Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Guildford Means Business!

SATRO are very much looking forward to exhibiting at the Guildford Means Business at GLive on 3rd June 2015.  We are very much looking forward to meeting other local companies and getting them involved with our innovative, challenging and hands on programmes design to inspire young people about their future careers.

Why there’s nothing better than a good physics demonstration! - Prof Neil Downie

Despite what many people think, science and engineering are often hugely creative endeavours – and a great way to draw out that creativity is to make and play with stuff.

Once you've redesigned or rebuilt something that already works, you become more confident in your abilities and start to get a real “feel” for stuff. You want to try new things and start to believe you can apply your theoretical knowledge too. That’s why novel projects, are so important.

Students can’t cheat by finding “the answer” on the Internet, in a textbook or from friends – and so are forced to think.  Teachers like these projects too as they encourage discussion and boost understanding. 

Take apart a photocopier, for example, and you’ll find lasers, sensors, scanners and steam-bubble ink-jet heads, as well as curious assemblies of mirrors and lenses, plus ingenious systems of rollers and catches to move paper around. And if the copier breaks down, perhaps you can actually fix it yourself. More likely, you can’t – but you can still have fun figuring out how it’s made and how it works!

- From an article written by Prof Neil Downie in Physics World magazine. 

Prof Neil Downie is head of the sensors group at Air Products, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK and is a Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Surrey. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

SATRO #STEMXAwards : Now Open For Applications!

Nominees and winners of 2014 Apprenticeship Awards
 with the 2014 High Sheriff Peter Lee
SATRO’s STEMX Awards are set to put Surrey’s talented young people centre stage.  Showcasing excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the awards will celebrate the excellent practice and opportunity which exist in the area and demonstrate what companies and young people are doing to reduce the skills shortages.

There is a fantastic heritage of innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Surrey and the South East. A wealth of large and small to medium enterprises make the region an innovation powerhouse contributing to economic growth and development. Finding and nurturing the skills needed to fuel this growth can be a challenge, especially in STEM subjects. SATRO and the STEMX Awards are playing their part to help meet this challenge.

There are six Awards and applications are invited from businesses and individuals :

STEM Apprentice:
     - Individual achievement
     - Contribution to business
     - Progression

- Best STEM School leaver training programme

- Award for Business for working with schools to support the development of STEM skills  

- Best contribution to business from students undertaking a STEM work placement 

SATRO’s STEMX Awards build on the success of its Apprenticeship and Scholars Awards. Working with Surrey Chambers of Commerce and EH Enterprises, this year’s initiative will be even bigger and better.  With three new categories and a amazing array of talent on show, the awards will be an inspiration to young people and employers alike.
SATRO Chief Executive, Dr Beccy Bowden said “SATRO’s STEMX Awards seek to show case the wealth of STEM opportunities in our area through the Awards which we hope will encourage more young people to study STEM subjects and make the most of the many opportunities that exist ”

The Awards Ceremony will take place on 29th September at the prestigious Living Planet Centre in Woking and the evening promises to be a fantastic celebration of science, engineering and innovation with opportunities to view examples of young people’s work in industry and listen to an inspirational speaker.

Details on each of the Award can be found on the SATRO website :!stemx-awards/c1mli

or by emailing . The closing date for applications is Monday 6th July, except for the Work Experience Award when the date is Friday 21st August.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Are Young Women Natural Hairdressers or Repressed Engineers? - Howard Railton, SATRO Trustee

Both women and men make excellent hairdressers and both women and men make outstanding engineers.  So why, when we imagine an Engineer, do we think of a man?  Both Sciences and Engineering in the UK are struggling to attract people into training and careers in their fields.  This is a critical issue for the UK, with growing numbers of technical jobs either being filled from outside the UK or the jobs themselves moving away.  One obvious reason for this problem is that we are only recruiting from half the potential talent pool. 

