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The University of Southampton

University opens its doors to the community in a celebration of science

Published: 22 March 2023
SOTSEF visitor using VR headset
Visitors using the University's virtual reality equipment.

Thousands of visitors came to the University of Southampton at the weekend to take part in the annual Science and Engineering Day, part of Southampton Science and Engineering Festival – known as SOTSEF.

The 10-day celebration was launched in 2002, welcoming families from across the UK to take part in hands-on activities, workshops, live shows, talks and laboratory tours from across the University’s faculties.

This year saw the opening of the new ‘Community Zone’, where visitors could learn about the university's local partners - such as the New Forest National Park, Hampshire Bat Group, So Make It, WEA Adult Learning, the NHS and many others.

The festival concluded on Saturday 18 March with the award-winning Science and Engineering Day, with an estimated 5,000 visitors coming to Highfield Campus and Boldrewood Innovation Campus to explore the 940 exhibitors on show.

You can watch the video below to see what was on offer this year.


Ben Littlefield, Head of Public Engagement, said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to see so many people coming onto campus, exploring the campus itself as a place, but also interacting with our researchers, our staff and our students.

“It’s really important that we as a University invite people onto campus, and interact with them, because we need to break down the barriers between higher education, universities and society.

“Science and engineering festivals are just a small step to start inviting people onto campus, to start telling people what we’re doing, but more importantly to start listening to what people actually want.”

Over the last few years, SOTSEF has become one of the most popular science festivals in the south, with attendees coming as far as Devon, Kent, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester for the day.

Since the COVID19 pandemic, the University has also developed digital elements for the festival, enabling new national and international audiences to attend virtually.

Science and Engineering Day won awards from the British Science Association for Best Engineering Event in 2009 and Best STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Institution Event in 2014.

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