Students from Wyvern Academy, Darlington, were given a hands-on experience of engineering surrounding the subsea industry at a Foundation for Jobs event hosted by Darlington College.
The Year nine students took part in a range of practical activities including the construction of specialist mini remotely operated vehicles (ROV kits) developed by the US Office of Naval Research.
Foundation for Jobs Coordinator, Owen McAteer said: “In the North East we have the highest youth unemployment rates in the country and yet we also have highly skilled industries that cannot recruit due to massive skills shortages.
“We need to try and address this shortfall by getting students interested in science, engineering and technology subjects and letting them know about the vast range of well paid careers available right here on their doorstep.
“Subsea engineering is a massive growth industry within the North East, with a number of world leading companies based in Darlington and The Tees Valley, offering excellent career opportunities for our young people.”
The Foundation for Jobs campaign, a joint initiative to tackle youth unemployment led by The Northern Echo and Darlington Borough Council in association with the Darlington Partnership and both private and public sector organisations, works with industry to build closer links between businesses and young people.
Wyvern Academy STEM Lead, Dennis Kwok said: “Many of the regular attendees of our after school science club along with students who have shown an aptitude or are motivated by science were chosen to attend today’s event.
“It gives them a great real world experience of the application of science and also helps to remove social barriers for students who may never have heard of sub sea technology or did not know that the industry was on their own doorstep.
“It also helps to close the gender gap in engineering, something I am particularly passionate about, by showing that the industry is not all about engines, pistons, boilers and dirty machinery but more about the technical application of STEM.”
The robots which mimic the science behind real ROVs were then trailed in a specially adapted test tank before students were given a tour of the facilities at Darlington College.
Student Emily Bell, 14, of Darlington, said: “Science is all around us and encompasses all subjects such as art, maths, biology, chemistry and physics which is what makes it so interesting.
“Building the sub sea robot has been a lot of fun but has also shown how science can be used in a practical way.”
Holly Reece, 14, of Darlington, added: “I had heard about subsea technology but didn’t realise there were so many major employers within the industry here in Darlington.
“Science has always been my favourite subject and I’d love to study Astronomy or marine biology in the future.”