Andrew Lane is the Production Shift Manager at BOC Fawley, an armed forces veteran and a STEM Ambassador. Answering the STEM NOW Q&A, he highlights the value of STEM workplace visits for young people...
Who or what first inspired your curiosity in STEM?
AL: I have always had an interest in engineering and science, but my chemistry teacher at school inspired me the most. He had come into teaching from industry and managed to bring chemistry to life, giving it meaning and practical application.
What was your personal journey into STEM, or your chosen field?
AL: I left school with a handful of O levels, including sciences and maths and joined the Royal Navy as a marine engineering apprentice. I served for 22 years across various types of ship with different propulsion systems giving me a solid grounding in engineering. I became a STEM ambassador in the last two years in the Royal Navy but it really took off when I joined BOC and got involved in cryogenic air separation.
Have you encountered/overcome any boundaries along your STEM journey?
AL: The biggest hurdle was convincing my line manager that groups of school children could benefit from visiting an industrial site to look at air gases and the job opportunities that this type of industry has to offer. With a careful plan and risk assessment in place, we have been offering STEM visits to many local schools for a number of years.
What is something you are working on/have worked on that excites you?
AL: In 2017 I was involved in the Secret World of Gases project, assisting with the liquid nitrogen aspects and subsequently delivering the show to schools across Hampshire and Surrey. As a result of the company involvement in the project we now have over 40 STEM Ambassadors across the country delivering science and careers events using air gases. I'm really excited about the future of STEM within BOC.
What has been your most memorable moment as a STEM Ambassador and why?
AL: Probably delivering the first school visit at BOC Fawley. I was really nervous about the content and how it would be received, but all went well and the students and staff were fascinated and excited by the science and application of cryogenics.
Why is it important that young people are introduced to STEM?
AL: STEM is all around us and impacts our daily lives in ways that are not always obvious. It's important to me that STEM employers showcase their innovations to inspire the next generation. Not everyone will want a career in science or engineering, but for those that may think about it, early exposure can positively influence their choices.
What advice would you give a young person considering a future in STEM?
AL: There are so many STEM sectors and pathways that it can all be a bit daunting. Aim for something that excites you.
Why is diversity and inclusion in STEM fields important?
AL: As STEM impacts everyone, it is important that everyone is involved in it's progression. All groups have a part to play and different ways of thinking lead to innovative solutions.
What are your hopes for the future of STEM?
AL: I would like to see more access to STEM environments. When we take the gases show into school there is always a great reaction, but bringing the school to an industrial site provides an insight into career opportunities as well.