Stroud Festival of Manufacturing and Engineering
PUBLISHED: 13:22 11 October 2013 | UPDATED: 14:36 11 October 2013
The beauty of the Cotswolds was built on the back of industry and two hundred years later you’ll find an equally cutting-edge world here, says MP Neil Carmichael, founder of Festomane, the Stroud Festival of Manufacturing and Engineering. Cotswold Life’s Katie Jarvis talked to him about it.
• Katie: Neil, it sometimes feels as if the Cotswolds can’t be mentioned in the same breath as industry, doesn’t it?
Neil: That’s one reason why I thought this festival would be a good idea. In my constituency, one of out every five jobs is in manufacturing and engineering. We have 2-3,000 small and medium-sized firms in the valleys and vale, many involved in manufacturing and engineering. One is making parts of the landing gear for Airbus airliners; we’ve got a firm making parts for Formula 1 racing cars. Others are experimenting in new technologies, designing light aeroplanes that could eventually be powered by electric batteries. We need to celebrate and build on this area’s heritage.
• Katie: One of the key aims of the festival is to encourage school pupils to consider a career in the industry. How are you going to do that?
Neil: We need STEM subjects promoted in schools – science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and engineering is such a broad subject – civil, electrical, motor, aviation and so on. We’ve got to recalibrate our education system so it’s preparing people properly for the jobs that the world of industry is crying out for. So we need a much better interface between schools and business - and that is one of the key objectives of the festival.
• Katie: You’ve got some hands-on projects for local children to get involved in…
Neil: The Green Goblin Challenge will see years 5s and 6s [9-11-year-olds] building an electric car to be raced around Stroud College. There’s the Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge [11-16-year-olds], focusing on the power of mathematics in design-technology. And there’s the Pneumatics Challenge [14-18-year-olds], about using compressed air. Last year, over 300 children participated in our activities. One of the projects was the Airbus build-a-plane project with K’NEX, where you could see young children really understanding the manufacturing process. I also enjoyed the milk carton sculptures they designed from milk cartons.
• Katie: What else will be taking place this year?
Neil: There is a major exhibition in Stroud Subscription Rooms [November 11 and 12], and we’ve key speakers, such as Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business.
Our Sustainability day is built around activities in Stroud College with Kevin McCloud. There will also be sessions on exporting to China, a key-target market.
We need to encourage small firms to grow, not only for their own long-term economic success but also so they can contribute to our drive for improved exports.
• Katie: What is the one most important message you want to get across from the Festival?
Neil: We need to get across the enormous value attached to being an engineer. The things they do affect everybody on a daily basis.