Women Like Me engineer Rachel Kirkwood engages 1778 children for Leaders Awards

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Rachel Kirkwood, graduate engineer at Peter Brett, reached 1778 primary school pupils today in her online presentation for the Leaders Award. The children from 14 schools across England and Scotland.

The Leaders Award is supported by UWE Bristol and asks children “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. This free competition asks students to find a problem, invent a solution, draw it, explain and send it in. Pupils are encouraged to both interview engineers and watch the online interviews.

Rachel, who is taking part in UWE’s Women Like Me project to support women and girls in engineering, spoke about civil engineering and transport planning. After the presentation, she said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it was a great opportunity to give an insight into the varied world of civil engineering and transport planning. The pupils asked very interesting and sometimes challenging questions. They all seemed to enjoy the session and learn a lot.”

We’re sure Rachel inspired many children today, and are looking forward to more Leaders Award presentations.

Engineers who would like to support Primary Engineer / The Leaders Award can find out more here. Schools which would like to participate in Meet an Engineer interviews can find more information here.

Women Like presented at Association for Science Education conference

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UWE’s Women Like Me project, run by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs, was featured in a presentation about making Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths accessible to under-represented groups at the Association for Science Education Annual Conference today.

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project aimed at boosting female representation in engineering.  The project pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to give them mentoring support as they start out in their engineering careers. In turn, junior women undertake engineering education outreach in schools and at public events in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

ASE’s Annual Conference is Europe’s largest science education Continuing Professional Development conference. The 2019 conference is being held 9th-12th January at the University of Birmingham. This National conference brings together the best speakers and practitioners all in one place with 504 sessions, 473 speakers and 2,000 delegates.

“Women Like Me: mentoring and outreach for women and girls in engineering” was authored by Laura Hobbs and Laura Fogg Rogers and presented by Laura Hobbs, as part of the Making STEM for everyone: reaching under-served audiences session of the conference.



Women Like Me featured in Science in Public conference presentation

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UWE’s Women Like Me project, run by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs, was featured in a presentation about increasing visibility of minority groups at STEM events at the Science in Public conference today.

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project aimed at boosting female representation in engineering.  The project pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to give them mentoring support as they start out in their engineering careers. In turn, junior women undertake engineering education outreach in schools and at public events in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Science in Public 2018 was a conference “centred on the multiple ways that scholars have sought to intervene in, understand, talk about, and co-produce with, the natural sciences – whether from the perspective of Science and Technology Studies (STS), Public Understanding of Science, Science Communication, Medical Sociology, the History of Science, Social and Cultural Theory, Science Journalism or some other intellectual inheritance”. It took place at the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University.

“MI STEM – Improving the visibility of Minorities in STEM at science events” was authored by Laura Fogg Rogers and Laura Hobbs and presented by Laura Fogg Rogers, as part of the Communication, Education and Engagement strand of the conference.

Engineers from UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering Society excited to be building Leaders Award winning design

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A team of UWE Bristol engineering students:

have now picked one of the winning designs from this year’s Leaders Award to turn into reality. The team are part of UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering student society and Katy is also a participant in our Women Like Me mentoring and outreach project supporting women and girls in engineering.

The team picked the design of Philippa Griffiths, a Year 7 student at Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset. Philippa designed the RLBS (Red Line Braking System) to display red lights to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed, with the aim of reducing fatalities on our roads. The team will be visiting Philippa’s school in February to discuss the design with her and deliver engineering outreach for her class.
Georgina and Olesya tell us how they’re looking forward to getting started, in this video made by Miriam:

Women Like Me engineer Jess Henson on her role and women in engineering

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Our Women Like Me engineer Jess Henson, a Development Engineer at Renishaw‘s Neurological Products Division, has been featured recently in publications such as Education in Science, Future Magazine and Engineer’s Journal, talking about her role, how she got there and women in engineering. Renishaw have kindly allowed us to reproduce their interview with Jess in full here. 

Renishaw celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

The global engineering technologies company Renishaw is hosting a number of activities this year to promote engineering as a positive career choice for women, including an activity day for young women and their parents, readings of the new ‘Little Miss Inventor’ book at local primary schools and a special cinema evening for the movie ‘Hidden Figures’.

Renishaw has over 130 trained STEM Ambassadors, a third of whom are women, including Jess Henson, a Development Engineer at the company’s Neurological Products Division who answers a series of questions about her role and women in engineering:

 

What inspired you to become an engineer?

At school I always enjoyed science, particularly the practical experiments, where you get the chance to apply what you’ve learnt from a textbook. I also enjoyed art, although at the time I didn’t appreciate how this would help me in an engineering career with creativity and problem solving. Going on an engineering experience event was a key moment in understanding what an engineering career would actually be like.

