Student Circuit’s STEM inspirations & role models

We all know January can be bleak, so we’ve rounded up our key STEM role models to pass on some inspiration.

From founders of STEM initiatives to key figures in space exploration, this list holds something for every STEM enthusiast.

Sit back, relax, and come with us on a tour of some of the very best in the STEM industry.

Dr Susan Scurlock

Susan Scurlock is Founder and Chief Executive of Primary Engineer, an educational not-for-profit providing programmes to encourage children from 3-19 to consider STEM and engineering careers.

Susan wants to inspire young children to achieve their potential, engage with education and be motivated by engineering.

Despite Susan’s incredible contribution to the industry, she’s not an engineer, something her father at the outset said was not a career for girls. It can definitely be argued that her life’s work has been proving him wrong.

Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield became an astronaut in 1992, achieving a series of Canadian firsts throughout his career. He was the first Canadian to be a space mission specialist, to operate the Canadarm in orbit, to do a spacewalk and to command the International Space Station.

Since retiring from space, Chris has spoken all over the world about his experiences in the hopes of inspiring the next generation.

He has also written multiple books, including An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything (2013).

Dr Tosha Nembhard

Dr Tosha Nembhard, Programme Director in Aerospace Engineering, Lead for Degree Apprenticeships and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion in School of Engineering at University of Leicester, has been challenging stereotypes just by being herself.

As an international woman with experience in a senior position in the aerospace industry, Tosha now lecturers for the same subject, changing how students and peers perceive engineering.

Tosha proactively engages with schools, delivering talks and mentoring young children to break stereotypes. Tosha explained: “The power of representation is immense.  I talk about my experiences and challenges; showing the children that I used to be one of them.  I encourage them to pursue what they want to do and stress that with hard work and belief in themselves, they can achieve it.”

Read more about Tosha here.

Bianca Miclea

Bianca is Cyber Threat Intelligence Lead at Fidelity International, on a mission to transform the cyber industry by making it more diverse and accessible for women.

Bianca is striving for equity and equality in cybersecurity and was a shortlisted nominee for the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber. Participating in the ceremony allowed her to connect with incredible women and reinforced the importance of having positive role models.

She also set up a Woman in Cyber group at work, and mentors students who are trying to break into the industry.

Seeing her Women in Cyber group grow, whilst benefiting women has been an exceptional experience, teaching Bianca about the importance of open and honest communication. Especially as conversations about female issues continue to be taboo in many industries.

She urges students, graduates, apprentices, and any engineers to invest in themselves. Whether that’s by taking 10 minutes a day to read the latest industry news, take up mentoring programmes or focus on networking, it’s vital.

Keep an eye out for Bianca’s episode of STEM Minds to hear more.

Lea Button

Lea was nominated by the computer science department of her secondary school, Queen Anne’s, Reading, for the work she achieved introducing cybersecurity to the younger years.

Lea created a lesson plan, following the story of a dinosaur with a secret. Every lesson, students learn a new concept of cybersecurity, for example, the first week introduces encryption and ciphers. After learning the content, students participate in exercises to decipher the dinosaurs encoded secret. As the weeks progress, the students learn more complex ideas, and the dinosaur gets better at hiding its secrets.

Read more about Lea’s work here.