The number of girls doing A level Physics has not changed in the last thirty years and remains shamefully low.  The number of young women engaged in technical Apprenticeships is tiny; yet, the overall number of women in other Apprenticeships is higher than men.  The reasons for this are both simple and very complex.  Someone said that all children are Engineers at the age of eight and then we beat it out of them.  We seem to beat it out of the girls even more successfully.

Studying Science and the Natural World leads us to some of the most wonderful, dramatic, satisfying and interesting discoveries.   Stimulating children’s interest in the wonders of our world is intensely rewarding.  Being involved in the application of Science in Engineering and Technology is exciting and satisfying.  So why are we so poor at getting young women into Science and Engineering?  We need to change the way we see the future for girls and young women and offer them a better opportunity to learn and contribute to our future.  The young women in Engineering that I have met are talented, capable and bright.  They are valued for their ability and effort and rewarded accordingly.  Engineering is neither dirty, oil stained nor physically hard work.  In this age of financial austerity, it is well paid.  So let us encourage parents and teachers to be open minded about the future of their children and to positively encourage them to understand and marvel at the wonders of the world around us.  

- Howard Railton, SATRO Trustee

Thursday, 14 May 2015


We are delighted to have been chosen by recently appointed Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Nikki Nelson-Smith.

Nikki’s vision for her Mayoral Year is “Inspiring Guildford’s Future Innovators”; she believes that young people should be encouraged, inspired and motivated to be the best that they can be; they should be better informed about the career choices available and increase their knowledge of the amazing career opportunities here on their doorstep in Guildford.  The Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith commented, “We are lucky to have so many world-class innovative companies in the Borough who are looking for bright and creative employees”.

Dr Beccy Bowden, CEO of SATRO said “We are honoured that Cllr Nelson-Smith has chosen SATRO to partner with to deliver her vision for young people in Guildford who are inspired by local career opportunities. We have a fantastic heritage of innovation in the town and we know that many of our companies are struggling to recruit people with key skills - I hope that our work this year will ensure that even more world class breakthroughs and developments happen here in the future.”

Over the past 30 years SATRO has worked with over 450,000 young people in Guildford and indeed across Surrey inspiring and enthusing them about science, technology, engineering and maths by linking businesses and young people together through their varied, innovative range of challenging hands on programmes.  Nikki intends to support and inspire creativity in the young people of Guildford whether they be artists, technologists or scientists and to help them to aspire to their dream careers.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Science, Engineering and Getting a Feel for Stuff: essential lessons for the nation - Prof Neil A Downie MA PhD

SATRO is privileged to work with nearly 1,000 volunteers from all areas of the working world, including many hundreds of scientists and engineers, one of our regular supporters has given us his views on what today’s candidates of all parties, should be thinking about, do tell us what you think...

The shortage of a thousand GPs in the next five years is a serious problem that has been well covered in the media.  What isn’t covered in the media is much, much more serious; it is a slow motion disaster, nearly a thousand times more serious than the shortage of doctors.  It is the million or more shortfall expected in scientists, professional engineers and technicians in the next five years.  

We need  a million people with a ‘feel for stuff’, people who have almost unconscious feel for the real physical world, a  feel for what will work and what won’t.  Recently, I interviewed 20 people for a job and rejected nearly all of them because they simply didn’t have that practical feel.  They had the qualifications, the personal qualities, and they wanted to do the job.  However, they wouldn’t have the confidence to design something that was new, that was a little different from what had gone before. 

Too many young people are missing out on getting hands-on with practical things related to science and engineering at an age when abilities are naturally absorbed.  Between the ages of 10 and 18, roughly, if someone has the chance to make things, to do practical tests and experiments, to see how things work by taking them apart, the chance to design something new and improved perhaps, then they will get that magical  ‘feel for stuff’.  This practical work will complement their academic studies.  If you use something you have learned, or learn about something you have used, then you will remember it.  And, what is more, remember it in a way that that means that you will never forget it, and in a way that you will be able to use it.

I tried out sending coded messages with a group of primary school children last week.  They learnt some great practical stuff about sending messages down wires and the hardware to do that (it involved calculators: what I call a ‘Calculator Communicator’).  Meanwhile a whole lesson in Maths, English and the alphabet was being sneaked past them as they wrote down and coded, transmitted and decoded messages.