 

What is biomedical engineering?

Applying engineering principles to the body and to healthcare is the fundamental aspect of biomedical engineering. For example, studying forces and how they relate to the movement of a prosthetic arm, or applying fluid movement to determine the blood flow in arteries.

Biomedical engineering isn’t a well-known field. In general, people think engineering is mechanical or electrical, but it is so much more.

 

How did you find out about biomedical engineering?

I’d never heard of biomedical engineering until I came across it in a university prospectus.

When I discovered it, I realised I could combine my biology, maths, physics and art and apply my skills to solving real life problems.

It seemed a more hands on and multidisciplinary subject than pure maths on its own.

I went on to study biomedical engineering at Imperial College London, before taking on a graduate role at Renishaw. During my graduate training, I completed rotations around the company, taking up a role in the Spectroscopy Products Division testing a new pharmaceutical analyser and a role in the Medical and Dental Products Division rebranding a product as a medical device. I also worked in the Neurological Products Division for a year, looking at how to make brain surgery more efficient.

 

What does your job involve day-to-day?

I’m a Development Engineer at Renishaw’s Neurological Products Division, where I design, develop and test new products for brain surgery. This combines skills from biology, maths and physics, as well as the creative skills learnt from art. For example, I’ve used trigonometry to calculate surgical trajectories – something I could never have imagined during my maths lessons at school.

At the moment I’m working on the development of a new device to attach onto the end of our neurosurgical robot, which in combination with other new devices we hope will extend and enhance the lives of cancer patients. This a very rewarding area where I’ll be able to see how my work will affect people’s lives.

 

What is your advice to young women considering engineering careers?

Choosing what you want to study can be scary. The best way to narrow it down is to gain experience. To keep your options open I’d suggest choosing either science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects or a STEM apprenticeship.

Girls shouldn’t be put off by the stereotypes.

There is a broad range of engineering careers out there from designers to customer facing roles. I’d recommend an apprenticeship or graduate placement at a company like Renishaw where you can experience a range of positions across different company divisions.

People are often surprised when I tell them I am an engineer. After all, only nine per cent of engineers in the UK are female. If we want this to change we need more girls to study physics, engineering and maths and a greater awareness of the scope of engineering careers, which many may be surprised to discover stretches to brain surgery.  We need to inform parents, teachers and young people what engineering really is and how they can apply what they are learning first hand.

UK-based Renishaw is a world leading engineering technologies company, supplying products used for applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, through to dentistry and brain surgery. It has over 4,500 employees located in the 35 countries where it has wholly owned subsidiary operations.

This interview (or parts of it) has been used in print in: Education in Science, Future Magazine and the WES Autumn newsletter and online by: The Engineer, Ed Quarter, Education Technology, Engineer’s Journal, Machines 4 Sale, Machine Building and the WES Autumn newsletter.

UWE Bristol team to build winning Leaders Award design

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In 2018, Year of Engineering, UWE Bristol was a partner organisation of the Primary Engineer & Secondary Engineer Leaders Awards in the South West of England, along with DE&S  (the MOD’s Defence, Equipment and Support organisation).

As part of the competition, school pupils met and learnt from engineering students and professionals, before answering the question:

by identifying a problem in society that engineering could solve and devising a solution.

Shortlisted and winning entries were displayed at an exhibition at UWE Bristol in June. A team of UWE Bristol engineering students:

have now picked one of the winning designs to turn into reality. The team are part of UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering student society and Katy is also a participant in our Women Like Me mentoring and outreach project supporting women and girls in engineering.

The team picked the design of Philippa Griffiths, a Year 7 student at Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset. Philippa designed the RLBS (Red Line Braking System) to display red lights to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed, with the aim of reducing fatalities on our roads.
Olesya explained why they chose Philippa’s design to make:

“We all agreed as a team on the design choice, because its practicality and feasibility suit our view and needs in the project. It will provide a great marketing look as well as provoking interest for children, as we are planning for them to physically test the final prototype! It’s a fantastic opportunity for us and we are all looking forward to see this project coming true!”

Mechanical engineer Brad Squires (President of Engineers Without Borders at UWE) will support and advise the project team as they begin to build Philippa’s design. They are hoping to visit Philippa and her classmates at their school as the project progresses. Watch this space!

Year of Engineering celebrated at Westminster Abbey

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As 2018, the Year of Engineering, draws to a close, the contribution of engineering and engineers to society was recognised yesterday (22nd November 2018) in a national celebration at Westminster Abbey.

The service, led by The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, marked the government’s Year of Engineering and the bicentenary of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and shone a spotlight on the contribution the profession makes to inspiring the next generation. It was the first of its kind and jointly organised by HM Government, ICE, and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), funder of our Women Like Me project supporting women and girls in engineering.

