Talent 2030

Real-life examples of people in engineering and manufacturing

Victoria Martin is a Senior Structural Engineer at Expedition.

She only discovered engineering as a career by chance but has always enjoyed maths, physics and product design.

“If you’re naturally inquisitive and want to make a difference in the world, then engineering might be the career for you.”

Talent 2030 Heroes

  • Kira Iaquinta

    Transformational Productivity Engineer at PepsiCo UK

    Kira’s story: A female engineer in a world where women are underrepresented

    Kira Iaquinta is PepsiCo’s only female engineering apprentice who has also gone on to secure a successful career within the Central Technical Services department. She left school at 16 and was hired by PepsiCo in 2009 as an apprentice. She is now 25 years old.

    “At school I wasn’t very sporty, I was hands on and my strongest points were always science and maths. My dad is an engineer and so is my grandfather so I always grew up around engineering. It was never a girl or boy thing.”

    “I originally studied as a design electrician and got a job at a design company, but it wasn’t for me so I went back to college and trained as a multi skilled electrical and electronic engineer.”

    “My advice to girls would be to let the stigma go and get out there. It’s not just a man’s world anymore”

    At PepsiCo over 40% of senior roles across the business are filled by women. Over half the R&D team based in the UK are women and two thirds of our UK executive team are women.

    “Luckily at PepsiCo there are lots of women at all levels of the organisation, so I haven’t really noticed any gender stereotyping. I also had a good career adviser at school. He didn’t give me a list of gendered job roles – he gave me a list of jobs I might be good at and enjoy. My advice to girls would be to let the stigma go and get out there. It’s not just a man’s world anymore.”

    “I’m really proud of my role here at PepsiCo.”

    “When it came to choosing where I wanted to work, PepsiCo was such a well-known brand and it’s a blue chip company renowned for looking after their apprentices so the other recruiters didn’t really stand a chance!”

    “My apprenticeship technically ended in 2013, but PepsiCo offered me an ‘improvers year’ to continue my studies. The company has been continuously supportive since then, giving me access to every relevant training course I’ve shown an interest in so I’ve never needed to look elsewhere. I am also looking at finishing my degree part time, which PepsiCo are being extremely supportive of”

    “I’ve now moved away from the factory and am working on insight into future technologies in the Central Technical Services department. I am presently working with students at Nottingham Trent University to research collaborative robots and how they may benefit our industry. Currently in all our factories our robots are caged away, to keep us safe. With the recent break through collaborative robots have made in cost and function, we are now able to realistically investigate the potential they may have within our industry. These robots can safely and effectively interact with human workers while performing simple day to day tasks. Subsequently removing the cost of caging and footprint required. It’s all really interesting stuff.”

  • Suzanne Davies

    Senior R&D Technician at PepsiCo

    Meet Suzanne Davies – a Senior R&D Technician at one of PepsiCo’s global R&D centres, at only age 22.

    Suzanne Davies first joined PepsiCo as a placement student in 2014 while she was studying an undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Food Science.

    Since then, she has completed her degree and at 22 years of age, she has re-joined PepsiCo as a senior research and development (R&D) technician at the company’s global R&D centre in Leicester. This is one of four R&D centres for snacks that PepsiCo has in the world.

    When a love of food grows into a love of science

    Suzanne has always had a love of food. She had a childhood dream of being a chef in the Royal Air Force. But during her undergraduate, she found an interest in food science.

    “I never really thought I’d go into science. I was always interested in maths and did food tech in high school but I found that science grew on me. I was lucky enough that the University of Nottingham is one of the few universities that offers a food science degree, so I could combine both passions.”

    A placement experience that developed and challenged Suzanne

    During her placement, Suzanne showed quickly that she was a fast and keen learner.

    “When I started my placement in the R&D team, they gave me lots of small objectives that I was working towards, and by the time I was 6 months in, I was managing my own projects. I couldn’t believe how much I had changed and developed.”

    “This was completely different to many of the experiences other food science students had. They weren’t given much responsibility during their placements and I’d hear a lot of stories about how poor and limited their workload had been.”

    Suzanne, alongside eight other students from the 2012-2014 placement cohorts, were offered full time jobs once their degrees were completed, which they’ve all taken up.

    From university to top-secret projects

    Graduating in July 2016, Suzanne is now a Senior R&D Technician for PepsiCo. Whilst she is working within the same team as her placement year, her research now has a long-term focus.

    “It’s all super top secret so I’m afraid I can’t say more. But it’s all incredibly fascinating, and you get to feel like you’re part of something bigger.”

    It’s not just the work that encouraged Suzanne to return, but also the culture.
    “It doesn’t feel too corporate and scary. By the second day I felt completely settled again.”
    Beyond her day-to-day technician role, Suzanne is completing a Masters in Food Science and Engineering at the University of Nottingham which PepsiCo is sponsoring.
    “I’m keen to continue my learning and development while at work. Engineering is clearly an important part of PepsiCo’s business so I wanted to develop skills that would help me be a better technician and open up further opportunities for me. PepsiCo has been fully supportive of this, so that I don’t have to count it as annual leave if I have to take a few days off for an intense course week.”

  • Katie Bannister

    Trainee Operations Engineer, EDF Energy’s Sizewell B Power Station

    Katie Bannister is a Trainee Operations Engineer at EDF Energy’s Sizewell B Power Station. She started with the company via their 18 month graduate scheme in 2012 which included rotations around three of EDF Energy’s nuclear power stations in the UK.

    She studied Chemical Engineering at Manchester University, went on to teach in a secondary school and joined the nuclear industry when she learned about the exciting opportunities during a work experience week with EDF Energy’s Nuclear New Build (NNB) business.


    Katie first learned of Engineering through the Headstart programme, a Trust that organises short experiences for students to attend a University and learn about different types of Engineering. Having visited Newcastle University for a week during her A levels, Katie was inspired to pursue a career in Engineering, combining her passion for both maths and science.

    The work experience week spent in NNB gave Katie an opportunity to discover the nuclear industry. Spending time with some of EDF Energy’s leading nuclear specialists, learning about how a nuclear power station works and the career prospects in the industry, teamed with the enthusiasm of engineers who have spent their careers building and operating nuclear power stations was an incredibly inspirational time for Katie. It was at this moment that Katie was enthused to apply to the EDF Energy graduate scheme.


    Katie faces a number of challenges in her role at Sizewell B Power Station as she progresses through the 18 month accredited training programme to become an Operations Engineer. Studying and developing both the knowledge and practical skills required to meet the standards necessary for control room operations is highly challenging but exceptionally rewarding. The training is delivered by qualified operators who provide excellent training with a wealth of operational experience to enhance the trainees’ knowledge.

    An additional challenge that Katie has completed was the opportunity to develop her language skills. With opportunities to work in France, where EDF has a fleet of 58 nuclear reactors, a number of graduates were supported with tuition to develop their French skills. This was successfully put to the test during a visit to Sizewell from some of Katie’s French colleagues.


    ‘If you have an interest in Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology (STEM) subjects, the engineering industry provides fantastic opportunities to put these subjects into practice.

    Science and Engineering events are a great way to meet people in different industries and ask questions to find out about what you are interested in and where your career could take you. The Headstart Programme was a brilliant week for me to discover engineering and one that I would strongly recommend.

    Work experience can provide invaluable opportunities to find out about roles in industry and develop an understanding of the practical application of subjects studied at school.

    Industries also often provide opportunities for visits. EDF Energy has opened visitor centres at each of its Nuclear Power stations. We can arrange for schools, colleges, universities or members of the public to come and have a look around the power station, meet some of the people who work here and gain an understanding of how a nuclear power station works”

  • Abbie Hutty

    Spacecraft Structures Engineer, Airbus Group

    Abbie is a Spacecraft Structures Engineer working for the Airbus Group. She studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Surrey and now leads a design team working on the vehicle structure for ExoMars Rover Mission – Europe’s first Rover mission to Mars. Abbie is passionate about highlighting how exciting careers in engineering can be, and was awarded the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award in 2013 for her work engaging with students and her public promotion of Engineering.


    When I was doing my GCSEs I had no idea what career I wanted – but was lucky enough to see a Mars mission in the news, and hear that British engineers were designing it! It completely turned my idea of what engineering was upside down- but it made me realise how exciting some engineering roles you can work in right here in the UK really are. Now that I work in Space Industry I’m constantly surprised at how big a sector this is in the UK, and it’s growing too! Our missions do all sorts of things, from providing Sky TV to exploring places in the solar system we have never been before. I find that idea of exploring new places and seeing never-seen-before sights so inspiring – I think it’s programmed into us as humans to always want to explore and know how we fit into the Universe- and in my job we really do stand to answer some of those great questions!


    All of our Space missions are challenging for different reasons- but overcoming these challenges means that you have to think really creatively, and work with brand new materials and technologies, which I love. There’s always something new to consider or learn about! Because Space is such an extreme environment we have to design for conditions you would never normally experience on Earth- like high radiation, huge temperature ranges, microgravity, vacuum, and so on. All of these factors force us to be very innovative in thinking up ways to overcome these problems- and a lot of new technology is developed just for space. Quite often, though, these technologies then prove useful for life down here on Earth- so it’s very interesting to see these new technologies becoming part of our everyday lives.


    I didn’t know very much about engineering as  a career when I was a student, but took a chance on it. Now I’m here though, I absolutely love my job and can’t imagine being so happy and fulfilled in any other sector- that’s part of the reason that I’m so passionate about helping today’s students find out early on about what engineers do, so that they can make informed decisions about their career choices. I think there’s a lot of myths flying around about Engineering, and you have to see through them to what the core projects are that engineers are working on in this country. There’s loads, from Green Energy to Medical Implants, Robotics, Next Generation Planes, Formula One, Future Cities, New High speed Rail, Providing sanitation and shelter to disaster areas and developing countries, Sports equipment, Driverless cars … I could go on all day! If you are inspired by these or any other project that engineers are working on, then engineering is for you!

