Marta talking to high school students with presentation slides

Generating future STEM Leaders

May 16, 2019

The Research Project Management Office spent a day with high-school students part of the Generating Genius Programme – charity propelling under-represented groups into STEM careers.

What a blast it was to be part of the Generating Genius (GG) visit to Imperial College London. As part of the week-long visit Dr Marta Archanco along with Siobhan Markus from the Research Project Management office spent a day with 8 high-school students from the Uni Genius programme.

GG is a charitable organisation working with young people who are underrepresented in higher education particularly in STEM; this includes females and ethnic groups who are generally from low-income households and most probably the first in family to go to university (Generating Genius, 2019). With university visits as part of the programme, it came as no surprise that the GG team came to Imperial to check-out the STEM initiatives and innovations Imperial are driving. Marta and Siobhan took students on a deep-dive into current EU-funded research projects and dared them with a design challenge. The challenge was indeed accepted and thrown back with interest with their project management skills. A well-deserved win which was followed-up with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Natural History Museum’s entomology department!

Project Manager for EDEN2020 Marta took the students on a deep-dive into what it is like to manage transcontinental research projects. Looking to case studies within the Research Project Management office such as EDEN2020, the students were challenged to take to market a cutting-edge innovation in fabric and textiles – a shirt that will last forever! The students did a fantastic job in brand and design and exploring the societal, cultural, political and scientific implications of a revolutionary invention. Marta and Siobhan were so impressed with the way the students worked in a team and felt energised by their creativity, unique perspectives, and scientific prowess.

BAME high school students writing on butcher's paper
Students working on their pitch

Students spent the afternoon with a back-stage pass to the Natural History Museum’s entomology department. They were surrounded by millions of insect specimens as resident research scientist Dr Andrew Polaszek took them through diverse collections not currently available for public viewing. Along with Dr Polaszek was EDEN2020’s biomedical engineer, Marlene Pinzi who showed the students how a wasp’s stinger inspired the design and development of EDEN2020’s catheter. Students were given an overview of the EDEN2020 project while handling the catheter prototypes. With the students interested in careers ranging from biomedicine to surgery, it was no surprise they were well-versed with biomimicry and it was great to hear all the questions they had about the steerable needle and its integration with the robotic system to deliver life-saving cancer treatment to impervious areas in the brain.

BAME teenagers looking through microscopes
Students looking under the microscope at a range of different insects while learning about catheter prototypes from EDEN2020’s biomedical engineer, Marlene Pinzi.

Much like EDEN2020, since its beginning in 2003, the GG programme is about impact. According to their website, since August 2018, 65% of the 400 alumni are currently at university studying a STEM degree and 12% are in full-time employment in the STEM sector (Alumni Genius, 2019). To be part of this impact was uplifting for all. Siobhan Markus learned a lot from these hard-working students and says she “looks forward to welcoming the next lot of GG students to Imperial, whether that be as a student or the next leading STEM researcher at Imperial!”.