News & Insights


Meeting the future of nuclear at the Big Bang Fair 2016

Big Bang 2016- Volunteers

Left to Right: (front) Liz Killen (back) Rob Ward, Dorothy Stonell, Mark Tognarelli, Dave Haslem, David Rupp, Aaron Jones, Viktorija Zaksaite, Mark Gardiner

Volunteers and staff from the Nuclear Institute and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) enjoyed four successful days from 16-19 March educating and inspiring the next generation of nuclear leaders at the UK Big Bang Fair 2016 in Birmingham.

Over 70,000 students aged 7-19 attended this year’s event with thousands of young people visiting the NI stand each day where they were encouraged to engage with technical and mental challenges and learn more about the exciting prospects of a career in nuclear.

Students were able to earn prizes through interactive games and nuclear specific quizzes while getting an insight into the work of a nuclear professional from the NI volunteer team. A thermal imaging camera, glovebox skill testers and a robotic transporter obstacle course helped to recreate some of the conditions and challenges overcome by professionals on nuclear sites each day using STEM based solutions.

Among the prizes that students could collect on the day were copies of the Nuclear Institute’s introduction to nuclear for young people ('The UK Nuclear Industry: How it works and how you can be a part of it'), NI torches, and luminous “radioactive” slap bands.

John Robertson, Chair of the NI Education and Training Committee, was delighted with the response the NI stand received during this year’s event:

IMG 0595“I was really impressed by the whole Big Bang 2016 event and I was particularly pleased that the NI stand was surrounded by young delegates all day, every day! Educating young people about nuclear technology and providing information, advice and guidance on careers in the nuclear sector are central to the role of the NI and important in meeting our charitable objectives. I have no doubt that our presence at Big Bang will have inspired many young people to find out more about the opportunities available in our sector. My personal thanks goes to all our volunteers who, so far as I could see, hardly had a chance to draw breath during the event! My particular thanks goes to Mark Gardner who designed, built and manned our stand and coordinated the volunteers!”

NI member Dorothy Stonell, who volunteered at this year’s event, feels that the Big Bang is a wonderful opportunity to get young people excited about the possibilities a career in a STEM field can offer:

“For me, the main purpose of Big Bang is to make sure students leave our stand feeling like STEM is fun. NI’s stand was designed to be as hands on as possible, showing the range of possibilities that working in our industry brings. From our ‘seeing radiation’ IR camera, to our decommissioning robots, it was all about showing them something new and exciting, and nurturing that spark!”

Elizabeth Killen, NI Membership and Education Officer, who supported lead organiser Mark Gardiner in coordinating the NI stand, praised the nineteen NI volunteers for their herculean efforts across the week:

“For the NI, the Big Bang Fair is an important part of our outreach activities, and something we make sure we do every year. It’s only through the support of our members that we can make this happen – and this years’ volunteers did an incredible job of organising and manning the NI stand with an estimated 3,500 visitors to the stand every day, asking and answering questions about all things Nuclear. Little wonder many of us had lost our voices by week’s end!”

The Big Bang is a nationwide programme of national, regional and local events led by EngineeringUK aiming to engage young people, through hands-on activities, in science, engineering, technology and mathematics. The Big Bang encourages young people to study in these “STEM” fields, and opens their eyes to the multitude of career options available in industry. 

Supported by our members’ contributions and the extraordinary efforts and enthusiasm of our volunteers, the NI attends annually to inspire the next generation of nuclear scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.