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Aberdeenshire students challenged by TechFest to share ideas about future of science

By Kyle Ritchie

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TechFest is challenging Aberdeenshire students to compete against other young people across the world in STEM Next, an essay competition that encourages entrants to discuss the future of the industries across energy, medicine and science.

TechFest is a charity focused on making STEM education more engaging and inclusive in schools throughout the country whilst helping to connect STEM to various sectors.

STEM Next is a collaboration with various partners including: Airswift, CNOOC International, Ocean Winds and Thistle Wind Partners.

TechFest is encouraging Aberdeenshire students aged between 16-18 to participate in its global essay competition, STEM Next.
TechFest is encouraging Aberdeenshire students aged between 16-18 to participate in its global essay competition, STEM Next.

The competition is a solo digital project that requires independent research and writing, and is open to students aged 16-18 across the world.

Entrants are invited to submit an essay between 1000-3000 words that addresses one of the provided essay questions, with three categories available: Energy in Action, Medicine and Life Sciences and Chemistry and Biological Sciences.

In addition to developing their researching and writing skills, STEM Next also connects young people with industry professionals to learn first-hand about their chosen industry.

TechFest will make introductions that will provide entrants with valuable career insight alongside shaping their interviewing skills as part of the research requirements.

Sarah Chew, managing director of TechFest, said: “STEM Next is a challenge grounded in STEM that has been developed in collaboration with industry and education to deliver the future workforce.

“The competition’s interviewing aspect provides industry with a great opportunity to connect with young people and attract the best and brightest talent who will be the next generation of industry leaders.”

The Aberdeen-based charity is still looking for industry professionals to volunteer their time for these interviews and is calling for anyone with expertise or work experience in Energy, Life Sciences, Medicine, Chemistry, Psychology, Neuroscience, Space Science or Biological Sciences.

Sarah added: "We are still keen for anyone who has the time to engage with these young people to sign-up as these early industry relationships can help forge a spark that will inspire a new wave of problem solvers and decision makers in STEM.“

Ruth Cameron, managed services director EMEA at Airswift, said: “STEM Next is creating the next skilled workforce that will help to solve current and future problems across industries.

“This partnership perfectly ties into one our objectives at Airswift of transforming lives through the provision of international workforce solutions for STEM industries.”

Victoria Allan, Buzzard Onshore mechanical support engineer at CNOOC, said: “At CNOOC, we are focused on delivering safe and sustainable energy for all.

“As we see this shift being adopted across the energy industry, we need bold and practical ideas from young people during this vital transition period and look forward to seeing the world’s best ideas from this year’s entrants.”

Roger McMichael, stakeholder manager at Ocean Winds, said: “Ocean Winds is leading the global energy transition into a greener future, and we believe there is no better insight into this challenge than from the fresh perspective of young people.”

Kirsty Macaulay, stakeholder engagement manager at Thistle Wind Partners, said: “As an Edinburgh-based organisation focused on offshore wind development, we are excited to see a range of thought-provoking ideas from Scottish young people.

“Our nation has a strong heritage for innovation and shaping the modern world.”

Young people competing in the STEM Next competition are eligible for CREST Awards. It also provides an opportunity for students to add additional achievements to their UCAS application.

Moreover, the first place winners in each category will be awarded £200 of Amazon vouchers. Second place winners in each category will be awarded £100 of Amazon vouchers, and third place winners in each category will be awarded £50 worth of Amazon vouchers.

The deadline to register interest for STEM Next 2024 is June 21, with the project launching on June 17.

Students and volunteers can register for STEM Next via the TechFest website https://techfest.org.uk/education/ages-over-11/stem-next-essay where more information can also be found.

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