Engaging the Next Generation of Engineers

Engaging the Next Generation of Engineers

Two members of the SL Controls team, Chief Technology Officer Paul Clarke and Talent Acquisition & Onboarding Associate Aoife Burns, recently completed a 10-week STEAM teaching program with a class of primary school children from Strandhill National School.

STEAM is an organization that partners with companies like SL Controls to deliver fun and interactive classes to children on engineering, technology, science, and maths topics.

“The children in the class had some good understandings of the concepts we covered and talked about,” said Paul. “Kids today are very savvy with technology and can look information up so easily, so we were able to see how they were not just responding to what we were doing, but also investigating the topics for themselves. That was really brilliant to see.

“The mediums we presented the information through were presentations and practical exercises, but it was the practical element that the children really loved. For me, the combination of the presentation and the practical element really worked.

“And the children also had a good understanding of what engineering is and what engineers do. For example, some of them talked about the work their parents did and were able to explain the various types of engineering roles. It was great to see they were able to make the connection between what we were doing in the class and the work of their parents or relatives.”

Aoife said the open attitude and approach of the children was really positive. She said: “The kids were so enthusiastic, and they were not in any way afraid of asking questions. As we get older, we have a tendency to start thinking that some questions are stupid, so we stop asking them. But no questions are stupid, and it was refreshing to see the children in the class asking whatever they wanted.”

Aoife added that it was rewarding for her and Paul as well as being enjoyable for the children. She said: “I have never taught before, so it was nice to do something different. For me, the whole experience was great, and I found it very rewarding and fulfilling being able to make a positive impact on children. I have no doubt some of them will blossom into engineers at some stage in the future.”

Paul agreed. He said: “When we asked who wanted to be an engineer when they grow up, a load of them put their hands up. It was also great for Aoife and me as every day we arrived, big roars went up from the children because they were so enthusiastic.

“Also, for me, it was an interesting change from my professional role to take on an educational role. In my day-to-day when talking to my peers, the language can be very complex. Discussing engineering topics with children was a great grounding experience and I think it has made me better able to communicate what we do as a company to people who are non-technical. So, I think the kids got a lot from the experience, but I did too.”