Happold Foundation Chair Gavin Thompson talks about the Life on Mars STEM outrearch programme. The programme is aimed at school students, and looks at how engineers can build a base on Mars.
My kids are more or less grown up now but they still parrot back to me my regular exclamation ‘see that over there? Engineers did that!’ I haven’t managed to get any of my kids to follow me into engineering, but I am glad to say a number of the students I have met during school outreach days have gone on to become engineers, some helped by scholarships and internships provided by the Happold Foundation.
Talking to students about what you do demands some reflection. When you think about engineering the built environment, buildings and infrastructure – such as bridges, energy, transportation systems and so on – it becomes obvious that our skills cover many areas and are applied to a myriad of different problems. To find a way that allows engineers engaging with school students to make these challenges understandable, interesting and inspiring is an essential part of what we do.
Enter Happold Space Lines and the Life on Mars workshop!
The Happold Foundation is creating a workshop that can be run in schools by engineers, using an easily comprehensible problem to allow students to apply their STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) or STEAM (the A representing art) skills to engineering projects.
Considering how to establish a base on Mars immediately sets out a series of extreme challenges. In many ways these are the same challenges that engineers face here on Earth when designing buildings and cities, but on a bigger scale. How large does a base need to be? How can it be transported and erected? Where should it be sited?How self-contained can it be in terms of energy and food? What legacy does it wish to leave and how should the broader needs of occupant wellbeing be addressed? There are endless questions to be answered.
To help us explore these topics, four year 10 and year 12 students spent a week at BuroHappold’s Bath offices researching themes to help the Foundation prepare for a pilot workshop at a school in Bath in June this year. Their enthusiasm and energy were a great help to the project.
As part of the week, the Foundation arranged for the students to visit the Battersea Power Station site in London and the O2 Arena. During the trip the students climbed Up at the O2, a 52m walkway that goes over the top of the arena.
Below is an image of the students at Up at the O2, from left to right: Anna, Honor, Noé and Tim. We found that this is a great place to spot other BuroHappold projects across the skyline of London – you can almost hear me saying ‘engineers did that…and that…and that…!”
Big thanks to Brittany, Anna and Rodoula and the rest of the team from the Young Engineers community at BuroHappold Bath for organising the week.
If you would like to learn more about the Happold Foundation Life on Mars STEM Outreach Programme please contact Fergus Anderson Fergus.anderson@happoldfoundation