STEM Spotlight - Rob Stobie
Can you briefly explain your background and how you got to work in STEM?
I spent 23 years as an Avionics Engineer in the RAF and in the latter part of my career I was lucky enough to create and run a world leading data analysis team. During my career I became a STEM Ambassador and organised events and activities for children in Lincolnshire to participate in. I left the RAF to become a Secondary Maths Teacher and ran a STEM club alongside my full-time role. An opportunity emerged for me to work full-time in a STEM enrichment environment, and it was an obvious choice for me to apply. I think it is easy to be passionate and enthusiastic about organising STEM activities as they provide such enriching and enlightening experiences for the students, aiding in their development in ways that other activities can’t.
What are the key responsibilities in your role?
As the Nuffield Research Placements Coordinator for the northeast of England, I recruit year 12 students to take part in STEM and Social Science based research placements. I also recruit companies and institutions to provide the placements. Additionally, I hold the role of Coach for the ENTHUSE / Cummins Partnership in Darlington. This involves liaising with key stakeholders to ensure that the 10 Schools in the Partnership gain the most possible benefit from the enrichment and CPD opportunities that exist in the region.
Describe a typical day.
On a typical day I would go into a school or college to deliver an overview of the NRP Programme to groups of students. I would then attend a number of meetings virtually to discuss placement opportunities with potential providers. I spend quite a lot of time encouraging students to complete their applications and providing support through webinars. Similarly, I engage very regularly with providers to provide support and encourage them to register for the placements they are offering.
What would you say are the most challenging aspects of your role?
In some cases, it can be a real challenge to make the right connections within a school in order to gain access to students. Once students are recruited, there is an element of difficulty in getting them to complete their applications too. Similarly, providers often agree to provide placements verbally but need significant encouragement to register the placements. The other main challenge is to try to match students to placements that match their needs and are geographically close enough for them to attend.
What do you enjoy most, or what are you most proud of in your job?
I really enjoy interacting with others who are equally passionate about helping the next generation grow through enrichment opportunities. I love seeing how engaged the students become when I tell them about how exciting the Nuffield Placements can be. I’m really looking forward to seeing the impact that these life-changing experiences will have on the students, and I am proud to have been someone who has contributed to that.
What is one truth that would surprise your colleagues about you?
When I was in the RAF, I got sent to the Middle East by accident.