On Tuesday 12 June three lucky UTC Portsmouth students visited London to attend a debate and lunch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Engineering. The trip was organised by Rod Edwards, a Governor at UTC Portsmouth, who has been taking Portsmouth students to these events for the last six years.
Sam Richardson, Jordan Waller and Ewan Graham travelled up to London with Rod and three other Portsmouth students. On arrival at Westminster Hall they were met by Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South. He spent over an hour with the students, giving them a personal tour of Parliament, including a walk through St Stephen’s Hall, the Central Lobby, the main debating chamber of the House of Lords, the Royal Gallery and the Royal Robing Room. Stephen then took them through the Members Lobby up to the galleries of the House of Commons, where they heard MPs questioning Government Ministers on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The students then returned to the House of Lords for drinks and a lunch on the terrace. During lunch Lord Broers, chairman of the APPG for Engineering and a past president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, introduced Stephen Metcalfe MP, the Government Envoy for the ‘Year of the Engineer 2018’ and Chi Onwurah MP. Chi, an Electrical Engineering graduate from Imperial College, is currently the Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy. She spoke about the wider social aspects of engineering, from providing clean water in the Third World through to her work as an engineer rolling out the first GSM network in Nigeria. After their talks, Lord Broers introduced two graduates from Rolls-Royce and Bosch, who talked about their projects and their career aspirations. The UTC Portsmouth students joined in the Q&A session, asking questions about the importance of engineering in the UK and how politicians see engineers.
The trip was an inspirational day for the students, giving them a unique view of Parliament in action as well as the opportunity to meet and talk to MPs and members of the House of Lords. The day followed on from previous UTC Portsmouth student attendance at similar APPG debates, on the practicalities of charging electric vehicles and preventing huge data breaches. (Previous APPG lunch debates have covered subjects from medical imaging, AI, decarbonising our energy supplies and biomedical engineering through to Sir Ben Ainslie talking about the engineering challenges of the America’s Cup competition). Attendance at such events is part of the core enrichment activities at UTC Portsmouth and is important to broaden the horizons of the students.