National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

Creating a Unique Learning Experience

With the Nexia Solutions Corporate Responsibility (CR) strategy focused on science learning and training, the first Nexia Solutions sponsored residential nuclear engineering course for 15 and 16 year olds took place earlier this year.

30 students from across the UK were able to enjoy a unique learning experience courtesy of Nexia Solutions and its partner the Smallpeice Trust. The Smallpeice Trust is a charitable organisation that works with industrial partners to support the training of young people in the engineering sector. With support from its partners, Smallpeice provides residential courses and in-school curriculum enrichment activities. Working closely with Smallpeice, Nexia Solutions provided a brand new four-day residential nuclear engineering course for 15 and 16 year old students. The course, held at Durham University, offered an introduction to the sometimes complex subject of nuclear engineering through a series of simple analogies and experiments. Mentoring of the students during the course was provided by Nexia Solutions personnel Steven Stanley, Dominic Rhodes, Helen Steele, Chris Rhodes, and Graham MacKay. Tim Abram, Senior Fellow Reactor Systems also attended and gave a presentation to students. During the course, students undertook a project with a ‘design and make’ theme to unravel an engineering challenge. Throughout the four days, students were given the opportunity to take in curriculum enrichment activities for maths, science and technology. In addition, students were able to gain personal skills development in team working, presentations, communication and problem solving. They were also able to experience an ‘early’ taste of university life. Final presentations were made by the teams to a panel that included Nexia Solutions Managing Director Peter Bleasdale, Chief Technology Officer Graham Fairhall and Human Resources and Communications Director Mandy Mayor. Nexia Solutions senior managers also attended a celebration dinner on the last evening that included a presentation of prizes to the most successful students. Nexia Solutions Communications Manager and course organiser Gareth Thomas said: “Students took part in experiments that examined how ‘ordinary’ science can be used in nuclear science. In the nuclear sense, radioactivity puts limits on how we do things and this was explored throughout the course.” Education Officer from the Smallpeice Trust, Laura Bassinder, added: “This course provided an insight into a particular segment of engineering. It dispels the myth that engineering is a dry and uninteresting subject and more importantly offers students further career choices.”