Welsh Students create ‘mask force’ in STEM programme

Ysgol David Hughes students explore innovative face covering technology as part of STEMCymru programme

School children from Ysgol David Hughes are exploring the innovation behind Virustatic’s face covering technology as part of the flagship Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW) STEMCymru programme.

Virustatic, based in M-Sparc, Anglesey, is joined by other leading organisations, such as JCB, TATA Steel and Mott MacDonald in this year’s programme, which is funded by the European Social Fund.

EESW is a non-profit, educational charity which has been in existence since 1989, it operates to show young people how valuable a career in STEM can be. It brings together leading industry organisations and young talent to helps secure the prosperity of science, technology and engineering by encouraging and supporting the aspirations of students in North Wales.

Paul Hope, Chief Technical Officer at Virustatic, said: “We were very pleased when we were approached to be part of this year’s programme. Science and Engineering have been my life and the Virustatic team are happy to be involved in a scheme that helps inspire wonder in our next generation of scientists and engineers.”

“The programme places a spotlight on STEM careers and also offers the opportunity for students to be part of something very real. We, as well as the other organisations involved, have offered an opportunity for young adults to make a difference.”

Any student involved in the EESW programme will enhance their skill set as well as improving their chance of employability. Some strands also offer the chance to obtain a CREST award which is officially endorsed by UCAS, furthermore students just like those from Ysgol David Hughes also have the opportunity to use their projects in the enterprise and employability challenge of the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Paul continued: “Our involvement has given the students a chance to explore the technology behind the Virustatic Shield. My whole working life has been dedicated to finding ways to prevent and potentially cure pandemics after losing my own Grandfather to Spanish flu. The Shield is a culmination of over 10 years of research and is a product that’s very relevant to the here and now – and is one we hope will inspire the student’s STEM related thinking skills.

“I feel very proud that some of the very best young minds will be exploring our technology and the features and benefits of masks and face coverings more generally. We can’t wait to see what ideas they have.”

Each organisation that is involved in the programme sets a group of students a project brief before they are asked to draft a written report, produce a video presentation and experience a Dragon Den’s style Q&A session.

Alice Murray, North Wales Coordinator, said: “We want to say a huge thank you to Virustatic for being involved this year. Their participation has created quite the stir. Because so many students wanted to work on the project, we have had to create two groups to fulfil the demand.

“Our programme gives students the chance to experience real-world situations and explore the challenges and developments that surrounds the STEM industry. Working on a face covering, which is very much a product of the world we find ourselves in, has helped students see how vitally important the STEM industry can be and how technology and science can quite literally protect and save lives. Our gratitude goes out to everyone at team Virustatic, and we can’t wait to see the end results of the student’s work.”

Students will take part in an online Awards Presentation this Thursday, 8th July.

Paul ended: “The team at Virustatic wishes Ysgol David Hughes the best of luck!”