STEM Ambassador Takes Volunteering To The Next Level

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Just over a year ago, STEM Ambassador Ed Chester, CEng MIET, decided to volunteer for the IET as a School Liaison Officer. He sees the role as an extension of his activities as an ambassador, enabling him to create even more opportunities for young people to learn about engineering.

School Liaison Officers (SLOs) are points of contact for schools, STEM organisations and local networks within regions in the UK. They help the educational community to deliver activities which promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to schoolchildren. 

Ed says there are a few activities within his remit: “I represent the IET at school and public-facing events. This involves having an IET stand and promoting opportunities in engineering, particularly the educational support that the IET provides to schools.” 

Another aspect of the role is supporting STEM organisations who want grant funding for education purposes. “I’ve helped with one grant application so far,” he says. “It was really interesting to see how the organisation put their ideas together for something innovative that they won’t otherwise be able to fund.” 

At the centre of STEM activities
Through these activities, Ed gains a better awareness of what’s going on in STEM and the IET, while also working on his Continuing Professional Development. For Ed though, the biggest incentive for volunteering is the enjoyment he gets from it. 

“The most rewarding part is when a young person asks an insightful question, which shows that you’ve helped them,” he says. “I just love that because you can see a brilliant mind in that person, one that wants to explore, come up with ideas and grow.” 

A role to make your own
In terms of the time involved, there are peaks and troughs. “It is what you make it though,” Ed says. “I know some SLOs who are extremely proactive, visiting schools and setting up meetings. But it can be low effort - the really important thing is to have somebody in your area who can be a contact point for a school if they want to engage with the Institution or ask a question.” 

If you’re interested, you’ll need to be a STEM Ambassador or willing to register with the STEM Ambassador programme. This, Ed indicates, is worthwhile, since the STEM Ambassador Network will manage induction training and extended DBS checks. 

“Try out the role,” he suggests. “Your contribution will be appreciated by schools, the IET and your colleagues.” 

More information on School Liaison Officers - and the areas where they are particularly needed – is available on our volunteering pages.
Interested in becoming an SLO? Please contact
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Posted by Kim Letchford on May 28, 2018 5:30 AM Europe/London

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This IET blog provides you with real life experiences of IET members from around the world.  Hopefully these case studies will help to provide insightful ways of how the IET can help you in your career.