Alexander Ure works on submarines as a nuclear engineer, and is a STEM Ambassador. In answering the STEM NOW Q&A, Alexander speaks of the breadth of career opportunities within STEM, and of his passion for inspiring young people to get into STEM...
What do you enjoy about being a STEM Ambassador and why?
AU: The array of opportunities available to me to inspire young adults and children into my field (Nuclear Submarines).
What has been your best moment during your time as a STEM Ambassador so far and why?
AU: Having conducted many STEM events over the last 5 years there have been many fulfilling 'moments'. However one in particular stands out because of its relevance to my role. A young male at a local school who had read and understood 'The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service Since 1945' to the point he was able to identify the Reactor types fitted to individual Russian Submarines over the years. The book is comprehensive and a very heavy read, and for a 13 yr old to have such intimate knowledge of it, left a very lasting impression on me.
Can you remember what first sparked your curiosity in science and how this has led you to where you are today?
AU: I sort of fell into my career path as a young impressionable male in the 1990's. I knew I wanted to join the Royal Navy, but had no real knowledge of what was available to me. The Service need steered me towards an Engineering role, even although I was just happy to be in the Royal Navy. However, many years later I now understand and appreciate the position I am in and the influence I can have in inspiring children. My job relies hugely on STEM related subjects; from my 'O' Level (old school GCSE in Scotland) Physics helping me understand Nuclear Reactor Plant materials as well as my Chemistry 'O' Level ensuring I had a fundamental understanding of the mechanics of corrosion, a major part of my every day job working on Nuclear Reactors in ensuring that the Reactor Systems remain safe to operate.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a future in STEM?
AU: A lot of children I talk to don't really appreciate how many careers and roles require knowledge and appreciation of the STEM subjects. I try very hard to make them aware of the importance of these subjects at school.
Which field of STEM interests you the most/tell us about your particular specialism?
AU: Engineering. But only just. As Technology continues to develop and evolve I am becoming more interested in how we will operate and control the 'things 'of the future. But as an Engineer I can almost relate my job and knowledge to any field, from very basic engineering all the way through to specialist subjects requiring intimate knowledge of certain areas of Science and Engineering. For instance, as a Submariner I am required to have an appreciation and a knowledge of Atmosphere control on-board a Nuclear Submarine to help ensure that the crew can remain safe and at sea for extended periods.
Who has inspired you during your STEM journey and why?
AU: The children I have spoken to during my time as a STEM Ambassador. Their interest and desire to learn keeps me going.
Why is diversity and inclusion in STEM fields important?
AU: A diverse workforce, in any industry, and particularly in a STEM environment, ensures you are able to pull together ideas and knowledge from all. Peoples life experiences, upbringing and the community they come from help shape a person and will add value to any company. Diverse people = diverse ideas.
What are your aspirations for the future?
AU: Continue to inspire children into STEM subjects and careers.