys, Unify, ITPS, Esh-MWH, and Pen Test Partners.

People can find out more about what’s taking place at the NWG Innovation Festival, and how they can get involved at https://innovationfestival.org/.

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