An evening of celebration at the North East STEM Awards

North East STEM Awards

The North East STEM Hub held the first ever awards night in the region, celebrating the contribution that companies and individuals have made to enthuse and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals.

The North East STEM Ambassador programme ran by RTC North has over 1400 registered STEM Ambassadors who have clocked up an impressive 15,000 hours in the last 14 months. Every interaction brings young people into contact with thousands of volunteers who give up their time to deliver inspiring, engaging, and informative events, videos, demonstrations, lectures and many more types of activities to engage our future workforce and help close the skills gap. Claire Willis, Business Development Manager for the North East STEM Hub, said:

“We felt that this year, more than any other, our volunteers deserved to be recognised for their commitment and dedication to the programme. The North East STEM Awards are a celebration of the impact on young people, parents, and teachers that STEM companies and individuals have had not only in our region but much further afield.

With over 100 people joining us for this virtual event, we are very grateful to all those individuals and companies who continue to support the programme and we look forward to the awards in 2022, where we can hopefully celebrate in person.”

The evening was hosted by author and TV host Dallas Campbell, who is originally from the North East and passionate about enthusing children into STEM related subjects.

With 15 award categories including six special recognition awards, it was a full agenda and there were lots to celebrate.

Worley, Capita and Jacobs sponsored the awards, Victoria Richards, Senior Project and Growth Manager, from event sponsor Jacobs, said: “Jacobs is driving STEM initiatives which are essential to inspire and secure future talent for Jacobs and help tackle complex issues such as climate change threats, resilient cities and communities, and natural-resource stresses. We value the collaboration and support the North East STEM Hub has given Jacobs and were delighted to sponsor this important event.”

Bradley Andrews, President at event sponsors Worley, said: "This event celebrates STEM businesses and individuals who are as passionate about supporting the next generation as we are. We have 48,000 of the world’s brightest scientists, technologists, engineers and data scientists all working to solve the planet’s toughest challenges. It’s our hope that by working through organisations like the North East STEM hub, we can engage and inspire the workforce of the future who will drive our purpose of delivering a more sustainable world.”

With support from the sponsors, £250 will be given to seven North East schools chosen by some of our winners to help support the teaching of STEM.

Jennifer Chamley, Responsible Business Lead, from event sponsor Capita said: “Capita were thrilled to be sponsoring the North East STEM Awards.

“We are lucky to have so many enthusiastic STEM Ambassadors within our organisation who support and enthuse incredible students, so to play a part in the celebration of STEM in the North East is very exciting.”

For more information on STEM visit:


The full list of award winners included:


Highest number of hours by a North East STEM Ambassador:

Paula McMahon

Paula logged almost 1,500 hours since 1st April 2020, representing over 200 separate engagements. Not only has she delivered in the UK but has also had international students at some of her online events. 


Highest number of active STEM Ambassadors from a North East SME: 

Labman Automation Ltd

Labman Automation have 27 registered STEM Ambassadors, which is almost a third of their total workforce. They have adapted well to change their STEM activities during the pandemic, delivering online virtual tours followed by a Q&A session instead of their usual factory visits. They have also sponsored an afterschool group from a local school and started their own ‘Robot Wars’ competition called ‘FightFest’.


Highest number of active STEM Ambassadors from a large North East company:


Jacobs are involved in numerous STEM initiatives, not just regionally but on a global scale, with a substantial team of STEM Ambassadors participating in a range of STEM Projects like ‘The Big Project’, and award winning Industrial Workshop (recently made virtual). These initiatives have developed their future talent pool, resulting in many young careers flourishing within their business, where the students have become apprentices, apprentices become graduates and graduates have ultimately become chartered engineers.


Highest number of hours for a new STEM Ambassador:

Buddila Wijeyesekera

Buddila has been part of the STEM Ambassador programme for just under 2 years, the majority of this has been during the pandemic. However he has supported Big Bang events, clean careers talks, Penpal letter for the National writing day (My STEM Pen friend), Video spotlights, Nuffield Research Place-ments, British Science week, STEM Clubs, as well as events on the theme of renewable and sustaina-ble energy technologies. He is passionate about increasing diversity within the STEM sector with activi-ties linked to Black History Month and encouraging more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups into careers within the energy sector.


Most inspirational North East Science Employer:

Quotient Sciences

Quotient Sciences Alnwick Site has been involved in multiple STEM activities. One of their most popular events included hosting a series of Christmas lectures. As well as taking part in numerous STEM events, they also delivered virtual tours of their Alnwick site. They created practical activities around the importance of handwashing just before the first lockdown, and have adapted their delivery to support parents and young people who were home-schooling which involved sharing regular STEM based activities on their Facebook page and a “Draw a Scientist Competition.”


