Ministerial prize-giving marks national HE STEM programme success

The Wales Celebration Event for the National HE STEM Programme will take place on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in Cardiff Bay.The National HE STEM Programme supports higher education institutions in the exploration of new approaches to recruiting students and delivering programmes of study within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

The Programme is hosted centrally by the University of Birmingham and delivers its activities regionally through Universities in England and Wales, with the Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (WIMCS) as the partner in Wales. 

Following a series of presentations in the Wales Millennium Centre from 13:30 – 16:45, a reception and exhibition will take place at the Senedd from 17:30 – 19:00.  

The reception is sponsored by David Rees AM and hosted by Professor Richard B Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, on behalf of the Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences.

There will be a short address on Higher Education and STEM by Edwina Hart AM, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.  After this Ms Hart will present prizes to the winners of the Wales HE STEM Cutting Edge Research Poster Competition.

Ms Hart said: "I am delighted to see the innovative work being undertaken in Wales by higher education institutions in promoting and delivering programmes of study within the STEM subjects.

"The Welsh Government’s new science strategy ‘Science for Wales - a strategic agenda for science and innovation in Wales’ highlighted the need to build a strong and dynamic science base that supports the economic and national development of Wales.

"We need people with advanced skills in these disciplines to help drive forward the knowledge economy in Wales and ensure businesses can recruit high calibre staff to remain competitive, create jobs and wealth. I am therefore delighted to participate in the Wales Celebration Event for the National HE STEM Programme."

The prizes are in the form of contributions to departmental research funds ranging from £1,000 for the winner to £100 for highly commended.

STEM awards

First prize is being awarded to Leanne Smith, Cardiff University, poster title: Modelling Ambulance Location and Deployment (Mathematics).  Second prize goes to Huw Waters, Bangor University, poster title: New polymers and oligomers for printing of next generation solar cells (Engineering).  Third prize is being awarded to Owen Wyn Roberts, Aberystwyth University, poster title: Turbulence in space plasmas and why we should care! (Physics). 

Two posters are highly commended: Mr Hefin Dafydd, Swansea University, Poster title: Finding Fingerprints on Metals (Engineering); and, Rubén Sevilla, Swansea University, Poster title: Towards the next generation of computational engineering software (Engineering).

The exhibition will comprise of stands and information on the four main themes for HE STEM in Wales: student transition, graduate skills, up skilling the workforce, and working with employers. 

In addition each of the Professional Body partners in the National HE STEM Programme – the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, will have stands. 

The posters from the STEM Cutting Edge Research Competition will also be displayed together with information on STEM initiatives in Wales supported by the universities.

The afternoon event at the Wales Millennium Centre will see the launch of a new publication Embedded employability: A guide to enhancing the university curriculum  by Professor Noel Lloyd, former Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, and Dr Robert Leese, Director of the Industrial Mathematics Knowledge Transfer Network.

Professor Phil Gummett, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: “We have been immensely proud to have been able to support the National HE STEM programme. It’s been excellent to see all the universities in Wales that offer STEM courses get together to run collaboratively more than 80 projects, which students from all backgrounds have benefited from. I am very pleased to be part of the event that celebrates how those who work in Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics and Physics education have engaged to deliver activities that promote the value of STEM subjects, boost recruitment and upskill the workforce.”

There will also be a series of presentations on the four main themes:

Student transition

  • Theme overview by Duncan Lawson, Director (Coventry University), Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Statistics Support SIGMA
  • Strategic regional working with schools and colleges – Kath Maddy and Laura Roberts, First Campus, Reaching Wider South East Wales

Graduate skills:

  • Theme overview by Jane Artess, Director of Research, Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU)
  • Embedding employability in the student experience of STEM undergraduates: a Placement Toolkit for STEM Schools – Leslie Rees, Director, and Julian Blanch, Employer Liaison Manager, Cardiff University Careers and Employability Services

Up skilling the workforce:

  • Theme overview by Martin Brunnock, Technical Director, Tata Steel
  • User-driven Photonics Skills Improvement via Life-long Learning (UPSKILL) – Alan Shore, Professor of Electronic Engineering, Bangor University

Higher education working with employers:

South East Wales Employer Forum – Peter Treadwell, Director of Treadwell Consulting, former Dean, Academic Development, Cardiff Metropolitan University.