NASA astronauts return to Strathclyde’s Space School

NASA astronauts William McArthur (an honorary graduate of Strathclyde) and Bob Cenkar at the Scottish Space School

One hundred Scottish pupils will come face-to-face with NASA astronauts and engineers when they land at the University of Strathclyde this week to attend the 13th annual Scottish Space School.

The 100 S5 Scottish school pupils are participating in the week-long residential event, aimed at inspiring young people to consider careers in engineering.

With applications from 533 pupils from secondary schools from every local authority in Scotland, the programme has received more applications than ever before, with pupils taking the unique opportunity to learn more about engineering and its different disciplines.

Marianne Ballantyne, Faculty Officer (Engagement and Outreach) for the University’s Faculty of Engineering, said: “The Space School reaches out to motivated and talented pupils across Scotland and provides them with the opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of careers within the space and engineering sectors, many for the first time.

Our aim is to inspire young people to consider engineering as a realistic career path, whether in Scotland’s burgeoning space sector, or within another many of the other which rely heavily on highly-trained engineers.”

According to the ‘2017 Engineering UK: the state of engineering report’, the UK is currently estimated to be short of around 20,000 graduate engineers annually.

Building rockets

The UK’s space industry alone generates a total annual turnover of more than £11 billion, while around 18% of the UK’s space sector employment – the equivalent of around 7,000 jobs – is now based in Scotland.

Throughout the week, the pupils will meet the inspiring individuals from NASA which include two astronauts, Bob Cenkar and William McArthur, an honorary graduate of Strathclyde, as well as engineers Lee Graham and another Strathclyde honorary graduate, Heather Paul. They will talk about their experiences working for the American space agency, which includes commanding expeditions to space, space walks and deploying satellites.

The pupils will also take part in a range of activities throughout the week such as building rockets and launching them into the air at Bellahouston Park, designing a load-bearing space structure and driving a Mars Rover vehicle.

The NASA guests will also meet with a further 400 school pupils as they visit two Glasgow schools and attend the Glasgow Science Centre for an outreach event for more than 400 primary school pupils. They will also take part in a public lecture at the University’s Technology and Innovation Centre on the evening of Wednesday 14 June.

Annabel Dalgleish, Marketing Outreach Coordinator for the Faculty of Engineering commented: “We’re thrilled to welcome back the NASA team to the campus and hear about their experiences, not only at our Space School but the outreach programmes for primary schools too. Their stories are outstanding and extraordinary, and demonstrate that these goals are achievable with hard work and dedication.”

At the end of the programme, 10 Space School pupils will be chosen to go on a once in a lifetime trip to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The Scottish Space School is one of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Strathclyde's most successful outreach programmes since its launch in 2004. It has been attended by more than 1,700 secondary pupils, more than half of whom have gone on to work in engineering, science and technology.

Read more on the Scottish Space School website.