STEM Ambassador Profile
Name: Dan Perry
Organisation: Boiler & Plant Solutions, Alstom Power Thermal Services UK
Job Title: Mechanical Engineer
Area of work or study
The mechanical engineering team that I work in designs pressure systems for different parts of all thermal power stations (gas, coal, oil, nuclear). These might be the main steam systems that transfer the energy from the boiler to the steam turbine or auxiliary heating, cooling or lubrication systems. The work involves determining the temperature and pressure of the process and designing the system with suitable pumps, pipes and valves. Projects are varied and normally involve an inspection on site, so I travel around a lot. I enjoy doing interesting maths on a day to day basis.
How did you decide to work in your chosen field?
I knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer and applied to many fields in my final year at university. I chose the power industry because people need energy. I'm interested in implementing the low carbon energy infrastructure that will meet the challenges of climate change and reduced resources.
A level: Maths and Physics (grade B). University: Mechanical Engineering with Honours in Mechanical and Automotive Engineering (MEng).
What attracted you to the STEM Ambassadors scheme?
Through my company I devised a project to build Lego wind turbines for the company stand at the Imagineering Science Fair for 7 - 11 and 11+ year olds. I greatly enjoyed the experience. It's very important to me to promote engineering. I find it a rewarding and enjoyable job and there's a huge shortage of young people choosing to work as engineers.
What do you like about being a STEM Ambassador?
I like spending time interacting with young people. They have a lot of energy and a different viewpoint. It's also something different to do. This year I'm hoping to help young people design racing cars, which is something I did at University. I enjoy sharing my experiences and knowledge.
What do you see as the benefits of the STEM Ambassadors scheme?
The benefit is that I hope young people will understand that science careers are rewarding and enjoyable and also what steps they need to take to achieve a STEM career. I strongly believe this would be a benefit to them and to the UK as a whole.
STEM Ambassadors activities
Science Fairs- Maths in the Malls, George Stephenson High School ASSECs Celebration Event. Workshops- Cafe-sci at Dame Allan's, STEM Day at Thomas Hepburn. Presentations- Enjoyable Science and Engineering Careers at Dame Allan's.
At science fairs you just help out and try and get kids to think about science depending on the task. Sometimes they ask questions. Presentations gives you a chance to convey a particular message. For me this is that I enjoy my job and I think STEM careers are extremely worthwhile. Workshops require some preparation about some of the points you might cover. Mine are about energy/electricity usage and what effect this might have on carbon emissions and climate change. There's no correct answer, I'm interested to know what the young people think and I help them formulate their ideas on the topics by asking them questions or to prepare some different ideas in teams.
What was the reaction of the young people you worked with?
The young people I have worked with have always been positive and polite. If you ask them questions, even when reluctant, they will give an answer and when they're interested they will ask you questions back.
What advice would you give to young people wanting to work in your field?
You need to get a good understanding of the basics of maths and physics (minimum grade C). Always ask the teachers if you need help. Sometimes it can be hard at school because you can't see how maths and physics will be used. This becomes clear at University and it's fascinating to understand the maths and physics that accelerate cars to 200 mph or stop aeroplanes falling out of the sky. I continue to learn everyday so young people shouldn't be put off by thinking that when they work as a professional it will be too difficult. I'm supported by experienced senior engineers, who have an input into nearly everything that I work on.
I enjoy my job because I use maths and physics every day to design things that work and are relied upon to supply millions of people with electricity. I have a good work life balance and work is varied. I worked hard at school and university and I feel that this was definitely worth it.