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Engaging with the STEM communities in Scotland and Northern Ireland

12 Dec 2018

Communications Manager Nick Hall on CaSE’s recent visits to Edinburgh and Belfast.

Science and the Parliament 2018

Education and skills were the main focus of this year’s Science and the Parliament, held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh last month, which CaSE attended.

The conference speakers stressed the importance of Scotland continuing to be a great place for science and how STEM is a ‘positive choice’ for Scotland’s young people in a fast-moving world, where many of the jobs of the future have yet to be invented. Many of the day’s speeches addressed what action can be taken to reach the Scottish government’s education strategy, including building a capacity for excellence, allowing for inspiration and accessibility for Scotland’s great scientific offer, connecting STEM education with the labour market needs and ensuring diversity in STEM ‘in its widest sense’.

As well as looking ahead to inspire Scotland’s young people, Professor Sheila Rowan, the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, offered a look back through history to highlight the importance of women in STEM, sharing the inspiring experiences of Dr Elsie Inglis, Dr Elizabeth Ross and Dr Isabel Emslie, pioneering Scottish medics who volunteered at the Serbian Front during World War I. These Scottish women, who in addition to their humanitarian work were campaigners for women’s suffrage and founded a Women’s Hospital in Serbia, were discouraged from providing their medical expertise in the UK.

The conversations during the day ranged from the importance of fundamental research to accessing STEM education outside of Scotland’s central belt and the importance of international collaboration. Many of CaSE’s Scottish members were in attendance to highlight their priorities within education, skills and the free movement of people.

Earlier in the day CaSE visited the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

College of Science and Engineering, University of Edinburgh

Science and Stormont 2018

Earlier in the Autumn CaSE joined the science and engineering community in Northern Ireland for Science and Stormont, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

This year’s conference looked at the impact of Brexit on science, research and industry in Northern Ireland and was sponsored by Naomi Long MLA, Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s All-Party Group on Science and Technology, and Vice-Chairs, Dr Steve Aiken OBE MLA and Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA.

Stormont Assembly, Belfast

The attending delegates heard from representatives from learned and scientific societies and universities, including CaSE members Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast, on the protential effects of Brexit for the STEM landscape in Northern Ireland. The panels discussed priorities around securing associated collaborations and ensuring the easy movement of scientists and students across the United Kingdom, Europe and the world. The significance of Northern Ireland’s position in the Brexit negotiations and the opportunities and challenges that are at stake in the final outcome was clearly felt by all who attended.

Earlier in the day CaSE visited the Faculty of Physical Science and Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast and toured the new Computer Science Building.

Computer Science Building, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast