Six leading food and drink manufacturers along with Festo teamed up to offer many exciting engineering activities to the 75,000 young visitors attending this year's Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham (13-16 March). The Big Bang Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people in the UK.
Brought together by the Food & Drink Federation and the industry's careers campaign ‘Taste Success – A Future in Food’, Festo joined a stellar line up of food and drink brands: Coca-Cola Enterprises, Mars Chocolate UK, Mondelez International, Nestlé UK, PepsiCo UK and Premier Foods.
Visitors to the ‘Taste Success’ stand were able to take part in a wide array of activities including a chance to operate the Festo Bionic Handling Assistant - a cutting-edge lightweight robot designed to imitate the movement of an elephant's trunk giving an insight into what factories of the future might look like. Also activities such as finding out why covering Maltesers in chocolate is so tricky, finding out how Coca-Cola ensures its production line is always in tip top shape, how corn is turned into Monster Munch feet, how a cocoa bean becomes a chocolate bar and playing the Kit Kat production game to see how quickly machinery breakdowns can be fixed to keep the chocolate flowing.
There were opportunities for visitors to speak to top level food and drink engineers, graduates and apprentices about what they get up to in their jobs and what it's like to be an engineer working in some of the UK's top companies.
Hanne Christensen, Taste Success campaign manager at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “We were absolutely delighted to have so many great food and drink manufacturers joining us to promote our industry at this year's Big Bang Fair. We had a fantastic range of exciting activities and demonstrations for young people to enjoy, as well as engineers, apprentices and graduates on the stand every day to answer questions.
“Skills in engineering are in huge demand in the food and drink industry – they are vital to helping us increase efficiency and productivity. This September marks the first intake of students on to the industry's MEng Food Engineering course at Sheffield Hallam University. This new degree will create a pool of specialist engineers equipped to help us meet future challenges. It is also essential that we tell the next generation about the exciting opportunities available.”
“Attending events such as the Big Bang Fair is a fantastic way to engage with young people and to give them 'hands-on' experience of some of the many exciting things we do in our industry. We hope that being at this event with so many great employers will inspire more young people to consider a future career in our industry.”
More on the Festo Bionic Handling Assistant
More on the 'Taste Success - A future in food' careers campaign