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Sharing our love of STEM at Cheltenham Science Festival

Corporate Headquarters
Jul 15, 2022 | 3 MINUTE Read

Prior to the pandemic, L3Harris had a presence at the Cheltenham Science Festival in 2019, a feat made possible by our Intelligence and Cyber International – EMEA team in Tewkesbury. Having proven a popular stand with children and families, the decision was made to return for a second year; a great opportunity for us to reengage with the local community following the easing of restrictions. 

Our stand took STEM to the next level

An initiative driven by the business’ STEM, or ‘critical talent’, social value pillar, 2022’s event saw us located in the Arcade tent, a reimagined version of what was once the Festival’s ‘Cyber Zone’. This tent was created to highlight the creativity, communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills so critical to cyber innovation. As well as several exhibitor stands, the tent also contained nostalgic arcade games from Popeye to Gauntlet and was visited by almost 25,000 people during the week.

This theme in mind, the stand planning team agreed that breathing new life into 2019’s ‘Crack the Code’ safe-cracking activity would be an ideal fit. It gave visitors the chance to test their STEM-related knowledge by answering quiz questions that varied in difficulty depending on age and education, and allowed them the option to work either independently or as a team to gain the code to the safe. What’s more, our leaderboard added a competitive edge, encouraging enthusiastic visitors to go through multiple attempts to move their way up through the rankings.

2022’s stand also introduced a Cipher Challenge – four different ciphers for visitors to decrypt with varying levels of difficulty, from ‘Easy’ to ‘Impossible’. This was extremely well-liked and resulted in many visitors excitedly celebrating their successes each time a cipher was decoded. A few plucky challengers were even determined to try their hand at the ‘Impossible’ cipher, for which they needed to take their slip home as it required the help of a computer.

Moreover, an interactive and informative digital experience with games and trivia was created for the event, giving attendees the chance to get to know our business better via an accessible QR code, and a looping video provided an overview of L3Harris ICI’s core capabilities, from our next-generation electronic warfare architecture CORVUS to our multi-domain situational awareness Drone Guardian solution.

A resounding success

The festival offered a fantastic opportunity to raise further awareness of our business within the local Gloucestershire community and to reconnect and engage with schools, enabling us to better promote STEM and an interest in cyber-related careers among young people. Throughout the event, the L3Harris stand played host to a wide variety of ages, from a three-year-old all the way up to a sixty-seven-year-old retiree. We received universal praise for our presence from students, families and teachers alike, with our stand once again proving to be exceedingly popular.

“L3Harris was the first stand we attended and one of our students’ scores was top of their leaderboard for ages,” Mrs Vivienne Whiting, Assistant Headteacher for Tewkesbury School said. “That beaming smile from her was the highlight of an already fantastic day. Those L3Harris staff won't even realise what an important moment that was for her!”

With a bag of sweets the ultimate goal once the combination safe had been opened, it was unsurprising that upwards of 3,500 people and over 30 schools visited our stand alone.

It’s not game over

“We were thrilled by the outcome of our attendance at the festival,” Al Boulton, Software Engineering Manager and part of the stand team stated. “Not only did it give us the chance to get in front of our local community to promote the importance of STEM subjects, but offered our engineers the opportunity to step outside of the office and do something a little different from their day-to-day roles.”

Based on the success of this year’s festival, it’s very likely L3Harris will look to participate again in the near future. Until then, our critical talent pillar team will continue to work hard in reaching out to local schools, colleges and universities for further opportunities to promote and share our love of all things STEM.