Maggie Philbin OBE

Posted on 01/03/2017 by IED

Maggie Philbin, broadcaster, CEO of TeenTech and IED President, was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for her services to Science, Technology and Engineering. We offer her our warmest congratulations

When Maggie Philbin, broadcaster, CEO of TeenTech and President of the Institution of Engineering Designers, was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for her services to the Science, Technology and Engineering communities, she could scarcely credit that this was for real. Not long after hearing the news, she was tweeting: ‘So concerned it was some kind of a hoax, I phoned them to make sure!!’

“I’m very thrilled and honoured to be awarded an OBE,” says Maggie. “It came as a massive surprise and it’s been very hard to keep quiet about it for the past four weeks.

“I do wish my lovely mum and dad were still alive to share this with me. They would have been so fiercely proud, and I want to give them and my sister Nickie credit for much of what I’ve been able to achieve.

“Many think of me as a science and tech reporter, but, eight years ago, I co-founded TeenTech, which brings the world of technology to life for young people (see panel). I had been struck by the profound lack of information about the opportunities available in tech across a range of sectors and industries. Students, parents, teachers, companies and often government, too, can have narrow perceptions of what might be possible. Far too much talent has been slipping away. I wanted to set up TeenTech to address this.”

STEM SKILLS CHALLENGE

Meanwhile, the IED President was at the heart of a recent panel debate on the causes of the STEM skills gap and whether the problems and the steps needed to address them are the responsibility of parents, educators, government or business.

Chaired by renowned technologist Dr Sue Black and hosted by Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE), panellists also included TV personality Johnny Ball (like Maggie, well known for his work popularising science, technology and maths), as well as Professor Will Stewart, vice president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Marc Waters, HPE’s managing director for the UK and Ireland.One issue addressed was how might more girls understand that they could be brilliant engineers.

“I think that it is by giving them the opportunity to be engineers,” says Maggie Philbin, who, in her role as leader of TeenTech, has been working at the sharp end of this. “No statistics – for example, telling me that if we had X number more women working in engineering and technology that the UK will be better off by £60 billion – are going to convince me to be an engineer. That isn’t enough.

“I have to actually feel that I am really enjoying being an engineer and I want to do it. It’s those opportunities. So we need to find ways of giving students that currently don’t have those opportunities the chance to make discoveries.”

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