STEM @ Ulster
This Article appeared in UU Staff Publication - Inside, Jan 2010

Photographs  and a video (LEGO Mindstorms) taken during the programme can be found on these following pages.

Creating Opportunities 09/10

Local high school students are discovering what working and studying at Ulster involves, via a new work experience programme devised by Dr Richard Holmes, research fellow in the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC).
Dr Holmes has developed a programme consisting of traditional work shadowing and novel-learning activities, designed to introduce students to the concept of interdisciplinary research and development.


He explained:  “The purpose of the programme is to ensure work experience students are not simply left to fetch coffee and do the photocopying.  We wanted to use their time more productively, to encourage the students into research and engineering, whilst also adding momentum to the activities of the research centre.  In other words, it’s a win-win situation.”
Drawing on the expertise of colleagues within NIBEC and the School of Engineering – Mike Reford, Grame Craig and colleagues; Damian McDonald, technical services supervisor (research); and Dr Patrick Dunlop, research fellow; – pupils have had the opportunity to experience first-hand the daily activities that are part of a research-intensive environment.
Pupils from twelve secondary schools, across Northern Ireland, are involved in the project.  Some of the pupils joined NIBEC via the Sentinus science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scheme – which aims to promote and support the teaching and learning of STEM subjects.


Dr Holmes said: “As part of the University’s drive to encourage students to consider studying STEM subjects at Ulster, we want to introduce them to these subjects and get them excited about potential careers. Our programme gets the students involved with a number of interesting live research projects, such as the development of the Lab-on-a-Chip technology for biomedical engineering, Computer aided Design for systems fabrication and the use of the LEGO Mindstorms Robotics system to investigate the interactions between sensors, measurement and control systems and engineering.
“As a result of this unique work experience programme, we hope that the students will give consideration to studying or carrying out research here at Ulster.”