  • Chloe Underdown

    Civil engineer, Mott MacDonald Bentley

    Chloe is a civil engineer working for Mott MacDonald Bentley after completing a Civil and Environmental degree at the University of Cambridge. Her final year project developed a simulant to model the contents of a pit latrine, or as her friends put it – fake poo. Currently she works in the water industry on design and builds projects to improve clean water sites.


    It was actually a careers questionnaire that put me on the path to engineering (and a little bit of research to find out what it actually involved). Initially I was attracted by ‘superlative’ engineering – the big impressive structures that were being built at the time. But actually what inspires me is the impact engineering can have on the world around us. Civil engineers provide the infrastructure that supports our daily lives and I find it incredibly exciting to be a part of that. Throughout my time at University Engineers Without Borders UK taught me to consider the global and human context that all our work sits in and their work continues to inspire me. My job is always throwing up new challenges which keeps it interesting and keeps me motivated.


    Sometimes it can feel like a battle to match the different expectations and wishes of the different stakeholders in a project. The client, consultant, contractor and their different parties within can have different motivations and it can be a balancing act at times. But it’s issues like this that prove that the technical problem is only a tiny proportion of what we do and why we need people who are good at communication, teamwork and multi-tasking not just maths and science. Also, a good reason for advocating for more diversity in the industry.


    There are many opportunities out there to get a taster of engineering – Head start courses, the Engineering Education Scheme etc. – and engineering companies often take on students for work experience. I would really recommend looking at the wide range of options available and giving some of them a go. I didn’t really know what engineers did on a day to day basis until I did a couple of weeks work experience when I was 15, and obviously that was only one example of engineering. Work experience while at university is really helpful for getting an insight into how your degree will be practically applied and give you a head start post graduation.

    Don’t be put off by other people’s perceptions of engineering or manufacturing, they’re often incorrect. I lost count of the number of people who assumed as I was going to study civil engineering I’d be building bridges. It was great fun telling them that no, I was going to build sewers. There is a great diversity to engineering so take the time to find what suits you best.

  • Sarah Turnbull

    Advanced Practical Apprentice, Rolls-Royce

    At just 22 years old, Sarah Turnbull is an Advanced Practical Apprentice for Rolls-Royce. This involves being seconded on different machines for 12 weeks at a time to learn a range of skills, gathering knowledge and performance evidence which will aid the manufacture of Grade A Critical Rotating Parts for various aircraft. This has included Manufacturing Engineering, Quality control and Health and Safety secondments. Sarah is completing her apprenticeship framework at the end of August where she is currently learning an entirely new skill set and working towards further education.


    I’m inspired to be a part of producing such vital parts for an ever-changing industry and I’m driven to achieve as much as I possibly can throughout my career. I want to ensure I’m always progressing both academically and improving my skills and won’t settle for second best performance from myself. I was inspired to pursue my career during college where I studied aerospace engineering and I wanted to stay within that field so gaining my apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce was a huge stepping stone for me. Innovation is an inspiration and the possibly to partake in the implementation of new processes is a big driving factor in my view of my future career, I hugely enjoy new challenges, problem solving and generally improving upon current practise and this is something I’d like to develop upon further.


    I think the main challenge within my job is probably due to how far ‘political correctness’ has come with regards to females. I think that in general, being a female in the industry doesn’t cause any issues as such, however people tend to err too far on the side of caution and try to make too many changes to try and accommodate me which often aren’t necessary. The physical aspect of my present role is a huge challenge, I am working an extremely heavy manual job and I’m currently working with my company to solve some issues so that I don’t have to rely on others to complete aspects of my role for me. I think any challenge can be overcome and it’s about communicating well with everyone involved to ensure all parties are kept happy and informed, solving issues promptly and in a way which can be continuously developed in future.


    The advice I would give to any individual on the pursuit to an engineering career is to work hard! Put in the effort to give, challenge your all and you will achieve. If you’re at the point of choosing your options in school and you know you want to be an engineer then don’t take a subject completely unrelated because it’s what your friends are doing! You have to be your own person and realize that it is your choices, and your choices alone that affect your future. It’s in your hands- you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it! Dedication and sacrifice may be necessary now, but one day you’ll look back and think it wasn’t really a sacrifice at all when you’re in the job you’ve always dreamed of and really content with life! Don’t settle for second best and work to your full ability.

  • Christine Allen

    Contract Director, Balfour Beatty

    Christine Allen works at Balfour Beatty on the Area 4 Contract for the Highways Agency.

    “As a civil engineer we can make a real difference to society. We get to improve the UK’s infrastructure through building and maintaining the road network – something most of the public take for granted.”


    “I spent 10 years building new infrastructure and the last 3 operating and maintaining the Strategic Road Network for the Highways Agency. I lead a team of around 350 staff plus our supply chain who do everything from building new structures, to operating tunnels, clearing incidents, being prepared for severe weather and renewing the existing infrastructure.

    Behind the scenes we have asset managers identifying the work needed, we have planners, finance and commercial teams, a customer care team, as well as many inspectors, design and construction engineers and operatives out on the network. Very diverse mix of roles and people! The industry is evolving all the time and for the better – we have always put safety first and now we are working more collaboratively than ever with our clients, supply chain and not least with internal teams.”


    “Civil Engineering is a terrific career for anyone who enjoys seeing the physical fruits of their labour and having a positive impact on society.”


    “I don’t believe being a woman in the construction industry has either hindered or helped my career. It all comes down to your attitude. If you are motivated, want to get on and make a difference the opportunities are there for a very fulfilling career – it’s up to you to take them.”

  • Emma Goddard

    Technical Apprentice, Tata Steel

    Emma works for Tata Steel as a Technical Apprentice. When she left school she went to college and eventually got accepted at University, however after doubting the course decided to find a job instead. Emma ended up on an Apprenticeship working with children, although she enjoyed it she knew it wasn’t the career for her. After  finishing her NVQ Emma found out about Technical Apprenticeships, it sounded brilliant, and she was lucky enough to be one of the three apprentices out of hundreds to be chosen (even though she had no experience, just passion!) Emma is now six months in to her placement and loves going to work. Emma is currently at Rotherham College of Arts studying Materials Engineering and working with SEMTA to complete her level 3 NVQ.


    Engineering certainly runs in my family, ranging from mechanical, electrical and now technical engineers. My Granddad was the greatest influence on my career, he inspired me to see the world in a different light and think outside the box. He challenged me to think about how, why and what makes things work. Without realising it, this gave me the qualities to be a Technical Apprentice. I am also look enough to have influential people around me who are guiding me through my career presently. One of these influential individuals started out as a Technical Apprentice and now six years later is a Metallurgist for Rolls Royce and works closely with MD. This motivates me to think that there are great possibilities in this career.


    My biggest challenge at this present moment is adjusting to the Steel Works. Previously I have only ever worked in schools, which is completely different to this busy, industrial work place. Within this job there are certain departments in which you are expected to work shifts, this also includes night shifts and can be very tiring. However I feel I have now adapted well to my new working pattern.


    You can be extremely rewarded in this industry, with high qualifications, a good salary, a job you are passionate about, as well as amazing opportunities such as meeting influential people such as a prince, or attending inspiring events, such as After Noon Tea at the Houses of Parliament. However to be rewarded you need to work hard, and be dedicated to your career, as well as show you are passionate about what you do, then you will succeed.

    As a woman in Engineering I would like to encourage more females to see their potential within Engineering and Manufacturing roles. This industry is not a dirty or dingy place to work, it is a booming energetic environment, full of people that adore their work and you can be apart of that, regardless of your gender.

  • Jo Carris

    Sustainability Consultant and Chartered Environmentalist at Useful Simple Projects

    Jo is a Sustainability Consultant and Chartered Environmentalist, and has worked on high profile construction projects like the London 2012 Olympics, Brazil 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympics.

    Jo didn’t have a job in mind when she was at school, but she loved learning new things, and knew she wanted to go to University and have a professional career.  She enjoyed STEM subjects, and also particularly enjoyed coursework projects.  Jo took A-levels in Physics, Maths, Design and Technology and English Language, and went on to do a BSc in Technology at the University of Birmingham. After deciding she wanted to specialise in environmental aspects, she went on to do an MSc in Environmental Technology and Energy Policy at Imperial College London.

    In 2013, Jo won the WISE Excellence Award and in 2012 she was one of the top 50 Rising Stars of Sustainability in the UK building industry.  She is a STEM Ambassador, has co-authored a chapter in a book and has presented about sustainability at events worldwide.


    “Buildings are responsible for almost half of the country’s carbon emissions, half of our water consumption, about one third of landfill waste and one quarter of all raw materials used in the UK. There will be 30% more people living on Earth in 2050, all of these extra people will need places to live. There will be increasing demand for many resources and these are just a few facts that inspired me to pursue a career in sustainable design and construction,.”


    Sustainability consultants come across resistance to make buildings or big developments more sustainable.  Clients are often concerned about costs.  Many design and construction companies also prefer to use tried and tested solutions rather than innovative ones because of concerns about risk and the extra time and effort involved. 

    A big part of a sustainability consultant’s role is to overcome these challenges.  Sustainability consultants:

    • Provide advice about how to reduce environmental impacts and enhance performance of the built environment
    • Demonstrate the environmental, social and economic benefits
    • Research and suggest new and appropriate technologies and materials.  Find case studies of where they have been used before to help build confidence
    • Work with architects, engineers and construction companies to develop and implement sustainable design solutions that are realistic technically and economically


    “Work experience is an excellent way of finding out what type of job and working environment suits you.  I thought I wanted to be a teacher, did some work experience, and quickly realised it wasn’t right for me.”

    “There are so many professions related to sustainability and the built environment.  You can find out about these online.  It’s a great sector to work in because every day is different, and you are doing something positive to improve our towns and cities.”

    “If you want to be successful, put effort into everything you do, be proactive, and take opportunities when they arise.”

    More information about Useful Simple Projects here

  • Tara Abachi

    Project Engineer, Centrica Energy


    Tara is inspired by the ever evolving world of technology and creativity within the engineering industries that help shape and build the world we live in.  She enjoys working with highly experienced people within the oil and gas industry and is proud to be part of a business that values creative engineering and pioneering thinking. If it was not for the engineers solving and looking for better solutions, she believes we would be stuck in an age with no solid infrastructure, no sustainable source of energy and very limited transport.


