Monday, 30 October 2017

A visit from Ian Taylor (Alumni)

Written by Ciaran & Duncan - Year 9 student reporters 

On Tuesday 10th October 2017, we received the visit of Mr. Ian Taylor, who was a pupil at our school (Whitley Abbey School) back in the years 1956-1963.

Later on we realised that Mr Ian Taylor was an MP (Member of Parliament) for 23 years until 2010. He was also the Minister for Science and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry for four years from 1994-1997. We all were amazed to listen to the inspiring jobs Mr Taylor has done over the years.

In his talk, the audience were the lucky Year 9, 10 and Post 16 students. The topic of the talk was STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

The first slide was a picture of Jonathan Ive.

Ian explained that Jonathan Ive is a British designer, and is now responsible for Apple products including iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. From his humble beginning, in 1988, Jonathan was awarded with two 'RSA Student Design Awards'. Sitting in the audience we felt overwhelmed with pride, as being Whitley Academy, we are part of the 'RSA Academies'. For your information, 'RSA' stands for the Royal Society of the Arts.

Afterwards, Ian shared with us the email he received from Professor Brian Cox. It was about what inspired Brian to become a scientist and how important the STEM subjects should be to the students.

It was then fascinating to get to know that the technology used by the McLaren Formula One for its drivers have been trialled at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. It is for monitoring the young patients’ heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen levels so that early warning signs of problems could be recognised. Wow!

We then listened as Ian explained about the Lunar Mission One, which is a mission to dig 100m into the moon's surface. After filling our minds with so many interesting facts and information, Ian went on to answer some questions our students had on their minds.


Q    Who is the most influential person you have ever met?
A    Helen Sharman as she was not only the first English person in space but also the first female in space.

Q    What has been your favourite job so far?
A    Being the Minister for Science of the UK. 

Q    What do you think the next step is for science?
A    I believe that we need to find a new anti-biotic as viruses are now becoming immune to them.

Q    What got you interested in science?
A    The fact that we could go to space and explore it.

Q    When will the first self-driving cars be on the roads?
A    Hopefully within the next 5 years. They will be complicated; however, and will need a lot of technology- not only in the cars but on the roads as well. They will be interesting definitely a  technological advancement.

Q    What subject did you like apart from Science?
A    I liked History and Politics. I also joined the Drama group. But I realised that I was no Tom Cruise (or whoever the hero of the time was). I did realise from this that I liked to project my thoughts though.

Q    What's your opinion on commercial space travel?
A    It will come. You would have to be very rich and probably rather stupid to invest in such a thing but there will be those ready to go for it. Richard Branson already has 3 flights booked for when Virgin Galactic is a working branch of his company!

Mr Ian Taylor ended his talk by saying that he wasn’t trying to get us to be scientists but to work with Science. It is an important part of life and by the year 2022, the UK alone requires 2,000,000 more scientists.

We still vividly remember his words: 

“Scientists don’t just work in a lab or a reserve. They work in everyday jobs such as: teachers, engineers, farmers, technicians and so many more.”