Most inspirational North East Technology Employer:

DXC Technology

DXC Technology employees have continued providing a variety of STEM activities online including virtual mentoring, presentations raising awareness of IT roles and the different entrance routes to employment within their company including their Graduate Scheme and Apprenticeship routes, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM and encouraging LGBTQ+ students to get a job in IT.

Their biggest event of the year was a Dragon’s Den style University Challenge, where they had 120 students competing from multiple universities across the UK, where they had to work in teams to come up with a new innovative IT Product or Service and deliver a Dragon’s Den style pitch to panel of judges.


Most inspirational North East Engineering Employer:


Costain have been building a dedicated team focussed on delivering high quality STEM activity.  Throughout the pandemic, they have been using technology to reach out and improve the lives of young people across the North East. With virtual site tours, mentoring sessions and many other activities, reaching out to diverse groups. In addition, there has been virtual work experience sessions, support for careers leaders through three enterprise advisors and sponsorship of the UTC South Durham. 


Most inspirational North East Maths Employer:

Virgin Money

Virgin Money has a STEM Outreach programme which has been running for the past 5 years. They have participated in a variety of different STEM activities, and their annual STEMtastic event which welcomes over 200 children per year to their Gosforth office have been a great success and has even been adopted by other organisations. Virgin Money are currently developing a virtual offering for schools in response to the new flexible workforce, and they have developed a young entrepreneur scheme ‘Make £5 Grow’.


Most inspirational North East STEM Employer:


The Nissan skills foundation was officially launched in October 2014 and now offers over 14 bespoke STEM linked activities alongside actively promoting other schemes such as the First Lego League, VEXIQ Robotics and F1 in schools. From humble beginnings, Nissans offer has grown from 4 schools and 135 learners to 12,000 students and 185 schools per year and in January 2021 passed the 65,000 student milestone. Last month they announced their continued commitment to the young people of the North East by making a pledge to offer every schoolchild in the North East a place at one of their foundation events.


Special recognition award for outstanding contribution to STEM Education in the North East went to:

Rob Dodds

Rob helps to runs a 30 hour on site STEM Work Experience programme and can also be seen judging various robotics competitions. He has played a major part in the One Vision and Ford Next Generation Learning Programmes delivered by the NELEP and as part of this has produced a video highlighting the importance of Teamwork and STEM for future careers.  Rob delivered an online STEM Careers Fair for Year 11 students as well as delivering a Virtual 360 Tour of his company Unipres and is a Careers Enterprise Advisor for Farringdon Academy.

Paula McMahon

This was Paula’s second award of the evening. She has for many years volunteered with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and is currently the Teesside Branch Chair and North East Vice Chair. She also undertakes national roles chairing the Editorial Panel of the ICE Proceedings: Civil Engineering and is an ICE Lead Reviewer.  She is also the Founding Chair and driving force behind Engineering Together, based in the Tees Valley. Paula recognises the importance of inspiring the next generation of engineers by mentoring and coaching young people. She is passionate about working towards a diverse workforce, leading the way on many initiatives focusing on supporting women in the Engineering sector.

Steve Markham

Over the last few months Steve has been involved in many virtual events developed from those activities that were usually done face to face, such as Career speed dating and 'a day in the life of’ question and answer session. He also spends a lot of time supporting and encouraging primary school teachers on how STEM Ambassadors can help deliver and link the school curriculum with everyday careers.

Jenny Haigh

Jenny has delivered an incredible 80 separate online individual activities since lockdown, and has set up a bank of resources, videos, lectures and live interviews, talking and helping young people build a picture of careers in various STEM industries increasing their enjoyment of STEM and having a positive impact on their learning.

Ian Green

Ian has headed up the Nissan skills foundation since its official launch in October 2014. He started in school governance 20 years ago and has carried that knowledge into developing award winning programs delivered by the Nissan team.

He is passionate about giving young people the skills and knowledge they need to make informed choices about potential careers in the Advanced Manufacturing and engineering worlds.

Sophie Read

Sophie has been a judge at Bring It On, was part of the Great Exhibition of the North as well as taking part in numerous careers events and guided tours for both school, college and university students. She has also taken part in numerous "STEM Parties" conducting hands on practical experiments. During COVID19 she was the driving force behind moving all her company’s STEM activities online. Sophie is currently working with the Scottish Tech Army and CodeClan to bring her experience of being a STEM Ambassador "north of the border".

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