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STEM schools challenge drives enthusiasm for energy

Months of hard work by potential engineers of the future came to an end at the close of 2015 when senior school pupils from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire presented the findings of an oil and gas project to industry professionals.

TechFest's STEM in the Pipeline programme, which is supported by Chevron, BP, The University of Aberdeen, ConocoPhillips and the Project Management Institute, began in August, when 16 teams of pupils were set an oil field challenge to test their skills in physics, maths, chemistry and geology. Each of the supporting organisations provided volunteer mentors who made themselves available to the pupils for guidance and support.

Throughout the project, teams worked together and took part in a series of challenges to produce a Field Development Plan for the fictional oil field. Activities included subsurface work, production profiling, separator design, safety and the calculation of CO2 emissions. These were all designed to engage the young people in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines.

2015 STEM in the Pipeline Winners – Team ROGO from Robert Gordons College

The 2015 STEM in the Pipeline Winners – Team ROGO from Robert Gordons College.

At the end of the programme, the teams submitted a report to TechFest and attended the final event, held at BP’s Aberdeen headquarters, where they gave a presentation to a panel of assessors and exhibited their work to attendees from across industry and academia. Following this, certificates and awards were presented to all participants.

“The STEM in the Pipeline project is a great way for secondary school pupils to put all of their knowledge and skills into practice to solve a problem which is relevant to the oil and gas industry,” said TechFest STEM coordinator, Molly Imrie.

“We are very grateful to our sponsors and supporters for their ongoing support. The students have worked very hard over the last three months, with each putting in more than 40 extra-curricular hours of work to complete their respective projects.

“Year on year the students excel and always demonstrate very high levels of passion, intelligence and ingenuity. The added benefit is that all pupils who took part in STEM in the Pipeline will also be eligible for the Silver CREST Award, Britain’s national award scheme for work in the STEM subjects,” she added.

Laura Easton, Chevron Upstream Europe’s Stakeholder Engagement and Social Investment advisor, said: "We have been impressed with the commitment and energy of the pupils throughout the programme and it has been great to see their confidence, competitiveness, and ability to make key decisions grow.

“We know that tomorrow's Chevron employees are today's schoolchildren and by investing in programmes like STEM in the Pipeline we are confident that we can help the pupils connect what they are learning in the classroom with the real world application in the industry. By doing this, we hope to encourage and inspire them to consider the energy sector as a future career path.”

Participating schools included Aboyne Academy, Alford Academy, Banchory Academy, Banff Academy, Ellon Academy, Fraserburgh Academy, Harlaw Academy, Inverurie Academy, Kemnay Academy, Meldrum Academy, Portlethen Academy, Robert Gordon's College, St Margaret's School for Girls, The Gordon Schools and Westhill Academy.

For more information on Chevron’s social investment programmes in the UK click here.