    “If you aren’t challenged then you are not pushing the boundaries and learning to the best of your abilities.  Challenge is what motivates engineers to do their best and work together to come up with collaborative and well thought through solutions.”  Tara has worked in various departments within the energy sector from asset integrity management, HSE&Q compliance and project delivery. Many aspects of the work she has done has been challenging and yet rewarding knowing that what she delivers is contributing towards a safer, more viable business.


    Tara has received her encouragement from an early age from her parents and school teachers. She has continued to receive recognition from the business for her contribution to safety & project delivery, which encourages her to continue working hard and delivering quality work. She is keen to promote engineering across schools and young students and believes there is still a lot to do to raise the engineering profile within the UK. Tara is a strong believer that parents play a key role in encouraging their children from an early age to pursue science and technology as a career path.


    Tara is motivated by being challenged and through learning; the two combined creates an environment that she is able to flourish and deliver her best work. She believes that you can succeed in both your work and personal life if you create balance and make time for people and hobbies that are important to you; that’s what makes you a well composed individual that can offer several dimensions and different ways of thinking.


    “Don’t let misconceptions about engineering deter you from choosing it as a career; seek professional advice and speak to engineers about what opportunities exist for you”. Engineering is an honest and rewarding career, you find seldom alternative careers that provide you with the opportunity to grow as a person, build on your competencies and be creative; if you want to be involved in an industry that is constantly looking for genius ways to help its society to grow, an engineering career would be a perfect solution”.

    “The challenge is to get through your university years and have the strong belief that the long hours you are putting in now will be rewarded and recognised in the near future”.

  • Laurie-ann Benner

    Reliability Engineer, PEME


    When my husband, Chris, was doing his apprenticeship he used to bring home his college work. I started reading through some of his books and he encouraged me to go for an apprenticeship.

    My dad has worked in a food factory in Wisbech all my life and when I was a lot younger he took me into the factory on one of their ‘Take Your Child to Work’ days. I thought it was fantastic the range of equipment and the processes used to make the product range.


    I am very lucky to have a very supportive family and my husband has always pushed me to do the best in whatever I do.

    PEME have a great apprenticeship support and mentoring structure so you are helped through your apprenticeship by people who know the structure and the client sites that you work on.

    The people who you get to work with on an apprenticeship have knowledge and understanding far greater than any book could explain, and these are the people who you get to work with on a day to day basis and who will help you through your apprenticeship.


    My main motivation is to help bring a higher understanding of apprenticeships and engineering to young people, and in particular young women. I think the best way of doing this is through a mix of school visits, to get the important information to the people who need it at a time when they still have all the possible opportunities open to them and talking to companies and politicians to improve the number of apprenticeships available and course content.


    I would recommended anyone who is interested in doing an apprenticeship to go to the National Apprenticeship Service website (www.apprenticeships.org.uk) which has information on all the types of apprenticeships that are available and also the IET case study page (www.theiet.org/apprentices/meet-apprentices) where you can read the ‘Real Life’ stories.

    If you want a job where you could travel across the country, learn new things every day and with industrial engineering equipment constantly being brought out, there are always new things to learn and new opportunities.

    Engineering is a fantastic career path for women to choose, there is a wide range of paths you can follow within the engineering sector, and women bring a fresh perspective on jobs and tasks.

    Interests and Hobbies

    My husband and I have a wide range of hobbies from sailing to skiing and fitness to fundraising. We both volunteer at our local Cats Protection centre (Welwyn and Hatfield), where we get to socialize the cats and kittens which is extremely rewarding.

    I am a member of the Norfolk Snowsports Club where I learnt both snowboarding and skiing. I also spent a week this year skiing in the French Alps with friends and family, where I skied part of Chamonix downhill run.

    Every year I take part in a charity event and over the years I have completed various fundraising tasks including 10 mile walks, sponsored swims, rally events, and this year a three stage 88 mile walk. In total I have helped to raise over £25,000 for various charities including Papworth hospital, Make a Wish foundation, and Families Against Neuroblastoma.

  • Kellieann Hukins

    MEng Mechanical Engineering – Warwick University

    Kellieann joined the Rolls-Royce graduate programme in September 2010, after completing two summer internships while at university.


    “My personal goal is to work in Manufacturing Improvement. I’ve done a couple of placements in this area already, but have also used my other placements to build a broader knowledge of the company. I’ve worked with Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Marine, and Energy. At this stage of my career, I think it’s really important to experience as many areas of the business as I can. Doing placements in different departments and across functions is also a great way to network – I’ve already made a number of contacts in the business that I’m sure will support me as I progress.

    “The great thing about the Professional Excellence programme is that it provides you with the freedom to shape your own career. It’s a flexible scheme that allows you to explore a range of business areas. At the start, you’re allocated a graduate development consultant and a career coach to help you make some informed choices. There’s so much you can do here; it’s good to have their guidance and support.


    “One of my three-month placements was in Norway. This was a fantastic experience for me as I got to immerse myself in a new culture and see how the global Rolls-Royce business works. As well as Manufacturing, I also got to work with Operations and Quality. From negotiating contracts and creating specifications to manufacturing and testing engine assemblies, to following everything up with service support, the experience gave a real view of the big picture.


    “Outside my formal placements, I’ve also participated in a project to promote STEM subjects within schools. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This particular project saw me help some local year-nine students design and build a pedalo as part of a competition. Quite a few of us graduates and apprentices got involved and it was a really enjoyable experience.


    “Whether you join the Professional Excellence or the Leadership programme, I would say that Rolls-Royce is an exceptional place to start your career. While there are obvious differences between the programmes – one focuses on producing specialists; the other on developing future leaders – in reality, once you’re part of the company, because they’re so flexible and open to what you want, it really is up to you make the most of the opportunity, whichever programme you’re on.”

    Thanks to Rolls-Royce and the Professional Excellence Programme for this case study. Read more inspiring stories from the Rolls-Royce graduate programmes website.

  • Victoria Martin

    Civil and Architectural Engineering - University of Bath


    “I’m a Senior Structural Engineer at Expedition, which I joined after completing a Masters in Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Bath. I’ve worked on a wide range of projects from expanding, walking classrooms in London right through to multi-million pound cultural centres in Greece. I’m currently leading the design of two new school buildings in the UK and a public realm improvement project in London.”


    “I only discovered engineering as a career by chance. I really enjoyed maths and physics as well as product design at school but didn’t really know how to apply them to any particular career. I’ve always had a fascination with the built environment and understanding how things work, so when someone suggested Engineering as an option it all seemed to click into place. I originally wanted to study architecture so found a university course that focused very heavily on design and team interaction, working daily with architecture students. Working in engineering gives you the opportunity to really influence the world around you on a big scale, using your skills to produce sustainable solutions to everyday problems. In my particular sector, buildings can change the local skyline and environment and improve the lives of local people. I have so many memories attached to particular places and I hope that, one day, some of the things I’ve helped to create will become significant to other people.”


    “As engineers we’re often trying to build with less structure and more efficient materials. This means pushing the boundaries of what’s been done before, normally step by step  but occasionally in huge leaps and bounds. It’s really important to keep resource scarcity in mind and ensure that what we’re building is really what’s required, responding to local environmental conditions and resources as much as possible. Efficiency is a huge challenge in a modern world, where big is not always best.

    Personally, I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of changing people’s perceptions of me. As a petite female, they often assume I must be on work experience but are generally open to changing their minds once they realise I know what I’m talking about.”


    “I’ve always had a passion for education and have worked with the Royal Institution to develop their ‘Engineering Master class’ programme of half day lectures delivered to secondary school students, which has been a huge success and is now being rolled out nationwide. I’m also keen to influence the future of our industry and through my involvement with the Institution of Structural Engineers, now sit on their Council and will join the Board from 2014.
    Outside of work, I like to find the time to participate in sports such as rock climbing and horse riding, though I’m equally happy walking the dog with my husband. I also love traveling and experiencing new cultures, particularly with regards to food. I find cooking very therapeutic and my colleagues in the office are always happy when I’ve had a baking weekend!”


    “If you’re naturally inquisitive and want to make a difference in the world, then engineering might be the career for you. There are a range of different sectors as well as a number of routes into the industry, such as apprenticeships and degree courses. It’s worth researching the options to work out which would suit your skill set best – even degrees for a particular discipline can vary from very design based to very technical.”

    For more information on Expedition visit their website www.expedition.uk.com

  • Eur Ing Dr Phebe Mann

    Winner, UKRC Woman of Outstanding Achievement Tomorrow’s Leader Award

    Eur Ing Dr Phebe Mann, a Cambridge graduate, is the first and only woman to hold five professional engineering qualifications concurrently in the UK. Phebe was the winner of the UKRC Woman of Outstanding Achievement Tomorrow’s Leader Award in 2011. She is a senior lecturer in civil engineering, highway and transportation at the University of East London.


    Phebe always wanted to be an engineer because she enjoyed finding creative ways to solve technical problems. She is inspired by fascinating structures such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and is greatly inspired by remarkable engineers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel.


    Phebe is very keen on introducing “engineering” into Girlguiding activities such as challenges in “constructing the tallest structures with straws and paper”, “building the lightest beam to carry the heaviest load”, and many others.

    Girl Guides Building a Bridge

    The campers were trying hard to keep themselves dry, but had great fun designing and building a swing bridge crossing a stream at camp. The motivation was to design and build it as magnificent as the Swing Bridge over River Tyne!!!


    Phebe feels that her most rewarding achievement is to support students who have to overcome great difficulties in order to be successful in science, engineering & technology (SET), and ultimately attain their goal. She finds teaching the Open University Engineering in Action Residential School very encouraging, especially supporting students who work so hard and are so determined to learn.

    Phebe’s vision for her future is to inspire developments in construction through training future engineers for the built environment and to contribute to engineering innovation. She intends to build on her achievements and commits herself to contribute to commercial and construction law with her knowledge and experience in technology and construction.


    Phebe would like to call on employers in SET to employ women at all levels of management and engineering “with no prejudice”. Don’t waste 50% of highly intelligent and excellent resources! Offer a family-friendly-flexible employment scheme to encourage women and men to join the industry.

