Guest speaker Dr Matt Perkins encouraged our astronomers and physicists to reach for the stars when he delivered an inspiring talk.
Dr Perkins is the CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), a spin-off company of Surrey University, which specialises in designing, manufacturing and launching cost-effective satellites for a variety of applications and customers.
His visit was organised by the Speakers4Schools programme, which aims to facilitate the process of getting high calibre speakers into schools to engage and motivate students. His main area of interest is the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects; in particular demonstrating to students that there are real world (or in SSTL’s case ‘out of this world’!) applications.
Dr Perkins spent almost two hours with 40 KJS students - A2 Physicists and GCSE Astronomers. His talk encompassed the general uses of space-based technology for communications, GPS and mapping applications; SSTL’s role such as designing and launching satellites for the USA, Russia, China and a host of other nations including Nigeria and Algeria who are part of the new African space race; some of the ‘BIG’ science projects such as Hubble, James Webb telescope, Mars rovers and the Rosetta mission to land on a comet. The students were amazed to see how a group of engineers at SSTL had re-engineered a mobile phone to control a nano-satellite (a 30cm device), which is now in orbit around the Earth.
The second part of Dr Perkins’ visit was spent chatting to students, who were able to probe him further with questions such as “So, where do you get the intercontinental ballistic missiles from to launch your satellites?” or “I’d really like to work for you. How can I do my work experience at SSTL?”
This Speakers4Schools event was an informative, motivating and rewarding experience for everyone who was involved.