15 November 2018
Female engineer Abbie Hutty, who is currently working for Airbus on the European Space Agency’s project to send a rover to Mars in 2020, talked to Year 5 girls St Mary’s Junior School, Cambridge about her mission, and inspired the girls to aim for the stars (and Mars!) themselves.
The girls were amazed by the project’s aim of finding out if there is life on Mars, and by the logistics of ensuring that the rover is not contaminated by bacteria or fungi before its mission. Abbie explained the design of the rover, as well as the logistics of its entry, descent and landing on Mars.
Abbie stressed the importance of balancing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with creative subjects. At A Level she studied Maths and Physics, but also Design and Technology and French, before going on to study Mechanical Engineering at university.
As well having a dedicated STEM Co-ordinator who works with each year group for one afternoon a week on a specific STEM-related topic, the girls at St Mary’s Junior School have attended assemblies on Artificial Intelligence with Dr Cave and Dr Dihal from the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, as well as with Dr Purves from Google DeepMind. Year 5 have also recently learnt about app design and experienced virtual reality in workshops with global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and in September Year 6 opened the Her Story exhibition at the Women in Computing Festival.
Abbie said: “I really enjoyed coming in and talking to the girls at St Mary’s. They asked brilliant questions. I hope that some will come to work in science and engineering in the future!”
Ms Edie Stuart, a Year 5 teacher at St Mary’s Junior School, Cambridge, commented: “It was wonderful to hear first-hand from someone involved in space exploration, and particularly from a female role model in STEM.”