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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Sarah Barron shadowing scheme at CEB

We aim to give young people the tools and information they need to make informed decisions about their future career opportunities, help them become more confident, and encourage them to apply to study with us at Cambridge. A degree in chemical engineering and biotechnology provides a rewarding career full of interesting challenges and opportunities.

Demonstrating the importance of chemical engineering and biotechnology disciplines amongst young students is key to securing the sustainable future of socieyty, and our PhD students are playing key ambassador roles in this task. Many are getting involved in a number of outreach activities, including developing their own shadowing schemes for young students, to help engage and attract the engineers and scientists of the future.

Sarah Barron, a 3rd year PhD student in our Bioelectronics Systems Technology group who recently won the Vice Chancellor social impact award for her outreach efforts, has been helping students understand the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. She recently invited students from local Cambourne Village College, The Perse School in Cambridge, Longsands Academy, Cheltenham Ladies College, St Paul’s in London and Dominican College in Dublin. to shadow her.

"Following my outreach activities and career talks in local secondary schools, our lab was contacted by some students in attendance, who were particularly interested and excited about the research we are currently doing," said Sarah. "After some careful planning with the department safety team and the local schools we were able to offer the students a visit to the lab over several days to shadow and observe some of the research we are doing. They also took part in chemical safety training, were given supervisions by lab members and prepared a presentation and journal club to demonstrate what they had learned.

"As a young student interested in STEM, it can be particularly challenging to gain any real insight into what research is, before committing to a degree. This can become an even bigger hurdle if you are from an underrepresented background. As a STEM Ambassador and researcher who is passionate about outreach and communication, I hope opportunities like this can become more available within the department, so that we can inform and empower the public and next generation of scientists."

"At CEB, we are developing a programme of outreach activities with schools as we know how important STEM subjects are for our society," says Elena Gonzalez, Marketing and Outreach Assistant at CEB. "Sceince and engineering are essential in our daily lives and we believe that inspiring future generations to engage with chemical engineering and biotechnology is crucial for their educational development and the future of UK industries and the economy. Moreover, our chemical engineers and biotechnologists are tackling the biggest global challenges in energy and the environment, sustainability and healthcare. Training the engineers and scientists of the future is more important than ever, especially considering the current concerns around climate change and energy costs. Our people do play a pivotal role in finding and developing greener sources of energy. At CEB we equip our students with the valuable skills to go out to work in industry or academia, to help solve these complex global problems.

"Two years ago we launched our Davidson Inventors Challenge for Year 10-12 students to learn about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to problem solve, which has attracted interest in schools UK-wide. This is now one of our main school outreach activities and PhD students like Sarah are fantastic role models to mentor and inspire these talented young students from all over the country and beyond."

We very much welcome and encourage maths, chemistry and physics teachers and students interested in STEM, especially from state schools in lower socio-economic areas, to contact us at to find out more about our outreach programmes, arrange a talk, or a visit with your year group to our department on the West Cambridge Site.