Schools glimpse tomorrow’s powerful world

UK Power Networks, Britain’s largest electricity distributor, will be among more than a dozen key employers bringing interactive challenges to 300 12 to 14-year-old pupils from 30 schools across the South East at the University of Surrey’s sports centre in Guildford on Wednesday (14).
From press releases - 9 November 2012 09:00 AM

Schools glimpse tomorrow’s powerful world

Surrey schoolchildren will learn how ‘tomorrow’s world’ will be powered when Maggie Philbin’s science organisation, TeenTech, teams up with engineers and scientists next week.

UK Power Networks, Britain’s largest electricity distributor, will be among more than a dozen key employers bringing interactive challenges to 300 12 to 14-year-old pupils from 30 schools across the South East at the University of Surrey’s sports centre in Guildford on Wednesday (14).

Liam O’Sullivan, Low Carbon London programme director at UK Power Networks, said: “We’re proud to be joining forces with TeenTech and a wide range of other employers at this fantastic event. As a parent I am keenly aware of the responsibility we have to ensure our electricity networks undergo the transformation necessary to deliver the low carbon future that our next generation deserves, including the optimised use of natural resources.

“These students could be the engineers of the future, ensuring our energy-intensive society meets its tough carbon reduction targets. It’s our job to give them an inspiring insight into the carbon challenges we face and possibly help us tackle those challenges when they graduate from university, about 10 years from now. With TeenTech’s support we want to open their eyes to the endless opportunities that exist by pursuing a career in electrical engineering.”

Maggie Philbin, co-founder of TeenTech and the well-recognised TV presenter of Tomorrow’s World, said: “We set up TeenTech because we wanted to help young people understand about future opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (“STEM”) and the skills they would need to take advantage of them. I went into one school and the only scientist or technologist the students could name was Einstein. They were hungry for contemporary role models. We wanted to show them that careers in STEM really did have the X factor and had tangible rewards.”

UK Power Networks will be setting the pupils interactive questions about the ‘smart grid’ future and inviting them to give their verdict on the plans that are being put in place. Some of the schools may be eligible to participate in the Low Carbon London research trials so the team will be talking to teachers on the day about how they might be able to get involved, particularly if they have Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, heat pumps or photovoltaic panels at their schools.

The youngsters will be invited to play the role of an electrical engineer, using a circuit board to get the lights back on after a fault on the electricity network by rerouting power supplies via alternative circuits. They will also be asked to estimate how much electricity common household appliances use, such as phone chargers, laptops and electric fans, then use a smart meter to check if they are right. In a decade, all the children attending TeenTech will be familiar with smart meters, which will be commonplace in homes to give accurate, daily data on how much electricity we use.

Thanks to the support of partners and corporate sponsors, TeenTech CIC runs regional interactive day events at venues across the UK, introducing teenagers to opportunities in further education and employment. At each event, up to 300 pupils benefit from hands-on exhibits and challenges run by leading organisations in the world of science, engineering and technology. Research from previous events shows this helps teenagers refocus their thinking about school subject choices and consider career paths they never knew existed. The event not only engages pupil imagination; it also helps to encourage new connections between their schools and employers.

Clorise Duporte, a UK Power Networks’ education adviser, said: “Fewer students are currently going to university to study electrical engineering. Getting the pupils interested early on in their education is another way for us to help fill the skills gap in our industry.

“We want to inspire the next generation of electrical engineers and show them how the subjects they study at school can be used in real jobs in the electricity industry. Some of these pupils are about to choose their subject options. We encourage those with an interest in the energy industry to consider triple science and design and technology as well as to study STEM subjects as far as possible to keep their options open.”

Delivering the reliable power supplies UK Power Networks’ customers need depends on skilled staff with a highly professional approach. This is why the company invests considerable effort in recruiting and developing the next generation of engineers.

UK Power Networks has a range of initiatives to attract and support newcomers to the industry, including apprenticeships, Engineering Development Programme, a graduate development programme and Powering Placements, for undergraduates. For further information visit:   

Notes to editors: 
1. UK Power Networks distributes power to a quarter of Britain’s population through its electricity networks serving London, the South East and the East of England. The company's 5,000 employees are dedicated to delivering a safe, secure electricity supply to about eight million homes and businesses via its networks of substations, overhead lines and underground cables. 
UK Power Networks distributed the electricity at many venues for this summer’s international sporting events. This year we are investing £360million in our electricity networks and around £1.8billion in the five years to 2015. We are also undertaking trials to ensure our electricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future.
Customers pay their bills to supply companies but UK Power Networks delivers the power across our three areas. The industry regulator Ofgem sets an allowed revenue to distribution companies so that they can maintain safe and reliable electricity supplies. If customers are unfortunate enough to be affected by a power cut or have another issue with the electricity supply to their property, they should contact UK Power

2. Low Carbon London, led by UK Power Networks, is a £30million pioneering learning programme funded by customers through Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and the electricity network operator. Its aim is to use London as a test bed to develop a smarter electricity network that can manage the demands of a low carbon economy and deliver reliable, sustainable low carbon electricity to businesses, residents and communities. The programme will explore how to combine new technology and commercial innovation – such as localised generation, electric vehicles, heat pumps, smart meters, time of use tariffs and responsive demand services – to support a low carbon energy economy. UK Power Networks’ partners on the Low Carbon London programme are Siemens, Logica, EDF Energy, Greater London Authority, Transport for London, National Grid, Institute for Sustainability, Flexitricity, EnerNOC, Smarter Grid Solutions and Imperial College London. More information on Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund is available here:

3. TeenTech is an award winning, industry-led initiative, co-founded by Maggie Philbin (BBC Tomorrow’s World) and Chris Dodson, OBE, Chairman of the Institute of Directors (South) who worked with Berkshire Education Business Partnerships, companies and business organisations to create a very special experience for young people. The first TeenTech ran in the Thames Valley in November 2008. Today collaboration with technology companies, as well as education, business and professional organisations, has created an immersive, interactive event that is nationwide. In 2012 TeenTech will have run in nine regions, reaching more than 300 schools.