    “If you are passionate about SET, discover your potential, seek opportunities, equip yourself, develop a positive learning attitude and commit yourself to be successful. Don’t be discouraged by failure: every success is built on many failures! Don’t give up if you believe you can do it.”

  • Debra Lam

    Senior Policy and Sustainability Consultant


    I love to travel, and am always inspired by the people I meet and places that I go. It is great to see a sense of pride and identity in a place, through its historic heritage, new economy and cultural assets. The key is how to maintain that strong unique sense of pride and identity in a place against traditional economic development forces. That is why I focus on sustainable development – you are trying to improve the quality of life without taking away their identity.


    Building sustainable development and addressing climate change are two of the greatest challenges in our day, and something I am continuingly working on. There is a massive inequality when it comes to these issues. The countries or people who are least responsible for climate change or emit the lowest carbon footprints, often are the most vulnerable to its impacts or lack the resources and knowledge to fully address it.

    I am continually working on these twin goals of sustainable development and climate resilience. It can be frustrating and challenging at times. I know I will never achieve it as you would complete a project or finish a building. These are ongoing goals, a process or path. I hope to continue to engage and support efforts in building sustainability and climate resilience.


    I am always encouraged by the people I work with. They are some of the smartest people in their field, but also very humbled and accessible. I do not hesitate to ask them for advice and questions on projects and work. They are also very willing to share their experiences and thoughts, and not afraid to speak their mind.


    I am motivated by trying to improve the quality of life for people, and not just for those who can afford it or are knowledgeable of it.


    “Shoot for the moon if you miss you will still be among the stars”

    I love this quote, as it reminds me to take risks, explore, and go outside my comfort zone.

    Thanks to UKRC and the WISE Campaign for this case study, follow the UKRC Blog for more inspiring stories

  • Becci Taylor

    Building Services Designer

    Becci has worked as a building services designer for 8 years, leading complex services designs on a range of education and cultural projects in the UK and internationally. She has significant experience of building services design utilising low energy technologies, and is particularly committed to the integrated design of buildings to enhance environmental performance. She is currently leading Arup’s services teams through construction of the Kimbell Art Gallery in Texas and the new Maltese Parliament building.

    Becci graduated with a first class degree in engineering from Cambridge, specializing in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. This led to work involving the physics within and around buildings and consultancy in urban design projects. Her work often involves the application of building physics through design supported by air flow, radiation based and dynamic thermal analysis studies. Becci is a chartered engineer with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers. She was listed in the the 2011 list of ‘35 Women under 35: A Vision of Enterprise’.


    Becci is enthusiastic about sustainability in construction and how this can be achieved by innovation and holistic design. She designed buildings in rural Ghana with no access to power and has also designed low energy solutions for high performance art galleries.

    Becci works on masterplan designs to reduce the energy consumption of urban development and improve user comfort. She led the microclimate and building services strategy for a masterplan in Doha. Through research, design and analysis, the design manipulated the sun and wind to enable a mixed use, walkable inner city. Becci writes and speaks on the subject of microclimate and passive design in the press and at industry conferences.


    One of Becci’s biggest challenges was designing a completely passive kindergarten in Ghana. Believing that collaborative total design has to start at the beginning of the design process, Becci designed the form and materiality of the building to be naturally very well lit, ventilated, quiet and comfortable with no energy use. This was achieved while collecting rainwater, designing for seismic activity and using sustainable materials. Alongside the technical performance, the school is designed as an optimal teaching environment and to revolutionize rural Ghanaian attitudes to construction. Every element in the building is functional but the building is attractive.


    A career in engineering is intellectually stimulating and creative. A career in the construction industry and particularly building services is full of opportunity and variety. The work brings the experience to meet many different people and see different places from the plant rooms of sky scrapers to construction sites in international locations. The role of a building services engineer includes creative design, sustainability direction, management of people and projects, collaboration, computational analysis, controls systems and much more. The influence of a building services engineer grows constantly and requires an understanding of building and urban issues including airflow and radiation, façade design, architecture, energy production and sustainable design.


    Becci believes in designing buildings that function efficiently within their environment and are informed by their environment. She also believes that the principles of functional construction must be a part of our future and teaches these subjects both to younger engineers in Arup and to students in the Architectural Association and on building services courses.

    Becci has spent time working with Forum for the Future researching the barriers to sustainable construction, and focusing on issues of information transfer. She understands the value of collaboration and has strong relationships with numerous architects. Becci also works closely with locally based contractors and engineers on international projects.


    “Becoming an engineer opens up many possibilities. Studying engineering trains your brain to solve problems and this can be applied in many fields. Building services engineering is a great field if you are interested in improving building sustainability and performance. You need to be happy working in teams to solve challenging problems.”

    Thanks to UKRC and the WISE Campaign for this case study, follow the UKRC Blog for more inspiring stories

  • Hayley Gryc

    Senior Structural Engineer

    Hayley joined Arup in 1998 as a pre-university trainee, who later sponsored her through Sheffield University where she studied Structural Engineering and Architecture. On leaving with a first class honours degree, she worked as an Architectural Assistant for a year before returning to Arup as a Graduate Engineer in 2004.

    Hayley is now a senior structural engineer who specialises in building design. She currently manages a large, complex Government project in Malta, which includes the redevelopment of their new Parliament building and open air theatre. Her role includes coordinating a large multidisciplinary internal team, acting as lead structural engineer and being the focal point for a number of external parties including local sub-consultants, the client, architect and project manager.


    Hayley has a strong interest in the design element of engineering and enjoys working closely with architects. She is an advocate for integrated and sustainable design and believes that by looking at the problem as a whole, an effective and holistic package can be produced.

    Hayley is passionate about engineering and how it can help society. She does a lot of work with charities and governmental organizations to add value to their construction projects all over the world and  believes that engineers who are sensitive to the needs of local culture and environment will provide a building product that is sustainable, functional and has long term value.


    One of Hayley’s biggest challenges came when she volunteered on a construction project in India in 2007 with Habitat for Humanity. It was there she recognised the benefits her engineering training and education could bring in such contexts. She then went on to manage an engineering team to review the Habitat for Humanity post-disaster rebuild programme in Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr. She continued to work with HFH building a strong relationship between them and Arup. She is a trustee and a mentor of The Thinking Development Charity, rebuilding a school after the Haiti earthquake, and also leads a team of engineers and architects to design and construct sustainable kindergarten schools in Ghana.


    To gain a better understanding of the industry and inspire and develop others, Hayley is a STEMNET ambassador, and runs education events in schools for both teachers and pupils. She has also lectured at Cambridge University, presents and writes papers for engineering and development conferences, and was an apprentice for the ICE President in 2008. Hayley currently sits on the ICE Best Practice Panel.

    Hayley says,

    “A career in engineering is exciting. It is a profession where there are so many different career paths, where you can adapt and change as you grow and develop. It’s a career where you can use both technical and creative skills together, not only to solve problems but to make a real impression on people’s experiences through innovative and appropriate buildings.”


    Hayley believes that it is important to motivate others to consider the local lifestyles and requirements of local communities. She spends a lot of time engaging with and influencing engineers to understand the impact of the processes and products they use.

    Hayley has always been interested in how she can help people in need and give something back to society. As an engineer she has been able to use her skills to help enhance people’s quality of life.


    “My advice is to choose something that inspires you and that you are passionate about. A career where you can continue to grow professionally is very satisfying. The construction industry is forever evolving and as an engineer you are continually learning and developing. Engineering allows you to be creative with science, discovering new boundaries as technology develops.”

    Thanks to UKRC and the WISE Campaign for this case study, follow the UKRC Blog for more inspiring stories

  • Rebekka Bishop

    Project Manager, Allen Vanguard and inventor of the Smart Plant Pot


    Rebekka works for a company called Allen Vanguard who design, develop and manufacture sophisticated products to counter-act the threat of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) devices. Products include robots and bomb suits. In parallel for working for the Pharmaceutical Company, Rebekka also worked for a company developing her own invention, the Smart Plant Pot.


    Rebekka’s father encouraged her at an early age to design and build models in his workshop. In addition to this, Rebekka’s Technology Teacher, Mr Ireland encouraged her throughout her time at secondary school to develop her engineering and design skills.


    As well as working for a company who supply lifesaving equipment to the Military and VIP’s, Rebekka also loves to share her story as an inventor and encourage individuals into Science and Technology.


    The advice Rebekka would give to young people interested in a similar profession:

    • If you believe you can succeed, you will
    • There is always another way of looking at a problem
    • Learn to trust your instincts
    • Learn to develop your skill sets – Employers look for transferable skills today, making you more employable
    Thanks to UKRC and the WISE Campaign for this case study, follow the UKRC Blog for more inspiring stories
  • Ruth Amos

    Owner, StairSteady Ltd

    My Mum has always been an inspiration to me. I never felt that being a women was a hindrance in any way because my Mum was like a Superwoman. She worked, looked after the family and acted as a pillar of the community. She has really inspired me.

    My technology teacher Mr Stokes really encouraged me to take StairSteady forward and introduced me to Reg who helped me make it happen. I’ve met many people along the way who have supported and guided me.

    Seeing the way that what I do affects peoples lives for the better, and the knowledge that my product can make people safer, and better able to live healthy lives in their own homes is a great motivator to me.

    If you believe in something never give up, and never give up what is important to you. For me, I have always stood by my morals and ethics.

  • Dave Cleaver

    Product Manager, Inspired Bicycles

    As a keen biker and recent Sports Technology graduate from Loughborough University, Dave Cleaver was perfectly positioned to identify a gap in the market and launch his own venture with an inspired new bicycle design. Dave has developed a new generation of bikes both for the niche extreme sport of trials biking, and for street mountain biking, where riders pit their skills against urban steps, ramps or walls.

    The skills gained during Dave’s Sports Technology degree supported his entrepreneurial ambitions as through the University he had access to both state-of-the-art sports technology research facilities and inspirational teaching staff. A Gatsby Charitable Foundation grant enabled him to launch a new range of bikes for his start-up company, Inspired Bicycles.

