A CUTTING-edge Southampton business has been getting children interested in technology with the aid of a camera being used on the BBC’s Autumnwatch.

Leonardo, on Millbrook Industrial Estate, showed off its thermal imaging, electronic circuitry and dynamic mechanical design.

A party of school children were treated to an activity day created by the company and its apprentices Maja Szwarczewska and Emma Crane.

Award winners Maja and Emma have already been recognised for their innovative thinking, which has seen them excel on their apprenticeship programme.

The apprenticeship allows young people to ‘earn while they learn’, so that they work on live projects while studying for qualifications.

Leonardo says many students, parents and teachers are not aware of what a real career in engineering looks like. Many have an outdated “hard hat” image which does not reflect the hi-tech clean environments of 21st century engineering.

The company welcomed pupils from Twynham School in Christchurch, who took “thermal selfies” with the camera adopted by the BBC’s Autumnwatch nature series.

Maja said: “From all the positive feedback I received today, I got the feeling the students really enjoyed getting out of their usual classroom environment and into a real high-tech environment.

“A few years ago it would be hard to believe a camera which could take your photo using thermal images alone, yet today the children were having fun taking ‘thermal selfies’. They could have the ability to go on to create engineering we can only imagine today.”

Leonardo’s STEM team, which included Maja, Emma, Sarah Morris, Sue Vass, Jacques Evans and Joseph Scothmer-Clay, welcomed the students at the start of the engineering day. It began with a site tour of a high-tech clean room that provides a pristine environment for the creation of electro-optic technology used in everything from cameras to satellite sensors. The children were then challenged to improve the design of a Meccano car so it could race faster, testing their designs in a race competition at the end of the activity.

Pupils learned to programme a circuit board so they could construct a security system circuit to open a door. After some infrared thermal selfies, they were given a global view of the business by its head of naval and information systems, Roger Wright.


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