Over 400 primary and secondary school pupils in Scotland will have the chance to hear from Tim Peake, thanks to The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI.

The organisation is running STEM events in Aberdeen and Edinburgh featuring the British astronaut as part of DataFest20.

Robert Gordon University will host the first DataFest event in Aberdeen on 18 March which is open to S1 – S3 pupils and young members of coding clubs from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

The event in Edinburgh will be held at RBS Gogarburn on 19 March which is open to P4 – P6 pupils and young members of coding clubs from across the capital.

Schools and coding clubs will be able to put forward up to five pupils to attend the event. A competition to win the honour of hosting a question and answer session on stage with Tim Peake at the events is also being organised and details will be announced next month. 

DataFest celebrates and showcases Scotland’s role in data science and AI on the international stage. Now in its fourth year, DataFest has grown to become the UK’s largest data festival. Running from the 9 – 20 March DataFest20 will have multiple events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen. 

Last year’s DataFest attracted 4,000 attendees at 62 events across Scotland. Almost 500 students from 23 schools were involved, participating in Women in Data science and other events aiming to encourage pupils to consider STEM careers. This year’s theme #BeyondData will focus on the real impact data and AI can have on people’s lives.

Jude McCorry, Head of Business Development at The Data Lab, said: “Data itself isn’t what is valuable, it’s what we do with it to lead innovation, see what is possible, create an impact and drive more benefits from data. For Scotland to be a global leader in data innovation, we must do more to encourage our young people to take up STEM subjects and careers.

“Since his successful International Space Station mission in 2016, Tim Peake is on a new mission to inspire young people about STEM and we are thrilled to be welcoming him to DataFest STEM Edinburgh.”

A former test pilot and British Army Air Corps officer, Tim Peake is a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut. He finished his 186-day Principia mission working on the International Space Station for Expedition 46/47 when he landed back on Earth 18 June 2016. Through his work with the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO), the British astronaut has been helping to attract more young people into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and the space industry, which generates billions of pounds for the economy and is creating 42,000 jobs.

Tim said: “Space is a fascinating subject that has an incredible capacity to inspire. It is a fantastic context in which to excite young people about STEM subjects and the places a STEM career could take them.

“Space has always been at the forefront of technology and engineering, which is never more relevant than today. As we look to return to the Moon and explore Mars, technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing and virtual reality are making our future missions possible.”

Ms McCorry added: “DataFest20 will be bigger, more successful and more collaborative than ever and hosting the STEM event with Tim Peake in Aberdeen underlines our commitment to championing Scotland’s rapidly growing data science community. It’s also fitting that Europe’s most famous astronaut is coming to Europe’s energy capital where there are many parallels between space and the offshore industry, both of which require sophisticated technology, engineering, robotics and, increasingly, digitalisation and AI.” 

The purpose of DataFest20 is to bring together data leaders, practitioners, industry, public sector and education to collaborate and discuss how data science and AI can benefit society and drive innovation.

Iain Patrick of Royal Bank of Scotland added: “As a bank we work closely with schoolchildren across Scotland to help encourage young people to think about a future which embraces STEM and the exciting direction a life involving science, maths and data can take.

“Tim Peake is an example of just how far it can take you and we are delighted to be able to host this event with Data Lab here at Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters in Gogarburn.

“Events like this are important in encouraging young people to consider a future involving technology and help illustrate that today, technology and data impacts every business sectors, from communications and marketing to health and inclusion.”

For more information and early bird tickets, visit: https://www.datafest.global/