Engineers and scientists from organisations like McLaren F1, Airbus, the NHS, and Haleon, joined over 400 students for the first-ever Brooklands Innovation Academy. Part of the National Science Summer School programme, co-founded by Professor Brian Cox CBE and Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, the all-day event celebrated innovation, human endeavour, and entrepreneurship.
Held at Brooklands Museum on 29 November, the Brooklands Innovation Academy brought together more than 70 experts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) fields and highlighted the exciting opportunities and challenges in sectors ranging from MedTech and motorsport through to aerospace and robotics. It began with a warm and exciting welcome from Ruth Amos, inventor, and entrepreneur, discussing the drive for innovation and the diversity of opportunities within STEM fields. This was followed by a particularly special video keynote address from Professor Brian Cox, who gave an 18-minute talk, titled ‘The origins of the universe, cosmology, and black holes’.
The students were then divided into 40 groups of 10, each with a particular agenda for the day. With 20 different workshops and 10 guest speakers, it was a fantastic opportunity for many of the students to ‘learn by doing’ in an immersive environment. Each workshop was designed to give students a better understanding of working in a STEM field through first-hand experience, with all the requirements for problem-solving, teamwork, ingenuity, and tenacity. Engineers from McLaren F1 led a workshop about aerodynamic design and materials while the team from Bloodhound Education looked at the physics behind the 1,000mph land speed record car. The NHS and Bayer hosted workshops around careers in health, including a giant inflatable heart that students could climb through. Airbus discussed lunar moon landers and aircraft design while Brooklands College got students to conduct a race car pitstop and solve a simulated forensic crime scene investigation.
A number of guest speakers entertained and informed students, including World Land Speed Record holder Andy Green OBE and Kirsty Murphy MBE, the first female Red Arrow pilot. The day also provided students with an opportunity to learn more about the rich history of Brooklands within aviation and motor racing, understanding innovations of the past while actively learning about the challenges and technologies of today.
The National Science Summer School programme was co-founded by Professor Brian Cox CBE and Lord Andrew Mawson OBE with and is managed by Well North Enterprises. Brooklands Innovation Academy was delivered in close partnership with the Bourne Education Trust, including a teacher seconded to the Museum for a year, and supported by many leading businesses and donors. It would not have been possible without the valuable assistance of Surrey County Council, the NHS, the NW Surrey Alliance and Brooklands Museum’s partnership with Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital, as well as support from Haleon, who are the lead sponsor and whose early investment enabled the Innovation Academy to get off the ground.
Professor Brian Cox CBE, Co-founder of Science Summer School said:
“It is a fantastic achievement to have presented this first Brooklands Innovation Academy, especially given recent and current challenges. I congratulate Brooklands Museum, Well North Enterprises, as well as the many project V1.6 partners and people for making it a reality. They believe, as do I, that there is a wealth of young talent here in the UK who, given the right inspiration and support, will become the STEM innovators of tomorrow. We need more scientists and engineers in the UK and Brooklands Innovation Academy is an important step in the right direction. 2022 has been a brilliant launch now let’s bring on 2023.”
Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, Chair – Well North Enterprises and Co-founder of Science Summer School said: “Professor Cox and I started this project in an east London secondary school in 2012. What had been a failing school in a dysfunctional community was rebuilt with a fantastic new headteacher and staff with placing STEM subjects at the curriculum core. The result was happy and successful students and proud parents. This new school was also at the centre of a programme to transform the local area. It was driven by a new local partnership between education, business, health, and the community which Well North calls an ‘Innovation Platform’. We have started to share this model nationally with Science Summer School placed front and centre. We now have events running in South Yorkshire and Northern Ireland as well as in London, and now our inaugural event, which has just been completed so successfully here at Brooklands Museum.
“Our practical aim is to help connect the career pipeline between young people and the myriad of training and work opportunities across education, health, and business available within local communities. We believe this is the best way to create an enthusiastic workforce equipped with the right skills to help drive the UK forward which, in turn, makes this a better place for all to live. We know that knowledge is power, and this first Brooklands Innovation Academy has ticked all the right boxes in practical, not paper, terms. We look forward to starting work with our brilliant partners as soon as possible on next year’s event.”
Tamalie Newbery, Director and CEO, Brooklands Museum, said:
“Our first-ever Brooklands Innovation Academy was an enormous success! The team did a fantastic job in bringing together industry personalities, companies, and educational organisations to provide a comprehensive and entertaining experience. It was non-stop action and engagement for the students, which was wonderful to see. We established the Brooklands Innovation Academy to inspire an entirely new generation of innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers. Judging from their smiles and curiosity, I believe we have achieved just that.
“It has been a privilege to work with Professor Brian Cox and Lord Andrew Mawson’s National Science Summer School programme. It has enabled us to provide young students across Surrey with an opportunity to meet engineers and scientists from diverse backgrounds working in many interesting fields. The hands-on element of the programme gave many students new confidence and understanding of these leading-edge sectors and a new mindset around innovation.
“A huge thanks to the supporters and sponsors, it was so inspiring to see business leaders and companies working together to make this a reality. Together, we are fostering the engineers and scientists of tomorrow, helping humanity tackle the climate crisis and a myriad of other challenges in its quest to build a better future. We are very much looking forward to building upon this year’s success with more Brooklands Innovation Academy events in 2023 and beyond.”