STEM’s Visit to Teesside University

5 February 2024

It was a pleasure to support Teesside University at their Aviation Conference on 30th and 31st January as part of the CAA STEM programme with the aim of inspiring the next generation of aviation and aerospace professionals.

We supported the University throughout the two-day event, with Sir Stephen Hillier providing the opening keynote speech to a packed auditorium of 170 participants. Sir Stephen then visited some of their engineering and sustainability buildings and met with students for an in-depth discussion about the sector. Sir Stephen said about the event: “Speaking to the students at Teesside University as part of our STEM Programme was a pleasure, and inspiring the next generation of aviators and engineers is vital in securing the future of the aviation enterprise. We need people with the energy, expertise and commitment to grapple with the environmental challenges facing the sector, and through this event, I had the privilege of meeting some of them.”

Following this introduction, the CAA Sustainability Team (Helen Leadbetter, Nic Stevenson, Anirudh Vyas, Abigail Grenfell and Martha Power) then provided the students with a fantastic presentation and interactive workshop on the topic of Sustainability in Aviation. This was developed in partnership with Alison Harris, Bronwyn Fraser, Zuzia Czeladko, Benjamin Heenan and Ali Eastwood.  The presentation highlighted; why sustainability matters to us, what our role is, our strategy and sustainability across the CAA. We talked through a passenger journey from; getting to the airport right through to arriving at their destination and all the elements of sustainability that involves. We then invited the students join in by using slido quiz questions, this caused quite a buzz in the room and even an element of competition from the students! We then presented them with a Dragon’s Den themed activity, three CAA colleagues pitched their suggestion for a more sustainable aviation future; SAF, Hydrogen & Electric. The primary goal of this exercise was to educate and inform the audience of 3 innovative sustainable solutions/technologies which are being researched within the aviation industry. This allowed the audience to engage, challenge and eventually invest in what they believe is the most feasible technology to achieve a more sustainable future aviation industry. While they will be challenged to consider, debate and decide on what they believe ‘the most sustainable solution’ is, the ‘punchline’ at the end was that there is no right answer and these are some of the (interesting and challenging) considerations that the industry is grappling with. 

This workshop was a particular highlight of the conference provoking conversation and debate about the most effective methods for a more sustainable aviation future.  It was wonderful to hear the students perspectives and have them challenge us on the challenges we face on this topic.

On the final day of the conference, the CAA Early Careers Lead Laura Pollard provided a presentation on the opportunities now available in our graduate scheme, apprenticeship programmes, internships and work experience initiatives. In this she was brilliantly supported by Martha, who shared her journey and experiences as one of our graduates in the programme.

The conference was also supported by British Airways, Ryanair, Jet 2, Newcastle International Airport, Talentview Aviation and Teesside International Airport.

A note from Teesside University:

The students will cherish, value  and appreciate their peer-to-peer interactions, a rare opportunity not often afforded to them. Facilitating discussions with such a respected stakeholder in the aviation industry has bolstered their confidence, skills, and broadened their horizons, potentially guiding them towards unforeseen career paths within the aviation sector.

The team enthusiastically embraced educational values and broader academic perspectives. For most of the students, this conference marked their inaugural experience in such a setting. The CAA made the conference an amazing success and it has been a privilege to work with such an open, engaging and embracing organisation.”