RAF 100 STEM Residential

Ayesha Karim, one of our explorers was lucky to be a part of the RAF 100 STEM Residential, here is what she had to say about it:

STEM Residential in RAF Wittering, Peterborough 

Recently, I was offered the amazing opportunity to participate in the RAF 100 STEM residential. I stayed for a week at the RAF Wittering Air Base with 99 other members of uniformed groups ranging from Scouts and Guides to Air and Sea Cadets. 

During the week, I participated in a variety of different workshops and activities, in order to work towards gaining my Silver CREST Award and my Silver Industrial Cadet Award. Our main task throughout the camp was to work on ‘Operation Falcon Relief’, where we had to plan a humanitarian rescue mission to a country hit by an earthquake. I learnt lots of new skills, not only in terms of how to plan a large-scale operation, but also the more practical elements – for example, working outdoors to set up fuel lines for a real aeroplane, learning the mathematics and science behind creating strong and stable structures such as radar towers, and how to cook using ration packs to cater for thousands of people. It was great to be able to apply in practice everything that we were being taught in theory inside the RAF classroom – which is often impossible in school due to a lack of resources. 

Additionally, I met lots of incredible people working both in the RAF and other engineering organisations. We were able to work along side them as they went about their day to day jobs – I was amazed at the level of work required in each specific field. For example, we worked with inspection engineers and used ultrasound to find cracks in the wing of a plane; it took me one hour to cover about 10 square centimetres! I can sincerely say that I do not think I would ever have had the chance to experience anything similar anywhere else – and the opportunity to use all the resources and skills at the disposable of the RAF was incredible. 

Finally, it was a wonderful experience to see how other uniformed organizations worked. Most of the students were air, navy or army cadets, and so generally worked quite differently to scouts. Although it felt quite intimidating at first as I did not know anyone when I arrived at the base on that cold, rainy and windy day in Peterborough – by the time I left I had made friends from all of the UK that I know that I will stay in touch with for many years to come. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime.