STEM education charity TechFest has appointed oil and gas industry veteran Brenda Wyllie as its new chair.
Ms Wyllie, currently the Northern North Sea and West of Shetland area manager for the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), takes over from energy journalist Jeremy Cresswell in the role.
TechFest aims to encourage young people to choose a career in science, technology, engineering and maths, and illustrate the prevalence of those subjects in everyday life.
Ms Wyllie started her career in the oil and gas sector at 16 years old as an apprentice welder, later studying reservoir engineering in Norway which led to a career in the UK and internationally.
Her role now with the NSTA is linked to helping industry meet its net zero goals and optimise the value of the UK’s oil and gas reserves.
She said: “This is an exciting time to join the TechFest board, the organisation is extremely passionate about what it does and we have already started to strategise how we can maximise its activity.
“From the moment I took my kids to a TechFest summer festival, I was in awe of the ambition and mission of TechFest. The hands-on experiments encourage young people to embrace STEM subjects, completely aligned with my parenting ethos.
“It is amazing to see how young people understand the basic principles far more when they are allowed to have fun. TechFest truly provides STEM accessibility to all ages and I am excited to play a part in it.”
Alongside a year-round programme of education events, TechFest also runs Aberdeen and North-east Scotland’s annual festival of STEM.
Jeremy Cresswell, the emeritus editor of Energy Voice, has retired from the TechFest board, alongside Paul Graham of Shell, Alec Carstairs formerly of EY, Professor Phil Hannahford of University of Aberdeen, and Dr Brian Wilkins and Professor Donald Cairns from Robert Gordon University.
The new board comprised of of Mirela Delibegovic from Aberdeen University, Dr Suzanna Walsh from RGU, Ralph McIntosh from Kellas Midstream, Kirk Miller from Shell, Tom Sanders from EY and Kathryn McKee from BP.
They sit alongside Brenda Wyllie, Claire Keenan from Keenan Recycling and TechFest managing director Sarah Chew.
Yashka Smith previously worked for TechFest from 2010 – 2012 and has returned to the charity as a STEM Lead, focusing on programme development.
Meanwhile Yvonne McLellan, TechFest’s former managing director up until 2011, has also come back to support with the My Energy Future programme sponsored by OPITO.
Managing director Sarah Chew said: “Our new board brings in a wealth of knowledge and experience to help grow and direct our organisation.
“I’m especially pleased to have such a strong female presence within TechFest. Between our board, and the whole TechFest team, it highlights how important it is for women in particular, to get involved in the STEM sector.
“Women are strong leaders, thinkers and innovators and we want to show that anything is achievable as long as you are passionate about what you want to do.
“We’ve made a lot of progress as an industry in breaking down gender barriers but there is plenty work to be done to encourage more young women to pursue a STEM career.”