 

Roma Agrawal MBE, Associate Director at AECOM, and Colonel Deborah Porter, Deputy Commander of the Defence Medical Group, gave testimonies on how engineering had changed their lives and enabled them to help and inspire others through their work. Children from local schools were invited to attend, with reflection on how industry and government have joined forces throughout 2018 to bring engineering to life for young people from all backgrounds – and the importance of this continuing in 2019 and beyond.

You can find out more, including quotes from Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, ICE President Andrew Wyllie CBE and President of the Royal Academy of Engineers Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS from the UK Government, details of the service from Westminster Abbey, and contents of the talks from The Engineer. Images are from the reports linked.

“Engineering is a hugely diverse profession open to all”

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Our Women Like Me engineer Eleanor Davies, structural engineer at BuroHappold, gave a very successful Leaders AwardMeet an Engineer‘ interview for the Leaders Award on 21st November. Eleanor told us more about her experience of giving the presentation in her guest post below. 

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to talk to over 1300 children at primary school about what engineering is and what I do. Primary Engineer Leaders Award uses video calls to allow engineers to explain what they do to children and answer their questions in real time. This is a great way to engage many more children than simply going into one classroom, and to give them an understanding of what engineers actually look like and do. This is especially powerful at a young age when children are still curious about the world around them and stereotypes have not been formed.

 

In particular, I really enjoyed answering the many insightful questions asked. It definitely brought back good memories of damming streams on the beach in Wales, watching Megastructures on TV and gave me a chance to reflect on my career so far. Hopefully, it also showed that engineering is a hugely diverse profession open to all. It offers amazing opportunities to apply maths and science to solve real world problems and to come up with tangible solutions that you can be proud of.

Engineers who would like to support Primary Engineer / The Leaders Award can find out more here. Schools which would like to participate in Meet an Engineer interviews can find more information here.

Women Like Me engineer Eleanor Davies presents to 1334 children for Leaders Awards

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UWE Bristol is delighted to be supporting the Primary Engineer and Secondary Engineer Leaders Awards again this year, and even more pleased that some of our Women Like Me engineers are taking part in online ‘Meet an Engineer‘ interviews with school students around the UK as part of this.

Eleanor Davies, a structural engineer at BuroHappold, is one of those engineers and is currently presenting online to 1334 children. So successfully, that the Leaders Awards would like her to come back!

 

 

You can find out more about the Leaders Awards in the video below, or by visiting their website.

“Working towards a world where we can all do what we are passionate about”

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As we were delighted to announce last week, our Women Like Me participant Jessica Poole Mather of Rolls Royce won the WISE One to Watch Award on 15th November. In this guest post, Jess tells us more about how she got to where she is and her experiences so far as a woman in engineering.

As a small child, I don’t think I would ever have thought I would be given an award for my stubbornness, for doing jigsaw puzzles, and existing so completely in my own fantasy world that I would talk to beetles and birds over other children. Looking back, I wonder now if I had been a boy, maybe I would have been called “adventurous”, or “independent”, or even “scientific”.

I’m now 23, and I’m an engineer at Rolls-Royce, stubborn as ever, now around changing perceptions of women in science, and working towards my dream world where we’re not destroying our planet with its own resources, and where people’s careers are pursued not because of how they’re labelled but because of what they want to do.

I was lucky enough to attend the WISE Awards this year, winning the One To Watch award alongside Alexandra Lawson, an engineer at Shell. We were both overexcited and stunned, and it only added to the confusion that I don’t think either of us spends much time wearing high heels – walking up the stairs to the stage was perhaps more challenging than it should have been.

Growing up, throughout university, and since I’ve started work I’ve had the most incredible support network and role models, particularly my mum. I admit I was a little nervous going to start work at a large corporation as an engineer, when my degree had been in chemistry and I knew I would be one of the only women on the team. I won’t say I haven’t had any negative experiences, but those have been easily outweighed by some extremely positive ones, including a series of phenomenal line managers who always seemed to back me to do anything, and two brilliant mentors who I could go to for support.

In turn, I’m trying my best to do my bit to help other women into STEM. I’ve taken on multiple mentoring schemes, spoken at outreach events and careers fairs to children of a range of ages and to university students. Unfortunately, I occasionally catch my own unconscious bias where I’ve ended up talking about STEM to girls at these events more than boys!

The WISE campaign is an incredible scheme, made up of a group of people I’m extremely proud to be a part of, all working towards the same goal: diversity and inclusion in the workplace, whether that’s gender, race or physical or neurological disabilities, and working towards a world where we can all do what we are passionate about.