STEM at Rooks Heath

STEM activity at Rooks Heath College

SEMTA (Sector Skills Council for the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Sectors) has identified that almost 30,000 highly skilled scientists and engineers are needed every year over the next seven years to ease shortages and replace an ageing work force. See

STEMNET is an organisation who aims to help schools get the message across about the benefits of a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. See

Rooks Heath were very privileged that in September, STEM ambassadors took time out from their busy lives to talk to members of year 12 and 13 about their careers and job opportunities in their specialisms.

Here are brief biographies for some of the STEM ambassadors:

John Davies has mostly been an engineer, programmer, manager and consultant in IT and mobile networking. He’s all but retired now but does occasional freelance work. He is an active volunteer in IT-related things such as STEMnet ( and is a trustee at LASA (


He was the first person in his family to go to university. He graduated in Electronics from Liverpool University and his first job was in space technology at the Stevenage company which is now Astrium ( where he worked on the early ideas for the Hubble Space Telescope. He later designed and implemented software for national academic networks ( at Edinburgh and London Universities. He also fitted in a master’s degree in Computer Science from Manchester University. John has done work in lots of engineering and technology areas ranging from international standards for text messaging through to helping with start-ups of small companies. He was a sales/technical consultant in mobile networking at companies such as Orange and Sema Group (now Mavenir Systems, Most recently, John was Programme Manager of iT4Communities ( and Chief Technology Officer at Movirtu (                                                                                                                            His LinkedIn profile is at his web address below:                                                               email:                                                                                                          skype: johninghamdavies                                                                                                              profile:

Laurence Cox has a BSc in Physics (Sheffield University) and a PhD in Astronomy (Hatfield Polytechnic- now University of Hertfordshire). After completing his PhD he worked for Sira Institute Ltd, where his achievements included a Queen’s Award-winning infrared mechanical stress measurement system and a UK Primary Standard for NPL. He later worked for Marconi Defence Systems (at Stanmore) and DERA/Dstl (Farnborough), where he received an International Research Collaboration Award for his work on the propagation of laser beams through hot turbulent gases. He is currently working part-time as an Electro-optical Consultant for Thales Optronics at Basingstoke. e-mail:

Priyank Patel MEng MIET MIRSE achieved 10 B/C’s in his GCSE’s and went on to do a National Diploma in Engineering at Richmond College. He then graduated from University of Surrey in 2007 having read Electronics with Satellite Engineering. Priyank had numerous offers (there being a shortage of engineers in industry), but he chose Network Rail to start his career and graduate training. He carried out a range of roles from Project Engineering to Maintenance Managment. He recently joined London Underground as an Asset Performance Development Manager, where he works on the new driverless trains’ concept as announced by the Mayor of London earlier this year.

Adam Noden is a third year Civil Engineering Student at UCL. To get into this degree he studied Maths, Further Maths and Physics at A-level. Through the ICE QUEST scholarship he has done two summer work placements on major construction sites including Heathrow Terminal 2B and Crossrail Liverpool Street. His aim is to become chartered within four years of graduation and hopes to continue working on major Civil Engineering projects around the world.

Andy Smale has a Computer Science degree from the University of London and has worked in IT for 34 years, starting as a programmer and progressing through Project Management to being responsible for Contact Centre IT strategy and projects for GE Capital EMEA. He has been involved in STEM for 2 years and mainly does careers events.                                                     

Richard Simon – IBM – Summary career: Richard started his fascination with IT in the 1980s, during the home computing boom and the BBC’s Computer Literacy Project, which culminated in him purchasing the BBC Micro home computer and consequently taking Computer Studies at school.  This passion continued after he left school and worked for a local computer store for about a year, expanding his understanding and interacting with customers.  His first real job was working for a small software company that developed databases for local authorities and councils – his role was to offer telephone technical support.  He then worked for Victor Technologies (which became GRiD Systems) – here he got involved with programming and working on hand-held and pen-based computers (the tablets of their time!)  This involved prototyping applications, programming in many languages (such as C, C++, Assembler, PASCAL and BASIC) and delivering projects for various customers.  His brush with PC technology came when he joined AST Computers, after they acquired GRiD Systems.  Focussing on portable products, such as pen-based computers and laptops, he worked in a pre-sales technical capacity, helping customers implement AST products into their projects and roll outs.  About 15 years ago, Richard joined IBM and he’s worked there since, in various roles, ranging from pre-sales consultancy, to project management, to systems management consultant, in their hardware, software and services divisions. In 2008, he was nominated for a British Computer Society (BCS) Award by his IBM manager, for outstanding skills in consultancy on various projects.  Richard only recently joined the STEMNET Programme and this event was his first.  He found it very rewarding so he’d like to work with our college again in the future, on similar events.

Debora Catherall started her career after leaving Imperial College, London University, as a scientist looking for novel medicines to treat infections like flu.  She moved into the computer science arena and has spent many rewarding years implementing new systems, not only in pharmaceutical but also banking, management consultancy and advertising companies.

Pictures from the activity can be seen below:

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Priyank is in the top right photograph

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Richard Simon is in the above picture on the left.

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John Davies can be seen on the bottom left photograph (just the back of his head unfortunately)

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