TTP plc continues to inspire Cambridge LaunchPad Scholar students into STEM. The company, based on Melbourn Science Park, is supporting Cambridge LaunchPad for the second year running as Founding Partner. The aim of the STEM outreach initiative is to broaden the appeal of STEM subjects and careers for young people of all backgrounds and genders.
A survey conducted by STEM Learning last year revealed that the skills shortage is costing the STEM sector £1.5bn a year in the UK. The research involved business leaders from over 400 companies operating in STEM industries, many of which are struggling to recruit STEM staff with the skills they need.
TTP hosted the first Cambridge LaunchPad Scholars project day last year where students had the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a technology consultant. The students worked collaboratively to brainstorm, create and refine prototypes for an innovative syringe design to be used in fat-grafting reconstructive surgery.
Feedback from the students who attended - 82% of students were more likely to consider following a career in STEM after having participated in Cambridge LaunchPad; and 83% of students found the TTP project day engaging, commenting that they found the tasks fun, interesting working on a real-life problem and learnt a lot about the processes that go behind the design of a new instrument.
Joe Cary, Y13 student at Comberton Sixth Form secured a place at University of Oxford to read Physics and Philosophy. He said after participating at TTP’s project day last year: "The event exposed me to an exciting new world of the application of science in industry, and gave me the opportunity to work collaboratively with others who were equally interested in putting problem solving skills and scientific knowledge to good use."
Dr Abi Graham, experimental physicist at TTP designed the Cambridge LaunchPad project day at TTP, said: "As a tech employer, we have an opportunity and responsibility to make a difference to the way STEM is perceived amongst young people and our society, and challenge limiting preconceptions and stereotypes about who can pursue a STEM career. For this reason, it’s a privilege for us to contribute to the Cambridge LaunchPad initiative."
In her 11 years at TTP, Abi has led the development of a bioprinting technology which prints live cells and was lead scientist in developing a patent-pending low-cost microfluidic cartridge for DNA sequencing, sample preparation and PCR.
Abi believes that mentorship and opportunities like the Cambridge LaunchPad Scholars project day are crucial for encouraging students to pursue STEM careers.
"I always had a scientific sort of curiosity from a young age and was lucky to have parents who encouraged that interest – but I was also very lucky to have a school physics teacher who did a lot to encourage me and suggested that I should do physics at university. This is what I did - it was a good decision and shows the importance of the right sort of encouragement and mentorship for young people."
Cambridge LaunchPad are running up to 35 company project days in 2019. For more information, visit: www.cambridge-launchpad.com.