Before I entered the competition I had no idea what I wanted to do at university. I had just started my second year of A-levels and I knew I wanted to do something with maths, science or design, but I wasn’t really sure how I could combine all of those things and make a career out of it. Then I saw a poster for ‘The National Engineering Competition for Girls’ stuck on the wall at my sixth form with the question – “How can engineers solve the challenges of the 21st century”. The theme interested me because I wanted to do a project using 3D printing to help people, but I had no idea that this would be classed as engineering.
For my project I investigated how 3D printing could be used in less economically developed countries to provide low cost, high quality orthopedic implants. The aim of my project was to create a design that would reduce manufacturing costs so that safe prosthetic implants could be accessible to more people. Not only was completing my project fun, I also gained many useful skills from it too; I received a gold CREST award thanks to my project and I also learned to use CAD programs to design my prosthetic which supported my university application.
I was so happy when I found out I’d won Talent 2030 for my age category. I’d enjoyed the process of creating and refining my project, so to win was just an added bonus! The principal at my Sixth Form agreed to match the prize money that Talent 2030 awarded the college in order to buy a 3D printer with the hopes of inspiring more students to take an interest in engineering.
The Big Bang Fair
I got the chance to exhibit my project at the Big Bang Fair 2016 at the NEC Birmingham which was a lot of fun. I traveled down to the fair with my parents – the journey took 7 hours by coach from Sunderland (where I live) to Birmingham! Setting up my booth was great as I got to be creative with how I presented my project. I spent the nights before the journey down to Birmingham making a fake skeleton arm to demonstrate my prosthetic and I ended up raiding my college’s science equipment room for decorations!
I met so many like-minded girls who all had excellent projects; my favourite entry was a group of girls who had created their own low cost natural hand sanitation product that could be produced and distributed in countries where poor sanitation is a high cause of mortality. At the fair I also got the opportunity to speak to many engineering companies about their undergraduate schemes and my future career which is a great opportunity that I wouldn’t have had without Talent 2030.
I also got to speak to some of the talent 2030 competition judges, who are all female engineering professionals, about their careers and how they’d progressed to where they are now which was really interesting and motivational.
After the Competition
I enjoyed my project so much I decided it’s what I wanted to do as a career, which led me to picking mechanical engineering at university. On my course at Newcastle University, only 16% of the class are girls, but this is above national average and also the highest the university has seen.
I recommend the competition to all girls that I know who are interested in STEM because I’ve had such a great time participating and also because of all of the opportunities that I’ve had because of it. I was the first person from my sixth form to enter and I hope that in the next few years more and more girls will decide to give the competition a shot and hopefully be inspired to take up engineering.