IET member recognised for exceptional achievement

16 October 2011
By Kate Parker
IET member Rhys Phillips receiving an award from Techniquest's Tina Crimp

IET member Rhys Phillips has received special recognition through the Welsh Livery Gold Award for his prolific activities in raising the profile of STEM topics and issues.

The Award is given to a young person who has demonstrated a major contribution to the arts, science or technology for the benefit of the people of Wales and who satisfies the criteria of the Welsh Livery Guild in recognising exceptional personal achievement.

This time last year Member News reported on Rhys’ radio show on Radio Cardiff, ‘Pythagoras’ Trousers’, focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics and featuring a regular STEM Ambassador of the Week as well as an astronomy segment. Rhys was offered a special award, an additional prize of £1000, towards a presenters course together with activities for enhancing his role as a STEM Ambassador.

Rhys joined the STEM Ambassador Scheme to promote STEM subjects to school children in his local area. Although the requirement of the scheme is to undertake a minimum of one activity per year, Rhys took part in over 70 activities on a voluntary basis in the first year after joining the scheme, including giving talks about lightning protection of aircraft, setting and taking part in engineering challenges, tutoring, mentoring, attending careers fairs and events, judging science competitions and hosting school children for group visits and work experience placements at European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) in Newport, Wales. His interactive talks prove a huge hit with schoolchildren, as school teacher Russell Dwyer, of St Thomas Community Primary School, commented, “I wanted the children to see the opportunities they could have from following a career in science and you illustrated just that. I think when children come up to you and say they want to be a scientist, you can safely say it's gone well!”

Of the many activities Rhys has taken part in over the year, he also attended Big Bang Cymru, a schools science fair where schools from across Wales display various science projects they have worked on over the last year for GCSE, AS, A Level and national competitions such as CREST, Young Engineers and the National Science & Engineering Competition.

The event was held in the Waterfront Museum in Swansea and Rhys helped in judging the awards. At the end of the awards ceremony (hosted by Gareth ‘Top’ Jones from How 2!), Tina Crimp, from science and discovery centre Techniquest, presented Rhys with an award for ‘Significant Contribution to the STEM Ambassador Scheme 2010-2011’ on behalf of Techniquest, which previously held the local STEM Ambassador contract, STEM Net, which now runs the national scheme, and David Willets, Minister of State for Universities and Science.

Commenting on Rhys achievements this year, Tina said: “I first met Rhys about a year and a half ago when he visited Techniquest for public engagement training. Since then, there has been no stopping him! He has volunteered for just about every kind of activity imaginable from giving a talk to a group of primary students to helping out at careers events and has also visited Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice to deliver a K’nex workshop for a group of boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Rhys’ radio show is on air every weekend focusing on STEM topics and interviews, and has been advertised to schools to assist them with careers information. Helping out at the Big Bang Cymru event was just another one of the many activities he has participated in.”

The award given to Rhys, pictured above receiving his certificate from Techniquest’s Tina Crimp, was issued directly by STEMNET, the umbrella organisation for the STEM Ambassador scheme, for individuals who ‘go above and beyond the call of duty’.

For more information about STEMNET visit www.stemnet.org.uk

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