UCL Energy Institute


UCL-Energy students visit schools to talk future careers

10 March 2014

UCL-Energy PhD students Jenny Love and Sofie Pelsmakers have been visiting schools in London to talk about future careers.

healthy cities

Here Jenny talks about the work they have been doing:

Sofie Pelsmakers and I went to school last week, for the first time in *ahem* a long time. We were there as part of a London-wide programme called Inspiring the Future  aimed at showing GSCE-aged students what jobs exist and how to get into them. Sofie and I were there to talk about careers in climate, energy and sustainable buildings.

I was aiming to improve upon my previous attempt at engaging young people in my research, which took place when I met a 9 year old on a housing estate whilst doing my PhD fieldwork:

9 year old: “What’s that?”

Jenny: “it’s a sensor wrapped in bubble wrap. I’m trying to measure whether insulation changes how people use their houses.”

9 year old: “Sounds really boring. Can I play with the bubble wrap?”

It turns out that insulation is a bit of a conversation killer, so neither Sofie nor I chose to focus on that. We spoke about how we’d pursued a career in the subject we were passionate about, how we wanted to use our lives to help people, and also about how hard work gets you pretty far in life.

After the talk, there was a networking session in which the students could ask questions to each of use one-on-one. Some budding architects came to chat to Sofie whilst I talked about kinetic energy with a bright student for whom that was her favourite type of energy.

We felt like this was an important thing to do for several reasons. Climate change is going to affect these students more than our generation, so it is important to encourage people into an environmental career. We also wanted to open up access to environmental careers to girls and boys from a wide variety of backgrounds. Finally, we hoped to show that there are different routes into an environmental career - architecture and physics being just two – so that the students can envisage using whatever subject they are good at for the benefit of the environment.