    Starting a business from scratch is undoubtedly a daunting prospect, particularly in the current economic climate. However, Dave’s innovative bicycle design was catapulted into the limelight after a YouTube video featuring the talented Scottish rider Danny MacAskill testing the bike to the extreme with a series of amazing stunts received over 28 million views since April 2009. From its humble beginnings, Dave’s business has grown rapidly and his products are now exported all over the world, across Europe, America, Canada, Australia and Japan.

    Dave’s advice is to be inquisitive and not be afraid to ask people questions about how things work. Whether you are starting your own business or designing a product, this will make your work more concise and efficient when it comes to working with suppliers or customers alike.

  • Tiphaine Brydniak

    Mechanical Engineering student, Imperial College

    Tiphaine had not considered a career in engineering until she discovered what it actually meant at around the age 16, thanks to an engineering education scheme. She got to work with EADS Astrium, and from this experience realised that engineering had the potential to include everything that she would be happy to continue studying at school and put into practice in working-life.

    Tiphaine likes that mechanical engineering is geared toward solving real-life problems, which makes the subject much more motivating. She also likes that the subject involves a lot of group-work and involves meeting lots of different types of people, such as clients, architects, other engineers.

    Tiphaine has found that one of the biggest challenges is learning to ‘think for yourself.’ The most important skill is the ability to think critically to solve a problem because that is the foundation of engineering, it’ll be part of everything you do. But be aware that critical thinking does not come overnight, it is developed through practice and dedication, and there is a lot of guidance along the way to help you develop this skill.

    Tiphaine recommends going on work placements, as she has found that there is just no substitute for real-world experience. So far she has completed two work placements, with different engineering companies and benefited from seeing directly all the different types of engineering that come together to make a project happen. Engineering has so many different sectors you could specialise in, so it helps to get a feel for them from an early age.

  • Maggie Aderin-Pocock

    Space Scientist and Science Communicator

    Ever since Maggie was a child she wanted to get into space.  Although this dream has never been realised, she feels as though she is currently doing the next best thing by building instrumentation that goes out into space.

    Maggie was not considered to be very bright during her early school years. She suffered from dyslexia, so her teachers did not think that she would be very academic.  But Maggie’s father told her that if she worked hard the sky was the limit.

    Maggie has been involved in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the world at the moment, such as climate change. She finds that her job is so much fun it doesn’t even feel like work.

    Maggie believes that having a passion in something is the most important criteria for pursuing a particular career and with hard work anything is possible.

  • Robyn Crerar

    Altitude and Orbit Control Systems Engineer

    Robyn always liked finding out about space and the planets. She now works with satellites that are launched into space.

    When Robyn was at school she had no idea what she wanted to pursue as a career. She kept her options open by choosing a mixture of subjects she was good at and that she enjoyed. Then by chance she came across a degree called Planetary Science, which seemed like the perfect subject for her.

    Robyn’s parents always encouraged her to think about going to University.

    Robyn did not consider a career in engineering until she spoke to a girl who was studying space craft engineering and found it really interesting. So her advice would be to speak to people who are already involved in the engineering profession.

  • Joanna Campbell

    Global Process Centre Manager at PepsiCo

    Jo’s story: The apprentice now training the apprentices

    Jo Campbell joined the Walkers crisps site in Leicester in 1990 when she was only 18. Today, she manages a team of 25, including four apprentices. She’s a manager at one of four global Research & Development (R&D) centres for snacks that PepsiCo has in the world. She also leads the company’s STEM ambassadors programme in Leicester, where she visits local schools and helps students understand how STEM subjects translate into the world of business.

    “When I was in high school, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. My parents were pushing me to join the army or the navy, but I knew I wanted to try something else. So I applied for an apprenticeship at Walkers Crisps. I always enjoyed science and I knew at Walkers that I could use some of those skills to do something fun and interesting with crisps.”

    Jo has now just celebrated her 25th anniversary at PepsiCo. She initially spent four years as an apprentice in the Supply Chain team, and then moved on to join the Research and Development (R&D) team at PepsiCo’s global snacks R&D centre located at Leicester, where she has been ever since. During this time she has had the opportunity to travel around the world, designing and launching new products for PepsiCo’s snacks division.

    “To be a STEM ambassador at PepsiCo, you need to be passionate about trying to embed STEM skillsets in younger people and encourage people to carry on learning those subjects. It’s something I’m really passionate about, having gone on the same journey and understanding where it can take you. We go into schools to try and get students to keep studying science, maths and the other STEM subjects. Sometimes when you’re younger its not obvious how these subjects can lead you into an interesting and fulfilling career. We try to address that by also supporting teachers with their syllabus so that children can see the value these subjects bring when they go into business.”

    PepsiCo has over 70 STEM ambassadors registered with STEMNET across the UK Supply Chain.

    “Apprenticeships give you one-of-a-kind training you can’t get sitting at a desk.”

    “Apprenticeships give you one-of-a-kind training you can’t get sitting at a desk. They give people the opportunity to learn on the job which is so important in the manufacturing industry. It helped me understand from the ground up all about the business, designing prototypes and truly understanding the application of science in a business context.”

    While apprenticeships are often associated with young people, PepsiCo also offers more mature people the opportunity to enter apprenticeships to enable them to explore other careers.

    “One of the apprentices we have at the moment is in his 40s and came from our Supply Chain team. After working within R&D for a few years, he wanted to explore new opportunities in R&D so we decided to support him with an Advanced Apprenticeship which enables him to complete a part time food science and technology degree at university. This means we’re able to give him on the job training while equipping him with the technical knowledge he needs as well .”

    Women are still underrepresented in STEM careers

    At PepsiCo UK, over 40% of senior roles across the business are filled by women. Over half of the R&D team based in the UK are women and two thirds of the UK executive team are women.

    “We have a great track record at PepsiCo for having female employees working in engineering, but attracting females into STEM roles continues to be a struggle. At the other end, we’ve found many female apprentices don’t always want to continue to work as a full-time engineer.

    “It’s why we’re so passionate about going into schools and helping more students understand from an early age that engineering can be for everyone. We also aim to provide women with more awareness of the STEM careers available to them, by showcasing talented women in the business who are already making incredible contributions to the sector today.”

    “Nothing’s impossible in a company like PepsiCo”

    Jo is now moving into a global R&D health and safety role, with PepsiCo helping her complete her NEBOSH Diploma, a globally recognised qualification on health and safety to help her move into her new role.

    “I wasn’t trained as a food scientist, but PepsiCo helped me gain training on the job in the product development team so I could progress within R&D. They helped me to complete part-time study in manufacturing engineering at De Montfort University, while also working full time at PepsiCo. Nothing’s impossible in a company like PepsiCo. If you want to do it, and you have the passion, the business will do their best to support you to do it.”

  • Orla Murphy

    Audio Engineer at Jaguar Landrover

    Orla is an audio engineer at Jaguar Land Rover. She completed an MEng degree in Electronics with Music at the University of Glasgow, and now uses both aspects of her degree in her day to day job, optimising the listening experience and developing audio features in cars.


    Orla has always loved science and problem solving. Growing up on a farm in Ireland, everyone in her family was really interested in science and how the world works. Orla also always played music from a young age. She was inspired and excited in secondary school by doing practical experiments in chemistry and physics, learning the theory of how things work and then seeing the proof materialise in front of her eyes!

    Orla thinks that engineering is a really exciting field as it is all about problem solving, tackling serious issues and changing the world by improving the lives of people in it. It is inspiring to think of the advances made in industry every year, for example new medicines, infrastructure, and the rapid development of technology, and how this influences of peoples everyday lives.  When she was a child, people wrote letters, now people send texts instantly across the world. So it is exciting to think of the possibilities in years to come.


    Working in an automotive company, the biggest challenge is teamwork. A production car is one product, but hundreds of teams have to work together to create it. Different teams have different priorities and everyone must work together to come up with the optimum solution for the final product.

    For example, Orla works in Audio Equalisation or EQ, where the aim of team is for the customer to have the most amazing listening experience possible. For them, this would ideally mean really specific placement of speakers and microphone for each listening position. However, due to safety constraints and the requirements of other teams, they also have to take factors such as weight, ergonomics, safety and cost into account and come up with an optimum solution to suit the car as a whole. Then, once the final design is in place, the team come in and utilise special software, techniques and our own experience to improve the listening environment and make it as ideal as possible.


    “Consider how broad engineering can be. It is sometimes perceived as being all about bridges or cars, but in reality engineering is one of the broadest industries out there. For example, biomedical engineers solve medical problems and improve equipment that save lives, electronic engineers are developing technology so rapidly that it is impacting on the lives of everyone in the world, product development engineers are entrepreneurs developing products for problems, mechanical engineers are developing aircraft, machinery and infrastructure, and civil engineers are building tunnels, tubes, and infrastructure for high speed trains. It is a career that is always evolving and the possibilities are endless.”

    “My next piece of advice would be to organise work shadowing or work experience. Don’t be afraid to try something, even if you think it isn’t exactly the area you want to work in, it is all about giving it a try and seeing if you like it or not. Keep an open mind and think about the variety of careers that are possible if you become an engineer.”

  • Emma McDaid

    Chartered Mechanical Engineer, EDF Energy

    Emma is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer at EDF Energy and is currently working on the Hinkley Point C Project, the first of the next generation of nuclear power stations in the UK. She is an Area Construction Manager in the Nuclear Island team and has already overseen the build of the first facility at the site, the 11kV switchroom, as well as the early enabling works. She is now mobilising the temporary jetty project and supporting the planning for the Balance of Nuclear Island mechanical erection.

    Before working for EDF Energy, Emma was a Consultant with Atkins Ltd and had a varied career as a Project Manager working across many industries, on projects such as: Airbus A380 crashworthiness; heart valve sensitivity analyses; Airbus A400M design and manufacture; Sizewell Emergency Response Centre; and many more…


    They say variety is the spice of life and this is certainly the main motivator for Emma’s career. Starting out as a Consultant provided her with multiple opportunities to work in different industries, with many clients, on a number of different projects. It was a surprise, but she found that the Nuclear sector became her preferred industry to work within. Unlike other industries, Emma found that Nuclear always offers up unique issues that need bespoke solutions, cutting edge thinking and technologies, and an adaptive yet controlled way of working. Involvement in the construction of the next generation of nuclear power stations is just the latest in the next set of new experiences for Emma, who relishes the opportunity to continually learn from others and improve herself.


