Engineering masterclass programme in Hartlepool hailed as a huge success

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A review of last year’s series of engineering masterclasses found the events to be a success, with particular praise from female students taking part.

Hartlepool Borough Council bosses have evaluated the engineering masterclass series held by The Royal Institution in the town at the end of 2018.

The organisation has been running masterclasses in engineering, mathematics and computer science nationwide for many years and has held three past events in Hartlepool.

All six sessions were held in Hartlepool between October and November and ran from 10.00am until 12.30pm at either Centre for Excellence in Creative Arts (CECA) or Hart Biologicals.

The sessions featured an energy car challenge, mechanical gearing, electronics of prosthetics, blood clotting, bridge building and electronic circuits.

Student feedback found that 100% of the 16 pupils who took part enjoyed the series of workshops, while 100% of the female students who took part said they would consider working as an engineer.

In comparison 67% of males said they would consider the career following the course.

All five mainstream secondary schools in Hartlepool were invited to nominate gifted and talented Year 9 students to attend, with four schools taking part, compared to two in 2017.

Co-ordinated by Hartlepool Borough Council and delivered by local industry experts from Hart Biologicals, Newcastle University and EDF Energy, the sessions aimed to offer interactive, extracurricular sessions for young people aged 13 and 14.

A report from Sally Robinson, director of children’s and joint commissioning services at the council, praised the masterclasses and the skills they provided young people taking part.

It said:  “Analysis of the feedback data shows that all students involved enjoyed the sessions and a significant proportion of these students could see themselves working as an engineer in the future.

“An analysis by gender shows all female students have a very positive outcome.

“The sectors of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are one of the keys to the economic prosperity of Hartlepool and the Tees Valley in the next 10-15 years.

“Events such as this series raise the profile of these employment sectors and encourage young people to consider career pathways in these fields.”

The evaluation found students particularly enjoyed masterclasses when they were practical, such as the energy car challenge and tasks involving robotics.

All of the engineers reported they enjoyed carrying out the workshops and said they would be happy to return to deliver another masterclass.

The report will go before the council children’s services committee on Tuesday and councillors will also be asked to back the organisation of a further series for 2019.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service