Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths – STEM

This week, Engineers Emily Bradley and Michael Crabbe attended the University of Leeds STEM fair. They took along the JBA Trust’s mini flume to promote our graduate recruitment programme.

Our flexible Graduate Programme offers exciting career opportunities in Engineering, Environmental Management, Software/Systems Development and Water Management/Geoscience. Enabling graduates to contribute to exciting and innovative projects whilst working alongside technical specialists and industry experts.

Be part of something amazing – visit our Graduate Recruitment page to find out more and to apply.

STEM Ambassador

In line with our involvement in STEM, Robbie Cowan, Technical Director (Land Survey), has recently become a STEM ambassador. On Thursday 5 October, he visited Fallin Primary School in Stirlingshire to talk to students aged 9-11. Below, he gives us his account of his visit.


The school wanted students to find out more about careers involving working in the great outdoors, and Land Surveying certainly fits into that category.

I was a bit nervous about going into the Primary School, it was my first STEM Ambassador visit, and I was unsure at how responsive the children would be. However, I received a very warm welcome and got a few “hello Robbie’s” from those sitting at the front which was very reassuring.

I spoke to them about what land surveying involved – not just about typically looking through a telescope, but about using different types of equipment, like drones, to creating maps and 3D models, like in Minecraft. We had a lot of talk about Minecraft, how you can build things and how you can flood areas if you take away the wrong blocks. Very educational for me!

Land Surveying is also about travel, visiting new and interesting places. Being an outdoor job, and always having to survey different sites, travel is essential to the job. A question at the end was, “Where was the most famous place I had surveyed?”. Good question. After having shown them pictures earlier of surveyors working in front of the Houses of Parliament/Big Ben, The Sphinx in Egypt and the recently opened Queensferry Crossing, I am afraid my response of Stirling Castle and Buchannan Street in Glasgow just didn’t impress.

The most striking point of my visit was a question from a young girl, “Can girls be Land Surveyors?” I was taken aback by this, that someone so young could already have a question over what she could or could not do in later life! Her question confirmed that my time spent visiting the school was very worthwhile. Even if I had influenced one young girl’s perception on her outlook on later life. As Judy Hopps (Zootropolis) said, “Anyone can be anything.”


The stats

The following statistics were presented to Robbie during his STEM Ambassador Induction training:

  • 72% of girls and 75% of boys under 11 said they learn interesting things in science
  • 54% of girls and 71% of boys aged 12-13 want to work in science, or be an inventor, engineer of doctor
  • 37% girls and 48% of boys aged 15-16 are interested in continuing studying science (> two STEM A levels)
  • 19% girls and 33% boys aged 18 actually study science (> STEM A levels)

The figures above suggest that at Primary School ages, there is still a strong interest from both girls and boys into STEM subjects. It is important for our industry that we therefore encourage these interests into later life and careers.

On 30 October, Robbie is visiting Sunnyside Primary in Alloa, visiting 8-9 year olds. Again, he will talk to them about land surveying, with a touch of flooding too. We currently have a survey project for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) just a mile from the Primary School location. This is a channel and culvert survey aiming to update SEPA’s National Flood Map in that area. SEPA have provided me with rulers, made out of recycled CD cases, to give out during the visit.

JBA Trust

The JBA Trust was created in 2011 as an independent charity that supports research and promotes the development of knowledge and skills in environmental risk management, especially in the water environment. They work in partnership and develop relationships with universities, schools and other charities to provide support for a wide range of people and organisations.

Working with schools, they develop teaching resources for STEM subjects. The aim is to encourage students to participate in STEM subjects and consider the interesting and exciting career opportunities that are available in the water and environmental risk management sector.

Want to know more?

Contact Robbie Cowan for more information on his school visits. You can email Alex Scott, JBA Trust Programme Manager, or visit the JBA Trust website, to find out more about the work of the Trust and how they can help your school, college or university engage with students

Our Research & Development webpage also explains our commitment to innovation and technical excellence, including our collaboration with industry, academia and government.



Leave a Reply