    Emma, like all Engineers and Project Managers, faces many challenges every day. In fact, this goes with the territory and is what gets her out of bed in the morning! Being a Project Manager means stirring a big pot of stakeholders, tasks and issues and balancing them all with the time, cost, and quality delivery pressures that are ever present in a project. However, what Emma has found most challenging throughout her career has been the need to frequently prove her capability and value to her peers and managers, particularly as she has moved between different roles and projects many times. Emma finds that being resilient, head-strong, and having self-belief in your abilities is vital to ensure you enjoy your work and can keep driving onward and upward.


    It’s often difficult to decide which way to turn when thinking about your career. Emma says that a route into Engineering actually keeps a lot of your options open and that qualifications in the subject are highly thought of by other professions should you decide to take a new path in the future. Being both a versatile and a highly specialised career path, depending on your preferences and abilities, makes Engineering subjects very attractive and should be considered by students who have a practical and mathematical mindset. Emma advises that no one be put off if those around you don’t know much about the subject and might not be very supportive – give it a go, you might surprise yourself and doors will open!

  • Rabeb Othmani

    Software Engineer, Microsoft

    Rabeb is a software engineer working currently for Microsoft as part of the MixRadio client development team. She is experienced at analysis and design of databases and user interfaces, agile working within an agile environment. She also has experience and knowledge of software design methodologies, object oriented design, and software design patterns applied to enterprise software.


    Rabeb is inspired by the way technology can change the world, facilitates our lives and solve problems. She uses technology as a contribution to change the world for the better. She enjoys working with great challenging peers and shares the knowledge with others. Rabeb does a lot of work with organizations and user groups to attract more women and girls into engineering and technology.  She believes women can do as well as men in STEM and they can be great engineers. She believes women can excel in engineering. And that pushes her to work even harder to be a good woman-in-tech role model.


    In computing and engineering, every day brings new challenges. Solving problems, innovation and creativity are the ultimate goals. As a software engineer, Rabeb finds herself tackling a variety of problems daily from trying to guarantee the best user experience for the end users to thinking about the best approaches to design software. One thing she really enjoys is that moment of glory solving a problem after investing time and researching on it. It is so fulfilling. Technology is changing and moving fast, so as an engineer, Rabeb needs to be up to date and willing to deal with these changes. She never stops learning and leveraging her skills. She is aware that technical skills are not enough. In the software industry, you should be a good team player and have the necessary communication skills.


    “Don’t be afraid of the word ‘Engineering’, it is fun and challenging. And please don’t be afraid of failure, it’s the only way to learn and move forward. Never stop learning and work hard because ‘Success is not for the lazy’. Travel and don’t be afraid of exploring new horizons.” Rabeb left her homeland just to pursue her career dreams here in the UK. “For the women who want to have a career in engineering, always speak up and make your voice is heard. Don’t be afraid of the male dominated field, you will be just fine.”

  • Harriette Stone

    Earthquake Engineer researcher, University College London and World Bank

    Harriette is an Earthquake Engineer working as a researcher at University College London in partnership with the World Bank. Harriette studies the ways that a buildings’ structural vulnerability to earthquakes is assessed, with the aim of reducing the risk to people in future earthquakes. She has  previously worked at the leading engineering consultancy Arup and worked on projects such as the new Cancer Treatment Centre at Guys Hospital, London and the refurbishment of the iconic One Embankment Place, also in London.


    I originally decided to study engineering because I enjoyed maths and physics at school and my mum told me that there would always be a need for engineers. When I started at university I didn’t really know what engineers did! Luckily I loved it, and very quickly knew I wanted to be a structural engineer, inspired by amazing buildings all over the world, from skyscrapers to ‘grand design’ houses. In my final year at university the earthquake in Haiti happened, and I realised that it was the lack of proper engineering that was responsible for the vast loss of life and suffering; if structural engineers had designed and built all of those buildings, they wouldn’t have collapsed and killed all of those people. From that point on I wanted to be an earthquake engineer, so that I could try and help prevent disasters like that happening again. I now work with some amazing people who have dedicated their lives to trying to better understand the effects of earthquakes in order to reduce the scale of disasters – which is pretty inspiring.


    As with any job there are challenges, but as an engineers I love solving problems!

    With research you are constantly encountering the boundaries of scientific knowledge or experience, so each day has its own new challenges that may not have ever been solved before. It is hard work, but it is also very rewarding to solve a problem for the first time.

    On a more practical note, I am currently working with local engineers in Central America, so the language barriers can be a significant challenge, despite my fairly good Spanish. I also work with the World Bank who are based in Washington D.C. so there are time difference issues to deal with too.

    Also, some research projects can sometimes involve spending time working on your own, as opposed to on a project team with constant interactions, so having a good network of other researchers in similar positions is invaluable – there is always someone who will go for a coffee break with you in a university!


    My advice would be to do it, without hesitation! Engineering is one of those subjects that has such a wide range of opportunities and options; you will always find an area that interests you and that will give you a really fulfilling career.

    Remember, engineers are people who build the world that we live in, including: the computer that you are reading this on; the building/car/train in which you are currently sat; the power stations and infrastructure to deliver energy to your home; the machinery that is used to produce the food you eat; the satellites that orbit the earth; and so much more! All of these things were designed and built by engineers.

    If you like learning how things work and making new things then you are already an engineer and we need you to help us solve the next generation of problems. And finally, don’t be put off by thinking you need to be the best at maths – it helps, but there are many careers in engineering that use less maths than you realise.

  • Mamta Singhal

    Project Quality Engineer, Mattel

    Mamta Singhal grew up in Glasgow and moved to London at the age of 22 to work as a Design and Development Engineer, she has a BEng in Product Design Engineering, MSc in Integrated Product Development and a MBA. Mamta currently work for Mattel as a Project Quality Engineer covering Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia.


    I love making things and seeing great products, this really inspired me to want to pursue  a career in engineering.  My dad is a physicist and my mum is very artistic so was keen to use both my creative and technical skills and so Product Design Engineering seemed like a natural move.  During my schools days I remember being drawn to the science and art departments, as I loved seeing new ideas come to life and experimenting and testing different ways of thinking.

    Working on the ‘softer’ side of engineering is great as I liaise with business teams, designers for external organisation on a regular basis and this allows me to use my  technical skills as well as tap into my fondness of meeting people. I work on some great brands such as Barbie, Thomas & Friends, Fisher-Price and there is a great team of talented creative people and marketing experts around the regions that I get to work with as well.


    Engineers are often unappreciated and not always valued in the UK. The academic journey to become a professionally qualified engineers can be tough and it is important to continually invest in updating your skills. Compared to other professions the salary and general attitude from the public isn’t as positive as it would be in other European countries. Another challenge is tackling the negative image that engineers have, they are often seen as ‘geeks’ yet a good engineer can be strong in a technical field and also a clear communicator and that can be a  powerful combination in business. The good news is that I have seen a steady progression in how engineers are treated and I am positive that over time the engineering community will make a stronger mark on the UK business world.


    Endeavouring in a career in engineering is a great move, join the field because you are passionate and love seeing change happen. There are many challenges and frustrations but I think it is an exciting time to be part of this profession. We need people who can generate economic growth and  technology and engineering related field are key to make this happen, service based professions can only grow so far but technically minded professions can make big leaps. My main piece of advice for anyone considering working in  engineering is it is a very enjoyable field that is always changing, personally, I get a buzz from seeing products going from a sketch or a concept to an actual manufactured product.  It’s also important for an engineer to be a well-rounded person who is a good communicator, who can work in a team and is comfortable working with general business people.

  • Jaz Rabadia

    Mechanical Engineer and Chartered Energy Manager, Debenhams Plc

    Jaz is a Mechanical Engineer and Chartered Energy Manager who works for Debenhams Plc. As Energy Manager at Debenhams, Jaz is responsible for energy and water consumption across 170 sites. Her responsibilities include buying energy from the wholesale markets, negotiating energy supply contracts, implementing energy efficiency engineering projects, setting accurate store budgets, developing environmental engagement tools and making sure the business complies with all environmental legislation.


    Like most students, Jaz had no idea of what she wanted to do when she ‘grew up’. She chose engineering to keep her career options open and it seemed to tie in quite nicely with the A-levels she had taken in maths, design technology, chemistry and sports science.
    Jaz was aware that a degree in engineering would impress future employers and that there was a real shortage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) skills in the UK. Having researched engineering applications she quickly realised that by studying engineering, she could apply her creativity, problem solving and communication skills.
    After taking modules in Energy Management and Renewable Energy at University it was then that she understood how engineering could be applied to make a difference for the world’s future energy demands. She is passionate about raising the awareness of careers in energy and does this through her role as a STEM Ambassador, visiting schools and colleges to talk about her job and career journey.


    Using energy more efficiently and finding cleaner ways to generate is a global challenge. The UK government has set some very stretching targets and Energy Managers will be essential in helping the UK achieve these. As an energy manager Jaz has to engage with lots of different people working across lots of different teams. This requires being able to translate technical energy and engineering information into everyday language for all to understand. One of the biggest challenges she faces is implementing energy saving projects in a busy retail environment and communicating energy good practice to thousands of colleagues across 170 stores.
    A variety of methods are used to engage store colleagues in reducing energy. Through the internal website, manager briefings and energy focus months – colleagues are provided with simple hints and tips to help them reduce energy and manage costs within their stores.


    The misconception that all engineers walk around wearing hard hats in boiler rooms, with greasy hands and spanners in their back pockets is outdated. Today’s engineers can hold far more executive roles and these types of engineering roles have increased significantly in recent years.

    One piece of advice Jaz often offers to students is; ‘opportunities exist in everything that you do and every conversation that you have. Over the years my success has not been down to the answers I have given, but the questions that I have asked. It’s important to be inquisitive, be hungry for knowledge and never stop learning, whatever your chosen career path‘.

  • Laura Peach

    Mechanical Engineer, Centrica Energy

    Laura is a Mechanical Engineer who works for Centrica Energy.  She currently helps look after Centrica’s fleet of wind turbines so that they continue to work as well in 20 years as they do now.


    Laura fell into engineering more by luck than judgement since she didn’t really know what engineering was until she applied to university.  Her principle was to study at A-level the subjects that were both interesting to her and would be useful in the world of work, not necessarily the subjects she would get the best grades in.  Once Laura had got stuck into her engineering degree at the University of Sheffield, and having done a bit of travelling to developing countries, she realised studying engineering would offer a broad range of opportunities in her career because engineering was as important to human development and well-being as medicine.


    The nature of Laura’s role means that her main challenges come from solving problems that arise which sometimes haven’t been predicted or planned for.  Offshore wind power generation is inherently complex due to the fact that you can’t easily just go and have a look to see the arrangement of the equipment or check the equipment serial number to help work out how to fix it.  This means having to work with multiple people from various teams to solve the problem, therefore the ability to communicate effectively with others is vital.  This along with the fact that offshore wind turbines involve the use of a range of relatively new technology means that working to reduce the cost of offshore wind is a real challenge in a world where developing viable technologies for the production of low-carbon energy is high on the agenda.


    Working in a relatively new industry means that the work Laura does can really make a difference in the future.  At the moment Renewables world is fast paced and ever changing so it is easy for Laura to apply her knowledge to make improvements even though that knowledge may have be gained in a relatively short space of time.


    It important for Laura to enjoy her work, and she finds a lot of satisfaction in working in an industry which provides a fundamental product required for human development: energy.  Amongst many other things, energy is vital for a good education which in itself is an enabler to human development.  Laura is motivated by the fact that she will be able to use her skills in the future to help those who don’t have access to the energy they require for a comfortable life.


    “If you’re new to engineering as a subject, explore it!  There are so many different types and aspects of engineering so it’s likely you’ll find something you’d be interested in.  You’ll soon realise the opportunities it could offer you, but you need to do this for yourself rather than take someone’s word for it.”

  • Laura Lilley

    Offshore wind developer, Centrica


    Laura has always been fascinated by the natural world and heavy industry, and finds the interaction between the two hugely exciting. She firmly believes that society does need these large infrastructure projects (she wouldn’t dream about becoming the stereotypical Eco-warrior) but believes we can build them in less damaging ways. Striving to make a difference is Laura’s real inspiration and being involved in large scale projects at the planning stage gives her chances to make a difference to how we see the environment in which we build and treat it with more respect.

    From an early age Laura was always interested in science and the world around her, probably helped along by her father who answered the question ‘how does a radiator get hot?’ with an hour long monologue explaining conduction, convection and radiation – what was more confusing to her mother was that Laura listened to every word!

    Following a degree in biology, Laura decided to enter the energy industry to marvel at the incredible feats of engineering and to make a real difference to the environment. Laura is inspired on a daily basis by the people around her – after two years of trying she still can’t wrap her head around how we can put massive structures in the sea…from a ship on legs…and within 1mm of where it’s meant to be – it’s hard not to be inspired by people who do that every day!


    In any profession there are always challenges and opportunities, possibly the biggest difficulty Laura has faced has been transitioning from the perfectionism drilled into her by a biology degree (inaccuracy in a lab can spell disaster) to a more realistic ‘that’s good enough’ attitude required by the project management style role she is currently in (the 80:20 rule is brilliant – 80% of the result takes 20% of the effort).

    Being involved at the planning stage of a project can throw lots of challenges at you in a short space of time but making decisions that will affect the project for the rest of its lifetime is an incredible feeling, especially when you can make a decision that fits your values!
    During a tough day, the best pick me up Laura can hear is someone saying they believe in a greener future for the energy industry, whether that’s wind farms, nuclear or just cleaner, more efficient ways of producing and using oil and gas.

    Laura has a number of colleagues that can always be relied upon for support and encouragement and to help develop skills, expertise and most importantly, self-belief and confidence. Laura was very quickly aware of the importance of this type of support and almost immediately became involved with a number of STEM projects to help and support young people thinking about continuing studies in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.


    Laura’s motivation comes from a strong desire to make the world a better place, she is determined that species should not become extinct because someone has cut a corner which has meant a large project has been wasteful or hugely damaging to the environment. New challenges and a culture of challenge and innovation keeps Laura fresh while hobbies including walking, cycling and horse riding give Laura the extra motivation we all need when things aren’t quite going to plan!


    If you want to do something, whether it’s studying maths at school or building your first skyscraper, do it whole heartedly in the knowledge it is the right thing to do and make it absolutely incredible. It is always better to regret something you did do than something you didn’t do, and you may as well enjoy the journey!
    The only barriers to what you want to do are the ones you put there yourself. I was brought up in the knowledge that there is nothing in this world I can’t do and I truly believe that to be the case for everyone. I hear too many people say I can’t do that because I’m a woman or because I’m too young or because I’ve never done it before…a generation ago that may have been the case but in our world anything is possible.
    The most important thing to do in your career is trust your instincts and above all else, smile.

  • Sakthy Selvakumaran

    Civil-Structural Engineer specialist


    When Sakthy was at school, she spent time trying to figure out what job she could do that would help people and improve people’s lives. At first she considered becoming a medic as it seemed like a well-respected career with good job prospects and, most importantly for her, fulfilled that side of her that wanted to help people and make a direct difference in their lives. She believes that that a career in engineering can also tick all of these boxes. She realised that she could also have a profound impact through engineering in addressing the wider issues that, when left unattended, result in the need for medical treatment. There is scope for a wider reaching impact to thousands in preventing, rather than treating disease, through basic infrastructure.


    Sakthy was drawn into engineering because it is a profession that allows her to work on addressing some of society’s most pressing challenges, both within the UK and around the world. The profession is based around solving problems: from maintaining and upgrading transport links to developing new sources of energy, as well as the added challenges of advising and convincing society and the government of our future challenges and present solutions.


    “If you are passionate about working on something, people in engineering are always happy to share knowledge that they have, and give you opportunities to learn more. There are many paths through engineering, so if you find one that isn’t for you, don’t be afraid to talk to other engineers who will help you find your path.”

    Sakthy has had the opportunity to work on developing renewable energy technology, designing low-cost earthquake-resistant housing for remote mountainous regions of Peru, and improving technologies to facilitate access to water in the slums of East Africa. She has also contributed to large transport infrastructure projects – building and maintaining the bridges, railways, roads and airports that keep Britain, and the world, moving. And all of this happened in her first three years after graduation!


    “Don’t fall for the idea that there is a “typical Engineer”; and certainly don’t think that this is a career that involves quietly sitting in the corner of your office and crunching numbers! There is so much more to being a successful civil engineer, and so many more opportunities. From meetings with clients and project partners, to travel across the world, to 3-D drawing to keeping up to date with new technologies, materials and concepts. The simple fact is there are far too many opportunities to get bored with your day job as a Civil Engineer.”

  • Liz Rowles

    MSc Ultra Precision Technologies – Cranfield University


    “I chose the Professional Excellence Programme because of its strong technical focus. It allowed me to apply all the things I had learned at university. I also felt it was important to develop my technical expertise at the beginning of my career. Although I’m keen to become a manager at some point, I know I’ll have the chance to acquire those skills later on. That’s one of the best things about Rolls-Royce. There are so many opportunities here for career development — you never feel pigeonholed or restricted.


    “I’ve completed six placements on this programme, and each one has given me a different experience. I’ve worked in highly specialist roles like Materials and Manufacturing. I’ve seen first-hand how our engines are repaired at our plant in Indianapolis. I’ve even had the chance to work on high-level strategic projects – something I never envisaged myself doing. That was on my third attachment, where I contributed to a report on the company’s purchasing strategy. For an engineer like me, it was a real eye-opener. I got to see how Rolls-Royce works as a commercial enterprise.


    “Because the placements only last three months, they feel a bit like a rollercoaster. The first few weeks of a new placement are always a bit daunting because everything’s new. It’s an incredibly steep learning curve. Then, as soon you start getting the hang of it all, you’re whisked off to the next placement to start the process all over again. It’s a programme that continually challenges you and pushes you beyond your comfort zone.

    “I’m now five months into my first proper role. I’m working as a Materials Application Engineer in the Aerospace division. I support the work of two main teams: Transmissions, Structures & Drives and Turbines. I basically advise the teams on materials and processes for the design, test, manufacture and repair of engine components. It’s a constant balancing act. One material might be strong and really good at high temperatures, but it might also be heavy and expensive. There’s so much still for me to learn. I can see myself working in this function for a long while yet.”

    Thanks to Rolls-Royce and the Professional Excellence Programme for this case study. Read more inspiring stories from the Rolls-Royce graduate programmes website

  • Jamie-Leigh Clayton

    Assistant Signalling Design Engineer, Invensys Rail

    Inspiration & Encouragement

    Jamie-Leigh Clayton discovered engineering after a year studying for her A-levels. Unsure as to where she was heading, she had chosen subjects she thought she’d like, but after considering focusing on finance realised she would have to change all of her A-Levels and began to feel quite lost. Then her dad gave her some information on an apprenticeship with Westinghouse Rail Systems Ltd (now Invensys Rail Ltd) and her life changed forever.

    “I won the special merit award at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards having applied after hearing from a colleague about the awards. I thought it could be quite good as you get the opportunity to network, plus go into schools and promote engineering – something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been into a local school on an industrial day and really enjoyed it, so the chance to do more sounded really great.”


    Jamie-Leigh knew that a career in engineering could provide many opportunities, such as a good work-life balance, the chance to work across the UK and abroad as well as not being chained to a desk. She then went on to discover how much she enjoyed engineering and the intellectual challenge that it provided.


    “Don’t make any assumptions about jobs in engineering and jobs in general, always make sure you find out about them properly first and talk to people about them! You may be surprised by what you find out and by your own reaction to them! Apprenticeships are definitely a fantastic idea, especially if like me you are unsure as to what you want to do!”

