Imperial College London

Imperial students launch educational platform to boost diversity in STEM

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A student learns lab skills in Dr Wayne Mitchell's laboratory

A student in an Imperial College London laboratory

Accelerate aims to support students from underrepresented backgrounds to secure university offers, internships and graduate jobs.

Accelerate is a student-led outreach initiative supporting prospective, current and graduating students. The initiative focuses on supporting those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds who are pursuing STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degrees and career paths, as well as those from other traditionally underrepresented groups.  

The educational platform’s offering includes free advice for students, updates on career opportunities, workshops and a mentorship scheme. The founders hope to reach A-Level students applying for university, as well as current university students and graduates looking to improve employability and secure an internship or job.  

Supportive community  

The Accelerate initiative was co-founded by Jasneet Kaur Taak, a master's student in the Department of Physics and Simran Sangla, who recently graduated with a master’s from the Department of Chemical Engineering

The founders were motivated to develop Accelerate to tackle the challenges often faced by students from underrepresented groups when pursuing an education or career in STEM subjects. These difficulties have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with changes to how students are assessed at school or internships cancelled. 

Accelerate aims to supplement students’ learning, impacted by a lack of in-person teaching and teacher guidance, by providing workshops and other events tailored for those studying STEM subjects. To support with internships and insight days being cancelled or moved online, mentors offer talks to give personal insights into career paths in STEM subjects, such as Medicine or Engineering or other fields such as law and finance.  

The founders’ aim is to create a supportive community of mentors and mentees, and to help students gain access to resources and opportunities they wish they’d had when starting their own academic or career journeys.  

Goals, guidance and support 

Since their launch, more than 40 mentors have joined Accelerate, the majority from leading universities such as Imperial College London, LSE and UCL who have had experiences in organisations such as Goldman Sachs, Rolls Royce, Exxon Mobil and Deloitte.  

Currently over 90% of Accelerate mentees on the tailor-made mentorship scheme come from an underrepresented background. 100% of the mentors are from a BAME background and currently pursuing STEM based subjects. One mentee said: “It is great to be part of the Accelerate Mentorship Scheme. The [Mentorship] scheme has a platform where you can connect with people who have gone through a similar process and achieved a distinctive reputation. This enables people like me to share goals and acquire optimum guidance and support on steps to take in achieving what you desire.” 

Another mentee added: “I am so glad I signed up to Accelerate’s Mentorship Scheme! I have been given so much advice from my mentor, which will help me with grad job applications. Couldn’t recommend the scheme enough!” 

Improving perceptions 

The Accelerate team hope to shine a new light on higher education by improving perceptions around gaining offers for prestigious universities or securing internships and graduate jobs. They hope to achieve this with their resources including the 1-2-1 mentoring scheme and workshop events.  

The founders believe this positive representation is vital to show aspiring BAME students that top STEM degrees and career paths are attainable for them. Aiming to break glass ceilings and re-write narratives, especially with the difficulties of COVID-19, Accelerate continues to look for new opportunities to expand their reach with the aim of diversifying the workplace. 

Keval Patel and Anup Patel, Accelerate's Event Lead
Keval Patel and Anup Patel, Accelerate's Event Leads

Reporter

Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications and Public Affairs

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3970
Email: joanna.wilson@imperial.ac.uk

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