The highlight of last month was our visit to the Big Bang Fair South East. After months of preparations, we set about demonstrating the strength of adhesive tape, as well as the other functions an adhesive material can offer. The aim of the event was to inspire 9-19 year olds to take up careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. It wasn’t that long ago that I was attending events like this myself and, having just taken up a career in Engineering, it was felt that I was perfectly suited to help inspire others to do so too. We took along a number of interactive activities to encourage the children to come and ask us questions. This included a ‘jump box’ from 3M consisting of a wooden frame with two Perspex parts on top, bonded together with VHB™ tape (a very strong acrylic foam tape). Children were invited to come and jump on to the box to test the strength of the tape. This ended up being a very popular activity, nearly as much as the sweets we handed out!
I really enjoyed events like the Big Bang Fair when I was at school, so it was lovely to see how enthusiastic the kids were; I was really shocked at just how much! I thought it was pretty impressive too, that we managed to make sticky tape sound exciting. I know the children would have gone home to their parents with the VHB pull tabs (another tape strength test) we gave them, so they could help pull them apart.
It’s quite nerve racking representing the company, but I found this a lot easier with children being the audience; I’m not sure I’ve mastered adults yet! I do feel conscious, but being around my colleagues that know so much, I felt I picked up a lot more information with regard to explaining what we do and the types of applications our components are used for. Everyone explains things in a different way, so hearing all of these helps to understand better.
Back in the office, I have returned to the R&D Department where I have been doing a lot of sampling work and getting involved in projects. I create samples from digital drawings, provided by customers or our estimators, using our X/Y axis plotter. Using this equipment instead of a flat-bed or rotary die-cutter can be a bit tricky, as setting the blades on the plotter is a bit of an art. When creating die-cuts from a tool this is already set to the correct height, so you don’t have to do anything, just put it into the flat-bed or rotary equipment. It has been good to spend more time using the plotter though, as I have been learning a lot more about its capabilities.
I’ve been taught how to use the laser equipment too, which is a very useful tool. It’s nice that I can now use it to create samples.
My work on projects involves looking at trialling and testing processes and material types. This helps us to determine whether the project, or elements of the project, will be cost effective for the customer. This is common for less straight forward components that haven’t been made before.
College has now finished until I return for my second year in September. The first year has gone very quickly! My studies are going well, having received distinctions in all of my subjects so far.
In other news, I have become a STEM Ambassador, which entails getting involved in a range of activities to support the work of STEMnet in encouraging young people to enjoy STEM subjects. I hope I am able to inspire others to enjoy these subjects as much as I enjoy them myself.