So let’s have a campaign for parents, for teachers, for students: it is vital that they understand this issue and how it affects them.  Let’s have a campaign to train our primary teachers: no primary school should be left without a teacher with the ability to do practical science, to make things and show kids how to make things, to show them how things work.   And let’s have a campaign to put science and engineering firmly on the agenda  - and the curriculum - of all schools. 

We need to get our youngsters busy with saw and soldering iron, taking apart broken Hoovers and printers, and busy making things.  Those things may or not work well as hardware, but will in either case teach our children lessons essential for them and for the nation. 

- Prof Neil A Downie MA PhD

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


The time of year has arrived - students will be poring over their books, trying to ensure that they are prepared for their exams. We have compiled a list of our top revision tips to help you make the most of your revision time...

Create a timetable
Agree and stick to a routine/timetable for revising. Getting revision done during a specific interval each day will encourage you to become more organised and motivated, knowing that you have a goal to adhere to each day. 

Set goals
Set and write down all your goals - what would you like to achieve from revising? Try to be realistic, focussing on 4 or 5 key areas you wish to study or that you know need improvement. Making a list will help you to keep focused, ticking the items off your list will be satisfying too!

Manage tasks effectively
Manage tasks by making them:

  • Specific - do past papers of the exam you are revising for.
  • Measurable - success in completion of a specific task is easy to measure.
  • Realistic - don't create tasks which can't be achieved because it's unrealistic
Quiz yourself
Quizzing yourself is a great way to keep your brain at work and the topics you're revising fresh in your mind. You can ask a friend or parents to help you by asking you a set of questions related to the topics you are studying. You may also find useful quizzes here: or here:

Mind Maps
A great way of keeping information fresh in your mind is by creating 'mind maps' of key information and sticking them around your house, giving them a quick read every time you walk past.

Reward yourself
Remember to reward yourself once you have completed your revision period each day. This could include seeing your friends, watching TV or anything else you enjoy. This will keep you motivated to complete your revision period.

Think Positively
Finally - THINK POSITIVELY! Consider your mental attitude, how you approach the task and how it might be holding you back. The more positively you think about yourself and your actions, the more you will be able to get completed. 

Friday, 1 May 2015


Today was the final judging for the KS4 Siemens Company Challenge. Taking place at Siemens headquarters in Frimley, the judging comes after 4 months of very hard work! Teams from ACS Cobham School, Charterhouse School, The Connaught School, Gordon's School, LVS Ascot, Reading Girls School and Tomlinscote School attended the Kick-off event back in January, when they were given briefs for their projects. The teams were given the opportunity to choose from a list of 5 categories, on which they would base their project and 'invent' a product. The categories were:

  • Improving a patients experience when being scanned to identify potential health problems.
  • A way of improving healthcare for elderly patients.
  • The use of technology, internet and mobile devices to ensure that people living in a remote part of the world have access to the same level of healthcare as those who live in cities and major towns.
  • Using products and technology that is available for us, improving the immediate follow up and response to save more lives after a possible natural disaster (tsunamis, floods).
  • Thinking of patients, doctors and engineers, a way to control an infectious disease (e.g. Ebola) and reducing it's impact. 
Over the past 4 months, each group of students has been working with a staff member from Siemens who has been acting as a mentor to help guide the students in their project. The students will have learnt about marketing and product development, and what it is like to work in the technology/engineering industry - directly from those who do. This experience will have provided the students with a great item to include in university applications or interviews. 

Today the students have been presenting their projects to a team of judges. The teams were working towards 3 winning categories, "Best Presentation", "Innovative Research & Development", and "Overall Winner". Each team lead a very strong presentation and had worked very hard in the months running up to today's judging. The winners of each category were as follows; Overall Winners - Reading Girls School, Best Presentation - Tomlinscote School and Innovative Research & Development -  Gordon's School.