We are dedicated to helping enrich and nurture the engineering talent of the future and have an established STEM program that we run with primary schools across Bristol. Our talented engineers act as STEM ambassadors, to run interactive lessons that inspire children in a fun and meaningful way. Our aim is to show these engineers of the future how we can integrate STEM subjects into our everyday lives.
Inspiring future engineers
What is STEM?
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are fundamental to CFMS. Science is both the question and the answer to problems; technology enables us to challenge the world in a digital space; engineering enables innovation, while mathematics provides the formulas to help us overcome complex challenges.
In addition, CFMS works with South Bristol Youth, a consortium of seven schools, one community organisation and two universities within the local area, offering young people the opportunity to come and explore STEM within the real-world.
Through the programme, young people are given the chance to visit CFMS and take part in interactive sessions where they can learn how STEM subjects are used in engineering. Learn more about the programme here.
Our Stories: STEM in The Real World
Alex Ballisat, STEM Ambassador and Research Engineer at CFMS, talks about his experiences of learning STEM subjects in school and applying them in the real world.
During my time in school, maths and science were presented as abstract concepts with little application to the real world and even less overlap between the fields. Computing was not taught either and my lessons with computers were focussed on learning how to use office packages and search the internet. I had no idea that using computers to solve science and engineering problems was becoming increasingly common as more and more computing power became available to researchers.
In reality, all science and engineering blurs into one field which is fundamentally about using maths to make useful predictions. This is true at all scales,: from understanding the fundamental particles of the universe or gaining insight into how cells behave in our bodies; to building the infrastructure of everyday things such as cars, mobile phones and houses or unlocking the secrets of the cosmos. In all of these, computing is playing a key role in allowing researchers to solve problems and iterate designs faster.
The ability to have accurate representations of reality at your fingertips, without having to construct costly prototypes and experiments, is accelerating progress and we can now solve challenges which, only twenty years ago, seemed insurmountable.
At CFMS, we use computing to solve a wide range of challenges across many different sectors. Employees come from a mixture of disciplines: some have engineering backgrounds, others pure science degrees and some are also IT experts but we all have a solid foundation in maths.
The work is very varied – no two days are ever the same and there is always a new problem to solve or an idea to test out. This makes it a very rewarding career and, given the huge range of industries that STEM is used in, there will certainly be a field out there you will be passionate about, even if you haven’t found it yet. We want to expose students to this broad range of possibilities when they are in their formative years so they can keep their options open., Keeping up maths and science opens the door to many careers.
Looking back to my school days, I wish my eyes were opened up more to the world of possibilities available to me. Engineering was never really an industry that was talked about and, when it was, it was more mechanical or civil. This is one of the reasons why I became a STEM ambassador. I want to showcase the variety of industries that are related to STEM through interactive sessions that can inspire future engineers.
CFMS is working with South Bristol Youth and welcomes schools throughout the year to our facilities. As part of the charity’s Discover Maths programme, we are demonstrating how you can apply maths to the real-world, as well as allowing the students to try out some of our systems such as Virtual Reality.
I would strongly encourage anyone who has even a passing interest in science and technology to keep their options open. Keep going with maths and science through school as there is a whole world out there full of exciting and challenging problems to solve.
I would also recommend contacting engineering firms and exploring your interest further. Perhaps spend some time with them gaining some work experience – this will really help you understand where you want to be.