Professor Brian Cox 'astonished' by Northern Ireland students' sense of curiosity

Students in Northern Ireland put "astonishing" questions to Professor Brian Cox as he hosted an event aimed at inspiring the scientists, engineers and inventors of the future.

The broadcaster and professor of particle physics says the foundations already exist in the region to encourage many more young people towards careers in science.

He attended the Science Summer School Northern Ireland alongside educators and influencers from the world of science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths.

"They're all so curious," Professor Cox told UTV. "The questions I got were quite astonishing, ranging from the profound to the absurd actually!

"But it's also about showing these young people there are pathways into - it could be academic science, astronomy.

"Or it could be into the industry, which is growing rapidly in this area, making connections and really trying to show them routes should they want to wander down those roads."

Four hundred young people from local schools took part in the event on Tuesday, which included seminars, discussions and hands-on experiments.

Professor Cox, who was formerly a keyboard player with 90s pop group D:Ream, said Northern Ireland's scientific and engineering heritage is being reawakened, with companies embracing new high-tech industries.

“If you want to work in a very high-tech engineering company there are a lot of them on the doorstep here," he continued.

"Or if you want to be an astronomer, Armagh is one of the world centres for astronomy.

“There is a space sciences industry here. You can build satellites, you can build aircraft, all those things are here, but I think sometimes people just think it is not for them.

“When you talk to the industries here, they are short of people, there are more jobs than there are people who are qualified or trained to do those jobs.

“We need, whether it is basic science or research or industry, to draw talent from as wide a pool as possible.

“This area is making that transformation into the new industries of the 21st century really successfully.

“You see a great deal of high tech engineering companies in this area because the infrastructure is here and the heritage is here.

“Those are things that are very difficult to get. What you see in this region is that the foundations are solid, they stretch back a long time.

“It reminds me of my part of the world, there is a tremendous historic and scientific and engineering heritage that is being reawakened here.”

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