The crowd at the March 15-17 Big Bang Fair at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham nearly doubled — from 31,000 in 2011 to more than 60,000 this year. Saudi Aramco’s involvement in the fair was simple: to help inspire and thrill the next generation of scientists.
The fair is considered the largest free celebration of science and engineering aimed at young people in the United Kingdom.
U.K. leaders see an increasing need for more people to be trained in science, technology, engineering and math – or the “STEM subjects.” Participants from 11 to 18 years old from throughout the U.K. entered the fair’s National Science and Engineering Competition by completing a project in any of the STEM subjects.
One of the prizes was the Stockholm International Prize, supported by Saudi Aramco. The prestigious prize was scooped up by 18-year-old Mariam Zaidi from North London and awarded by Ali Ashban, managing director of Saudi Petroleum Overseas Ltd. (SPOL) at the awards ceremony.
Zaidi impressed the judges with her project, which looked into how the aorta and pulmonary arteries develop in embryos. Zaidi said she wanted to be a doctor specializing in medical research.
“I was really happy to receive the award,” she added. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I’m really grateful to Saudi Aramco, and this opportunity will definitely open up different opportunities for my career.”
With a constant queue of visitors eager to explore its contents, the Saudi Aramco exhibit stand was a hit. “It’s very interesting as I find oil fascinating. We use it in our lives so much and we are learning about it in school,” said 15-year-old Matthew Evars from Saint Martin’s School in Wales.
Educating people on aspects of the energy business and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a team of Saudi Aramco-sponsored students living in Birmingham was on hand to help manage the huge crowds.
“It was very fulfilling volunteering at the Big Bang,” said Jumana Almajed, a female business computing student from Aston University. “I was only supposed to be volunteering two days out of the three, but I volunteered for all three because it was such a rewarding experience.”
SPOL’s Ashban said the company’s participation was more than worthwhile. “We are very proud to be a part of the Big Bang and supporting development of the world’s best engineers and scientists of the future.”