Heathrow attracts students to engineering careers

London Heathrow airport will send 18 of its own engineers into local secondary schools to give students practical advice on engineering challenges.

A half-day event, this year’s ‘Secondary School Challenge’ will see children learning to build a mini version of the Terminal 5 Track Transit System (TTS) – the driverless electric train that shuttles passengers to satellite terminals. The team will visit 14 local schools over a three week period from March 28, with around 1,780 pupils expected to take part.

Jeremy King, chartered civil engineer and school activity provider, will teach students about basic electrical circuits and will challenge them to use a range of electronic controllers to program mini ‘trains’ to perform actions similar to the TTS.

The engineering apprentices at Heathrow will also participate in the programme, helping the pupils with the challenge while also offering them an insight into the various engineering careers available, along with the skills needed for the jobs.

Head of Heathrow’s engineering apprenticeship scheme, Kelly Stone, said: ‘There is a wide range of exciting engineering opportunities at Heathrow. We want to ensure the talented young people on our doorstep are aware of these careers and inspired to choose the right subjects needed to succeed in them. The aim of the challenge is to introduce pupils to engineering in a fun, interactive, relevant way which we hope will ignite an interest for studying STEM1 subjects in the future.’

Heathrow started the Secondary School Challenge seven years ago with the aim of building awareness of employment opportunities at Heathrow among local students. Whilst engineers are critical to the airport’s operations, they are in short supply. Encouraging young students to study STEM subjects is seen as the first step in reducing the current skills deficit in the UK.

The Secondary School Challenge complements Heathrow’s Primary School Challenge, aimed at year 6 pupils, where 10-year-olds build terminal models from newspaper.