Doncaster apprentice helps young people build STEM skills with the FIRST LEGO League

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A Doncaster apprentice recently volunteered at the UK’s biggest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competition to encourage young people to engage with STEM.

Ben Ashmore, aged 20, from Derbyshire works at the Amazon receive centre on Doncaster’s iPort as an automation engineer apprentice.

In his spare time, he is involved with the FIRST LEGO League, an international competition that introduces young people to scientific and real-world challenges using LEGO.

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This year, Ben’s long-term involvement with the FIRST LEGO League saw him visit the Harrogate Convention Centre to commentate on the event and provide extra logistical support to its organisers.

Ben Ashmore with youngsters Bobby Brown and Kyle De La BertoucheBen Ashmore with youngsters Bobby Brown and Kyle De La Bertouche
Ben Ashmore with youngsters Bobby Brown and Kyle De La Bertouche

Ben was interested in STEM throughout school, leading him to choose both maths and physics as A-level subjects. It was when he was faced with the choice of what to do after leaving school, however, that drew his attention to the apprenticeship opportunities at Amazon that would allow him to utilise what he’d learned during his studies.

Speaking on why he decided to join Amazon, Ben said: “I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in STEM, and I knew that taking part in an apprenticeship programme would enable me to get some hands-on experience of the industry whilst learning new things.

"The decision to go with Amazon’s apprenticeship programme over others was easy for me as it was a big company with endless opportunities available – it really stood out.”

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He added: “Learning theory, having the ability to apply it physically and getting access to the direct context in which things work is extremely insightful, especially with STEM careers. I’m keen to use the experience I get in these areas at Amazon to help me progress.”

From the age of 12 to 16, Ben competed in the FIRST LEGO League, which is where his love of the competition grew. At the age of 16, his team successfully made it through to the international finals in Estonia to compete against teams from all over the world, an achievement he is extremely proud of.

After many years of competing, Ben developed relationships with the team at FIRST LEGO League and took part in a year-long internship with the organisation. When the internship ended, Ben joined Amazon, but has continued to support the annual event hosted by FIRST.

By returning to the FIRST LEGO League, Ben hopes to encourage young people to build skills including strategic thinking, problem-solving and creativity.

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Speaking on the event, Ben said: “I really enjoy attending the FIRST LEGO League. It’s a fantastic day that gives thousands of young people the chance to gain hands-on STEM experience.

“The event is a great opportunity to engage young people and teach them about engineering, robotics and controlled systems in a really fun way. I’m honoured to have been asked to help again this year and to have commentated on a brilliant event.”

Ben continued: “I credit my chosen career path to the FIRST LEGO League as it allowed me to hone the skills I needed at a young age and gave me the confidence to pursue a career in STEM.”

What advice would Ben give to anyone thinking about pursuing a career in STEM? Make the most of opportunities to learn. He said: “Amazon is a place of infinite growth: there are so many opportunities to build skills and progress your career. Make sure to show enthusiasm, be bold and pursue the career you want – a good team will always support you.”

Speaking on Ben and his work with the FIRST LEGO League, Adam Banks, General Manager at Amazon’s Doncaster receive centre , said: “At Amazon, we are passionate about encouraging young people to get involved with STEM and are excited to hear about the brilliant ways the community is engaging young people. We hope Ben’s dedication and success is an inspiration for the young people he encounters to pursue careers at companies like Amazon.”

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