STEM students invited to take on Inmarsat Summer Challenge

17 June 2016: For the third year running, Inmarsat is inviting students to take part in its Summer Strategy Challenge.

The programme gives students from City and Islington College’s Sixth Form College and Centre for Applied Sciences the chance to attend six weekly workshops at Inmarsat’s City Road, London headquarters on a particular challenge.

City-&-Islington-College Students from the 2015 Summer Strategy Challenge receive their certificates in the Network Operations Room at Inmarsat

This year’s theme is environmental – the annual phenomenon of the Indonesia haze, created by agricultural fires, that causes serious health hazards across the South East Asia region.

STEM knowledge

The Summer Strategy Challenge forms part of Inmarsat’s promotion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education.

The company recognises that encouraging young people to acquire STEM knowledge and skills is crucial to the UK maintaining its position in an increasingly scientific and technological world.

The new batch of sixth formers visited Inmarsat on 15 June to be briefed on their challenge – to look at how to prevent the haze while considering the political, social, cultural and economic ramifications.

Investigative research

Tom Johnson, Head of Research at Earthsight, a non-profit organisation that carries out investigative research to highlight environmental and human rights issues, tasked them with considering what types of data could support action to crack down on the fires, and how it could be gathered.

He explained how an explosion in large scale agriculture in Indonesia has led to the annual dry season haze problem when rainforest is cleared for palm oil plantations and logging.

The 2015 haze covered hundreds of kilometres and was blamed by the government for 500,000 cases of respiratory tract infections as people spent weeks breathing in hazardous pollutants.

Top universities

Over the next six weeks the students will work with Inmarsat experts to come up with appropriate applications and receive support on structuring and presenting their case to a panel at the end of the programme.

Students who took part in the earlier challenges – looking at the future of aviation connectivity and the digital divide in less developed parts of the world – have credited it with helping them gain places at top tier universities.

James Cemmell, Head of Government Affairs at Inmarsat, said: “‘The past two groups of C&IC students (2014, 2015) that we’ve worked with have performed exceptionally, addressing very complicated issues such as the digital divide in Africa and the future of aero regulation post-MH370.

Critical role

“This year we’re looking to stretch the group by tackling head on probably the world’s most complicated environmental problem, with devastating effects across Asia and unparalleled contributions to carbon emissions.

“Inmarsat connectivity has a critical role to play but there are many human factors that make this far more than just a technology fix’.