Students inspired to ‘reach for the stars’ at official UTC opening

Students at the University Technical College (UTC) Portsmouth were hugely excited to welcome ESA astronaut Major Tim Peake to officially open their college yesteday (12 December).

Major Tim Peake at the launch of the UTC Portsmouth.

The University is the lead sponsor of the UTC Portsmouth, based in Hilsea, where up to 600 pupils, aged 14–19, will specialise in advanced manufacturing, science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM), alongside studying core GCSE subjects and participating in a wide range of sporting and enrichment activities.

Having opened its doors for the first time in September, this was a great opportunity for students to show off the amazing state of the art facilities for STEM learning the college has to offer to the assembled VIP guests.

“It’s great to see the enthusiasm students at UTC Portsmouth have for STEM learning,” said Tim. “Young men and women studying here are being taught to aim high and given a deep understanding of the sheer scope of opportunities that are available to them in the future.

“I’ve been really impressed with the exciting ideas the students have shown me today as well as the fantastic questions they have asked.

“UTCs impress me because they are not just training the next generation of STEM professionals and developing a much needed skills pipeline to the careers of the future, they are offering their students the opportunity to make the important connection between what they learn in the classroom and how it relates to the real world.”

Students had the opportunity to showcase employer partner inspired projects to a small group of guests as they toured the college. Owen Bradstreet, who worked on the moon base challenge set by Airbus was thrilled to be able to discuss their solution with Tim. “We were set the task to work out what we would need to sustain a colony of 10 people on the moon and calculate the materials required and amount of air for the base.

Major Tim Peake met students from the UTC.

“It was truly inspirational to meet Tim Peake.  He’s been to the space station and now he’s here talking to us at UTC Portsmouth.  He was really interested in our project.  We’re really lucky to have him here what he’s done is great.”

Sixth-form students were also given the opportunity to ask Tim questions, they ranged from “what’s the best and worst space themed movie due to scientific inaccuracies and why?” to “out of the 250+ experiments that you conducted during your Principia mission, which one was the most challenging to conduct and why?”

Zoe Bowbrick was one of those asking a question. She commented: “Today has been so exciting to have the opportunity to speak to Tim Peake and ask him questions about the experiments he did in space has been a privilege.  It’s opened my mind to new opportunities.”

Principal of UTC Portsmouth, Ciaran O’Dowda summed up how everyone at the college felt about the day: “It is such a huge honour and privilege for us to have had Tim Peake officially open our college. I know this experience has had a real impact on our students and will continue to inspire them to ‘reach for the stars’ in everything that they do.”

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  1. I know STEM is traditionally male dominated but there are women in STEM, e.g. Ada Lovelace, Karen Masters in ICG so it would have been good to have some girls in the photographs

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