Heathrow joins women power STEM Challenge launch

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Heathrow engineers joined students in West London for a special all-women launch of Heathrow’s Secondary School Challenge.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, today students at Eden Girls’ School, Slough raced to construct and programme their own mini version of the autonomous PODs that transport passengers between Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and the business car park. Working in teams with the assistance of Heathrow volunteers, students were inspired to learn new career skills in areas such as engineering and technology – sectors where women are typically less represented.
Now in its ninth year, the challenge teaches year 8 pupils about coding as part of the Government’s Year of Engineering programme which aims to get more young people to take up science, technology, engineering and maths.

The event kicks off a three-month tour of schools in Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne that will encourage students to start thinking about their future careers.

Over half of Heathrow’s 76,000 employees live in the five boroughs around Heathrow. Many young people in those communities will aspire to work at the airport in the future, but may not be aware of the full range of careers or study options available, particularly those in engineering.

Heathrow’s Head of Economic Development Sundeep Sangha said:

“Our industry is evolving and the more women we have across the airport will set us on the path to becoming a truly great place to work. That’s why we continue to invest in programmes across local schools which aim to inspire the next generation of airport experts and help local people find careers that can fulfil their potential.”

Karim Murcia, Principal of Eden Girls’ School, Slough, added:

“We feel privileged to have hosted the launch of the Heathrow Coding Challenge at Eden Girls’ School. Many of our pupils have a keen interest in STEM subjects. Taking part in the Challenge saw them get hands-on experience through an activity that was fun and exciting, while also highlighting how the skills they develop through studying STEM subjects can set them on a path to a rewarding career. It’s been a very inspirational day.”

Over 18,000 young people have taken part in the Challenge since its inception in 2009. In 2018, the Challenge will visit 21 schools with the help of Heathrow colleagues who have built a career at the airport. There will be even more opportunity for young people with Heathrow expansion, a project set to deliver up to 40,000 additional local jobs and up to 10,000 apprenticeships.