Plant & Works Engineering
Professor Brian Cox leads action-packed Brooklands Innovation Academy 2023
Published:  09 October, 2023

Brooklands Innovation Academy brought together 400 students aged 12-14 for an action-packed day of hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths education. Led, in person, by Professor Brian Cox CBE OBE FRS, and a key partner in the national Science Summer School programme.

The Academy makes the most of Brooklands’ history of innovation, engineering, entrepreneurship and science. Combining lessons from the past with a vast variety of modern STEM education workshops and insightful guest speakers, it brings together industry leaders, multinational businesses, academics, and innovators. An overarching focus on “learning by doing” has been designed to keep students engaged and light a spark of curiosity, while providing practical experience and guidance for Britain’s future engineers and scientists.

The students were organised into groups of 10 and rotated through a selection of 20 workshops and 6 guest speakers – one of the most comprehensive and expansive single-day education events in the UK. The workshops were hosted by Brooklands Museum and a number of well-known industry partners, including Haleon, McLaren F1, Airbus, British Airways, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and many more. Workshops covered everything from sustainable pipelines to pilot training, safety testing Formula 1 components, fighting plastic pollution, and saving lives with healthcare.

The day’s focus was on preparing for – and addressing – future challenges such as advanced medicine, transportation, sustainable manufacturing, and the climate crisis. The Academy’s guest speakers come from diverse backgrounds, from emergency medicine, academic science, and motorsport engineering through to Kirsty Murphy, the first (and currently, only) female pilot to fly with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic team, The Red Arrows. Both parts of the day included an inspiring address from Professor Cox.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh also participated in the day. The Duchess spoke to the students on the importance of STEM careers and participated in Haleon’s toothpaste workshop with Professor Cox. She also took part in the Heritage Skills Academy workshop and addressed students from Nightingale, the F1 in Schools Team.

Industry support was critical to the Academy’s success in 2022, a theme that has continued this year with extensive involvement and engagement with many businesses. Haleon and the National Health Service are major supporters, along with a host of national and regional scientific organisations and technical businesses. Brooklands Innovation Academy is part of the national Science Summer School programme, co-founded by Professor Brian Cox and Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, and managed by Well North Enterprises.

Professor Brian Cox, Co-Founder of Science Summer School, 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.”

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.”

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”.