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Inspiring future generations at Brooklands Innovation Academy

Professor Brian Cox presenting at the Brooklands Innovation Academy. Credit JP Bland (photo)
(image credit: JP Bland for Brooklands Museum)

Inspiring the UK’s workforce of the future at the Brooklands Innovation Academy 2023

400 students aged 12-14 visited historic Brooklands Museum on Tuesday 3 October to explore the different Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers available, through hands-on workshops and hearing firsthand from professionals working in these areas.

The Brooklands Innovation Academy was held at the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation for a second year, a key partner of the National Science Summer School programme.

An apt setting to inspire young people, with an ethos of innovation, entrepreneurship and endeavour, core values which are still completely relevant today.

The aim of Brooklands Innovation Academy is to inspire the workforce of the future to consider a career in STEM.

This ties in with the North West Surrey Health and Care Alliance’s (NWS Alliance) aim of being an employer of choice, by attracting and retaining local and diverse talent.

NWS Alliance is one of several local organisations which sponsor the Brooklands Innovation Academy event, which is part of a year-round programme of linked STEM activities.

The event has acted as a catalyst connecting the NHS, schools, colleges, universities and businesses and encouraging collaboration.

NWS Alliance partner organisation, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also supported the event again this year with Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr Josie Jones speaking about her ‘Prepare to Recover’ initiative.

The Trust’s Clinical Education team also joined the event this year, holding a hands-on workshop focusing on their role to support clinical colleagues by providing many opportunities for them to train in simulated clinical environments.

A total of 20 workshops were available for students to immerse themselves in a variety of engaging and practical activities.

The workshops were designed to encourage “learning by doing” and included making toothpaste, seeing how microbiologists test for and protect products from being contaminated, how safety components are tested in Formula One and launching rockets!

Workshop providers included lead sponsor Haleon, McLaren and the National Physical Laboratory. 

During the event, the students heard from an exciting lineup of speakers, which included Professor Brian Cox CBE OBE FRS who co-founded the programme in 2012 with Lord Andrew Mawson OBE.

Also speaking at the event were Dr Clare Morden, who works as an extrication doctor for Formula E globally, and Kirsty Murphy MBE, the first (and currently only) female pilot in the Royal Air Force Aerobatic team, The Red Arrows.

HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh also participated in the day, where she spoke to the students on the importance of STEM careers. She also participated in some of the workshops with Professor Cox.

Professor Brian Cox said:

This year’s Brooklands Innovation Academy has been even more impactful than last year.

The inaugural Academy carved out a unique space where young minds delved into pressing global dilemmas.

This year, the programme was magnified in scope, igniting the curiosity of an even larger cohort of future STEM leaders.

The stories of Brooklands serve as an unparalleled backdrop for these gatherings. Its legacy is one of audacious engineering feats and a quintessentially British spirit of adventure.

The trailblazers who once roamed its grounds – architects of future aviation and automotive technologies – were doers, not just deliberators.

This has been a wonderful day, combining history with modern science and engineering to give students a brilliant insight into incredible STEM possibilities.


Lord Andrew Mawson OBE said: 

Brooklands Innovation Academy continues to act as a tremendous catalyst in Surrey and beyond, helping to bring business, education, health, public sector and community together in a spirit of ‘Learning by Doing’ to inspire our scientists and engineers of the future.


Jack Wagstaff, Chief Officer for NWS Alliance, said:

It’s been great to be a part of the Brooklands Innovation Academy as one of the sponsors once again, working alongside Well North Enterprises, Brooklands Museum and Bourne Education Trust.

The hands-on experience students gain from events likes the Brooklands Innovation Academy can have a meaningful impact on the career paths these young people take.

Working as partners to showcase the different STEM careers available within the health and care sectors to young people living and studying in and around Surrey can help us to achieve our aim of becoming a workplace of choice, where we are able to attract and retain diverse talent.


Tamalie Newbery, Director and CEO, Brooklands Museum, said :

We are thrilled to have once again welcomed 400 students to Brooklands Museum for the Brooklands Innovation Academy.

We are delighted to have demonstrated, and drawn upon, the site’s legacy of innovation to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

This year, we were delighted that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh, could join us for part of the day, taking the opportunity to talk with students, teachers and our workshop providers.

The Brooklands Innovation Academy is becoming a key event in the nation's educational calendar, enabling and inspiring the UK’s future problem solvers.

Last year's event had a significant positive impact on students, bolstered by the involvement of leading businesses and guest speakers.

We expanded the scope of the programme this year to reach even more students, further solidifying its role in national STEM education.


Penny Alford, Chief Education Officer for Bourne Education Trust, said:

It was such a pleasure to see young people learning in such a hands-on way and making direct links between the workshops and careers that they may wish to consider.

Our students said to us that during the event they had thought about jobs that they may wish to do in the future which they had never thought about before.

There was such a buzz everywhere – I wanted to join in!


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