£1,000 donation to STEM projects at Hermitage Academy will open up new horizons for pupils

Pupils at the Hermitage Academy, in Chester-le-Street, will benefit from a £1,000 donation towards Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) engagement programmes, awarded by immersive technology specialist, Fuzzy Logic Studio.

The firm took home the top prize in the ‘Innovation and Technology (SME)’ category at the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) Awards 2023. Sponsored by Newcastle University, the category recognised organisations developing cutting-edge innovation or technology solutions to meet current sector demands. The award included a £1,000 donation to a school of its choice in the North East.

The Hermitage Academy, a mixed secondary school and sixth form, is due to set up an extra-curricular club in STEM and the money will go towards getting the initiative off the ground.

Paul Butler, chief executive of the NEAA, said: “At the NEAA we are passionate about skills and promoting the automotive sector as a career choice and this includes starting from school age. When we first launched the NEAA Awards in 2018 we made sure schools and STEM engagement programmes were beneficiaries of the awards, to help raise the profile of STEM careers amongst young pupils.

“Winning companies are invited to select a school or programme to donate their winning funds to. It is so exciting to see how, over the last five years since the funds have been made available, just how many pupils have been inspired to consider a technical career and, in particular, how their interest in the automotive sector has been sparked, and awareness raised, as to the vast opportunities that exist, not just in the direct manufacturing supply chain, but across the service sector.”

For the NEAA awards, Fuzzy Logic Studio put forward its Emerging Skills App – an Augmented Reality (AR) platform created to help close the skills gaps in the UK’s electrification sector. The AR training solution enables learners to practise assembling and disassembling an EV battery, motor and connector using interactive 3D digital models.

It includes a drag-and-drop toolbox, as well as text-to-speech functionality. Visualisation and simulation tools, such as Augmented and Virtual Reality, greatly improve knowledge retention within learning environments.

Peter Routledge, head of learning design at Fuzzy Logic Studio, who was in the teaching profession for many years, said: “We are delighted to play a part in supporting STEM activities at Hermitage Academy and would like to thank the team at the NEAA for making this possible. STEM education encourages students to think critically, analyse data, and explore and develop solutions to complex problems.

“These skills are not only valuable in STEM fields, but also in many other areas of life. Building a future talent pipeline with diverse skills is going to be vital for the UK economy, particularly as we seek to achieve our net zero targets and become a driving force in areas such as automotive electrification.”

Richard Hutchinson, deputy head at The Hermitage Academy, said: “It is really important for students to know the full range of opportunities available to them when they leave education. Whatever we do as educators it is always enhanced by real world experiences and having local businesses talk about actual opportunities makes students listen and often rethink their potential pathways.

“The message is clear to the students, it’s not about maybes and ifs but about actual opportunities, growth, and benefits. The money gratefully received by the Hermitage Academy from NEAA and Fuzzy Logic Studio will be used to fund a 11-14-year-old extra-curricular activity STEM club to purchase equipment and resources to bring the theory to life. The club was requested by the students and now has an opportunity to thrive.”