Kate Drury, SELA Cohort 2016
As the elected Outreach Coordinator, I was responsible for the Outreach Project, which aims to make engineering accessible to everyone. We achieve this by working in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering, Sheffield Volunteering, local schools and the general public.
We deliver activities at different events at schools, across campus and across the city throughout the year. These activities are targeted to get young people excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
As the project coordinator, I was responsible for recruiting and training volunteers, designing and delivering workshops, organising events and managing the project’s budget and resources. After taking the lead on the project, I increased the number of registered volunteers from 5 to almost 50. This enabled me to increase the reach of the project and I am incredibly proud to say that we engaged with over 1500 children and young people across the city of Sheffield between September 2016 and April 2017.
Leading the project has not been without its challenges. The most significant challenge has been time management. The project demanded a lot of my time, not only delivering the sessions, but also in doing the essential behind the scenes work such as planning, preparation and writing risk assessments. Trying to balance this with my University work and other commitments could be a struggle and quite stressful. The SELA skills workshops I attended this year were really useful for learning skills such as time management, goal setting and reflection. I was able to take these new skills and directly apply them to leading the Outreach Project, making the experience more efficient, more enjoyable and less stressful!
It has been extremely rewarding to be a part of this project. It is enjoyable and motivating to see children being inspired about the possibilities of science and engineering. Furthermore, the volunteers and I have all gained experience, skills and heaps of confidence. It is always a great feeling to have hard work recognised, so I was delighted to be awarded the Community Impact Award at the Sheffield Volunteering Awards 2017 and shortlisted for the "Best Student Led Academic Event or Activity Award” at the Academic Awards 2017.
The Presentation Skills workshop at the SELA Bootcamp in September was invaluable for giving me the confidence to stand up and talk in front of people. Without this, I would not have been able to recruit so many volunteers and the project would not have been such a success. By delivering regular workshops to diverse audiences, I have practiced and improved my presenting skills. I am now confident that I can engage a room full of people and I now enjoy public speaking – something that would have filled me with dread a year ago!
I am incredibly proud of the impact we are have made on our Sheffield Community. Even if young people are not going to be the engineers or scientists of the future, they still deserve to know about the opportunities available to them in order to make informed decisions. I also believe it is vital for the next generation to learn about sustainability, as they can grow up with open minds, new ideas and make a real difference. The young people we have engaged with this year are now more aware of the opportunities available to them. And hopefully we have inspired the next generation of globally responsible citizens and engineers along the way!