After a career lifetime in gas turbine engine design with Rolls-Royce, I took early retirement in 2003. Within weeks, I was invited to return part-time, which I did for another three years.
Towards the end of my career at R-R, I had become involved in design-and-make activities with newly-recruited graduate trainees. I also acted as a mentor for Year 12 students participating in the Engineering Education Scheme (EES), a STEM activity organised by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), having also been engaged in other outreach activities with local schools.
In retirement, I became an active member of the Institution of Engineering Designers, as a member of the Institution's Membership Committee, with the objective of promoting my profession and encouraging aspiring young engineers to become professionally registered. However, I had to withdraw from any active involvement in 2006, as I found myself acting as my wife's carer during the last eighteen months of her life.
I returned to my previous involvement with the Institution in 2008 and, in that year, I became aware of the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project, which was based locally. As a result, I became a member of the project's supporters' club and and an active volunteer at open days. I also became aware that the project was recruiting Bloodhound Ambassadors to support its STEM objectives. In 2009, I was inducted as a BH Ambassador, which required me to become an accredited STEM Ambassador. I saw my role as a BH and STEM Ambassador as an extension of my previous activity, and a way from promoting a career in engineering to young people.
At a STEM event in 2009, I found myself in conversation with a representative of EDT and was recruited to become an assessor for the EES, which I did for several years. As a result of my active involvement with Bloodhound as a BH Ambassador, I was named as regional STEM Ambassador of the year in 2016.
As a BH and STEM Ambassador my primary interest has been in supporting and providing practical 'hands-on' activities for young people. I have assisted in taking Bloodhound's model rocket car activity into schools on numerous occasions. As a STEM Ambassador, I have also taken my own balloon-powered car, compressed air powered rocket and water-powered rocket activities into schools and colleges on several occasions. I have also frequently volunteered to support similar practical STEM activities organised by others.
All such activities were, of course, curtailed by the pandemic and the lockdown in early 2020. However, during the past year, I have taken the opportunity to engage in online training courses and have recently delivered online activities with local primary schools. With the easing of the lockdown, I intend to return to in-school activities.