Courses at Ayrshire College

Retired engineer encourages school pupils into STEM careers

Retired engineer encourages school pupils into STEM careers

A retired electrical engineer has completed a remarkable 47 primary school visits in his new voluntary role of STEM Ambassador.

67-year-old George Burns approached Ayrshire College at the start of the year to find out how he could share his knowledge of the engineering world with young people.

The College has students and staff signed up as STEM Ambassadors, who visit schools to give presentations and put on workshops for enthusiastic pupils. George quickly signed up to the STEM Ambassadors programme on the advice of Alistair Heron, Ayrshire College’s Head of Engineering & Science, and never looked back.

George left school at the age of 16 to start an apprenticeship with the National Coal Board while studying at Ayr Technical College, as Ayrshire College was known at the time. Since retiring last year, he now spends most of his free time passing on his engineering expertise to pupils.

He has completed 47 visits since February 2017 at the likes of Annanhill Primary School, Catrine Primary School, Gargieston Primary School, Newmilns Primary School, and Onthank Primary School.

George was quick to praise the STEM Ambassadors programme for giving him a new lease of life following retirement.

George said “I first went into the nursery where my granddaughter was, and the primary school where my grandson was, to talk about my career. Then I was pointed towards Alastair at the College who told me all about the STEM Ambassadors programme.

“It’s not just a case of me filling in my time since I’ve retired, I simply want to give something back. I can honestly say I enjoyed every moment of my career and I want to pass that onto children. I also want to encourage them into engineering as an alternative to university. Work is a part of life and if a suitable career path is chosen, they can really enjoy it. 

“The pupils have been excellent, I’ve not been in a school where they’ve not responded well. I’ve been showing them electrical circuits in Primary 2 - I had to wait until secondary school to learn about them! It is amazing what they are learning in schools now.”

Plans are in place for George to return to the primary schools next year to continue his excellent work as a STEM Ambassador.

He said “If I’m needed, I definitely intend to keep going. I’ve emailed and thanked all of the teachers since I finished up in June and most have been in touch to say they look forward to me returning in August.”

Many Ayrshire STEM employers are active participants in the STEM Ambassadors programme, including BAE Systems, Booth Welsh, EDF Energy, GE Caledonian, GSK Irvine, Hypsec Engineering, NATS Prestwick, and Spirit AeroSystems.

21 July 2017

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