by Hannah Booker, STEM Ambassador and Innovation Associate at the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA)
What do you think of when you hear the word “older adult”? Would you ever have thought there are people working creatively to make the lives of people of all ages better in the space of ageing? Can STEM subjects lead to jobs in this area?
Image credit: © 2019 Bowmer + Kirkland, UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing, The Catalyst
In my job as an Innovation Associate here at the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), we are challenging stereotypes of how people perceive older adults, and we recognise the value of every voice. Our super-power is in connecting the invisible dots in society, discovering the possible hidden interactions across different sectors and showcasing to the world that we can create ideas and solutions that will benefit everyone; changing the way we may think of older people as a “burden”, to one of empowerment and giving everyone a voice.
Next time you think of your grandparents or someone you see as older, remember how the world needs an incredibly diverse set of people to deliver solutions. By enabling conversations between different generations and allowing people of all ages and backgrounds to come together to share ideas and experience, this is a catalyst for a better society.
In my day to day job here at NICA, we are helping to co-develop and bring to market products and services which create a world in which we all live better, for longer. We call our approach, Ageing Intelligence®. My work involves research and insights gathering across multiple sectors, from mobility and transportation, to lifestyles and care, intergenerational working and much more. There is intelligence in data from research, but also from human experience and emotions and working with the public to share knowledge and wisdom is such an exciting part of my job and there is great value in combining people’s skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to come up with effective solutions.
As an example of the type of work we do linking to technology, NICA is the first in the world to evaluate the effectiveness of “GITA robots”, a robot which can follow you around as well as carrying your possessions; assisting in the mobility of older adults.
As you embark on your own journeys within STEM, remember that there are so many jobs out there where you can really make a difference to other people’s lives and where every day you can continue to learn something new. We are all going to get older, we can’t avoid it but the opportunities in this space are for all of us!