Volunteer profile: Shane Kelly

With over 400 schools registered for a free school visit from an engineer, we caught up with some of the volunteers to talk about why they volunteer to visit schools.

What’s your name and how do you usually spend your days?    

Shane Kelly and I’m a software engineer currently working in the telecoms industry. I spend my day designing the next generation of unified communications applications. 

How and why did you get involved with STEPS?

When I was in school I was exposed to very little in the way of engineering. I wasn’t aware of the opportunities that were out there.  I wanted to go back to my old secondary school and provide some information to the students about engineering and offer them an opportunity to ask me questions about the profession. 

What type of volunteering have you done with the STEPS programme?

I’ve done a mix of secondary and primary school visits – 5th year and transition year in second level, and from 1st - 6th class at primary level. 

Did the students participate and interact? 
I would generally deliver a presentation for 30 minutes or so and then run a short activity with the class to design a computer program via Scratch.
I find it a really rewarding experience. The students are very enthusiastic about technology and engineering. You generally get overloaded with questions and it is very refreshing to see such unbridled enthusiasm about your industry. 

As a volunteer, what benefits do you get?

It helps to improve your presentation and communication skills. You need to be able to pitch your presentation at different levels depending on the age group and ensure that it remains interactive – the children won’t be shy about letting you know if you’ve lost their attention!

What advice/encouragement would you give to someone who's thinking of volunteering?  
Don’t hesitate about volunteering. You will get more out of it than you put in. But one word of caution – prepare well before your first visit as you won’t have any time to review notes or read slides once you stand in front of a class.