    Interest and Hobbies

    Swimming, ice skating and mainly spending quality time with my 2year old daughter and partner – even if it’s just trips to the local park or sitting playing with toys/games as a family.

  • Charlotte Joyce MEng (Hons) MIET

    Aircraft Engineering Officer, 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps


    I have always been interested in STEM subjects and applied to Welbeck College (The Army’s Sixth Form College for potential Technical Officers, now the Defence Sixth Form College) whilst studying my GCSEs. I spent my Sixth Form years at Welbeck where the emphasis was on gaining a strong foundation in mathematics and physics alongside other A Level subjects and leadership development activities. I visited a number of Army Units during this time and became particularly interested in the main battle tanks and large pieces of equipment used by troops. Wanting to support this equipment and travel the world I applied for Army sponsorship to study engineering at University and was successful.

    I really thrive on working as part of a team and leading highly motivated men and women. To remain focussed I ensure that I dedicate time to my own development. Attending lectures and speaking to highly accomplished individuals is my way of doing this. In the past few years I have been inspired by Eliza Manningham-Buller, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and James Dyson.


    My role supplying airworthy battle winning helicopters on world wide operations and leading professional engineering soldiers in dangerous and challenging environments has been the highlight of my career. Meeting a different challenge each day, whether it be restoring airworthiness following battle damage in the desert of Afghanistan to investigating saline corrosion whilst embarked at sea off the coast of Libya, I draw on the basic engineering principles learnt during my degree studies, military engineering courses and from working alongside a range of personnel. As an engineer I draw on these sources of information to make engineering decisions, provide advice and direction, and develop improvements to the equipment I support, this will result in increased equipment capability, safer working practices and more robust platforms capable of operating across a range of demanding environments.


    Men and women entering engineering face similar challenges. Although still outnumbered by men in many STEM sectors, there are an increasing number of woman entering engineering and operating at managerial and strategic levels. Engineers shape the environment we live in and as an exciting and continually developing field it requires enthusiastic, intelligent people from all walks of life.

    Winning the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award in 2011 was a real honour and I am now involved in promoting engineering as an exciting career at schools, career events and within industry whilst also continuing to serve as an Aircraft Engineering Officer in the British Army.


    A career in engineering has allowed me to combine my interest in technology and the way we interact with our surroundings with driven, intelligent personnel in order to make a change.

    With such a diverse range of opportunities available and many projects now taking on a multi disciplined approach it is important to gain as much experience early on in your training. Summer placements and voluntary work is key to this and will be invaluable to securing the job you want.

    “Leading highly driven and competent engineering teams requires a high level of integrity and strong personal and professional values. Invest time and energy into developing all aspects of your team and don’t forget your own continual professional development and enrichment activities.”

    Interests and Hobbies

    Although deployed on operations for the majority of the last year, Charlotte has managed to maintain her interest and participation in downhill skiing, scuba diving, orienteering and Geocaching. A recent convert to following low impact living initiatives she has completed several livestock keeping courses in preparation for rearing her first animals later on in the year.


    After completing a 4 year Master of Engineering (Civil) degree at the University of Bristol in 2004 Charlotte attended the year long Commissioning Course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2005 and commissioned into the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). After learning to drive and command armoured vehicles she deployed to Canada for 18 months to command a platoon of military and civilian technicians supporting British Army Battle Group training exercises. Involved in all aspects of equipment support she led Lean engineering initiatives, identified modifications required to convert a fleet of 100 commercial off the shelf vehicles into a safety support role and also took part in a military adventurous training exercise to the Arctic Circle. On return to the UK in 2007 she was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned to the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering where she was responsible for 190 trainee Vehicle Mechanics and for leading a 2 month maintenance package to Nepal; repairing medical and dental equipment in remote locations with a team of REME soldiers. Selected to train as an Aircraft Engineering Officer she then completed the REME Officers’ Long Aeronautical Engineering Course in July 2009 and was assigned to 4 Regiment Army Air Corps where she immediately deployed to Arizona to complete pre deployment training. Deploying in command of the UK Attack Helicopter Engineering Detachment in May 2010 to Afghanistan she was responsible for the maintenance and airworthiness of 10 Apache Attack Helicopters and the 55 engineering and support personnel.

    In April 2011 when the UK Government committed UK Apache Attack Helicopters to Operation Unified Protector she deployed to Libyan territorial waters onboard HMS OCEAN with 5 Apache helicopters. During the inaugural operational deployment of Apache aircraft in the maritime role she was responsible for the 42 strong engineering and support team and for the continued airworthiness of the aircraft in the testing maritime environment. She was named the Institute of Engineering and Technology Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2011 for her work supplying airworthy battle winning helicopters on worldwide operations and leading soldiers in dangerous and challenging environments.

  • Emily Nicholls

    Student, EDT


    Emily always had a keen interest in repairing things, sometimes taking them apart just to see how they worked. One summer she built a barbecue for her family that was used again and again. At school, she particularly enjoyed her resistant materials lesson.

    Additionally, Emily has a strong interest in astronomy and attended ‘star parties’ at a local school. Although this initially involved learning the arrangement and position of stars, she found she actually preferred discovering about the stars themselves; their matter and behaviour.


    Emily won the prestigious National YINI ‘Contribution to the Business’ award for her project on disposal of radioactive waste at Babcock International, which resulted in significant environmental and cost savings. This work was a national first and marked the start of a long-term investment in recycling for the company.

    One of the competition judges told her;

    “Congratulations on winning the Final of the Contribution to the Business Award last night. I know that you were a little hesitant about taking part, but you did so well Emily.

    “Your presentation was excellent, well prepared and thought out. I thought you handled some very difficult questions extremely well and with a professionalism and maturity of someone a lot older than yourself! You are a credit to Babcock Marine, YINI, your family and yourself.”


    Emily found her Year in Industry an unbeatable gap year experience. The placement gave her a greater understanding of how learning at University can be applied practically in the working world. During her YINI she also completed a wide variety of Physics-based tasks, which will help when studying Physics at University. Her YINI experience greatly boosted her confidence, stemming from mixing with so many new people, directors and industrials alike, as well as from her achievements. Above all, she has widened her opportunities significantly through the YINI scheme and the confidence the experience has brought Emily will be beneficial to every part of her life.


    Emily’s words of advice – gained from her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award experience is that the best way to keep people from arguing in a situation is by giving them clear tasks so that no one bickers over who does what. She also believes that time management skills are crucial to success.

  • Jack Wood

    Career Academy student, Derby College


    Jack Wood, a student from Derby College’s Professional Construction Career Academy, clinched a coveted job with a leading Midlands’ construction group following a summer internship. Jack was part of a group who benefited from being mentored by professionals from local construction companies, attended ‘Guru Lectures’ by construction experts, joined site visits and completed a six-week paid internship at a construction organisation.


    Jack was taken on by G F Tomlinson & Sons following his internship at G F Tomlinson Building and continues his studies part time at the College. He plans to progress onto a Foundation Degree in Professional Construction at the College in September.

    “I am really pleased that the opportunities given to me through the Career Academy has led to getting a job with G F Tomlinson. Shortly after my internship with G F Tomlinson Building in the summer I secured an interview with the ‘Sons’ branch of Tomlinson, and I am really enjoying working here.”


    “This is the best of both worlds for me – working and then continuing my qualifications at College; I want to go right through to degree level which I can do here in Derby and then do my final two years at Nottingham Trent University.

    “Building is in my blood with a lot of my family working in the industry but working for such a well known company as G F Tomlinson is more than I could have hoped for at my age. I am getting the chance to work on the tenders and contracts for all sort of big and exciting jobs including the West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire which is the biggest construction project outside the Olympics currently in the UK.”

    Derby College Professional Construction Career Academy

    Derby College Professional Construction Team Manager, David Kirkby,

    “We are delighted with Jack’s success and are confident that other members of the Career Academy will be following suit in the near future. The purpose of the programme is to give the students real work experience and show them all the career opportunities available to them in professional construction from experts in the industry.

    “The second cohort of ten students have just started their programme and Jack’s success has really spurred them on to go the extra mile and take full advantage of this fantastic opportunity to extend their studies and put them in touch with people in the industry who can help them in their future working lives.”

    To learn more about the Professional Construction course and thousands of others, visit www.derby-college.ac.uk

    For details of the Career Academy programme, visit www.careeracademies.org.uk

  • Yewande Akinola

    Environmental Services Engineer

    Yewande is an Environmental Services Engineer and works with Engineering consultancy Arup. She works in the Buildings design group and over the last four years has designed sustainable, renewable energy and water supply systems in buildings such as schools and offices.


    Yewande draws her inspiration from the great need for creative practical solutions in our world today. Sustainable energy supply, clean water supply, food supply, good transport systems, inspiring dwelling spaces are at the forefront of the needs of people in every country. Her role as an engineer puts her in a position to have direct positive impact towards meeting those needs.

    As a young student, she enjoyed building house models and hoped one day she would design buildings that were affordable, beautiful and comfortable. She was inspired to study Engineering after her mother, an Artist, explained the many options an Engineering background offered. She has never looked back and continues to enjoy the thrills and challenges of finding solutions for the developed and developing world.


    In Engineering, every challenge comes with an opportunity for innovation and creativity. In Yewande’s role, working on varied projects includes challenges that relate to the size of projects, the location, specific client requirements, the ambitions for the project and more. The great thing about Engineering is that the extra efforts, the extra time invested either by interaction or research in overcoming design challenges, have direct rewards. The world’s progress is in so many ways ‘time-lined’ by innovation and a response to challenges and there is a genuine un-hyped sense of satisfaction that comes from being a contributing part of that progress.


    Yewande receives a lot of encouragement from the people she works with. Recognition from awards also give her supportive encouragement that helps her nurture and grow her ideas. This has helped her develop her confidence and more than anything, she has learnt the significance and importance of encouraging others to progress their ideas and follow their dreams.


    Yewande is motivated by a personal aim to enjoy the work that she does and deliver excellent quality design. She believes creative, inspiring and attractive engineering solutions help keep her interested and motivated. She also infuses a part-time career in TV and radio and great love for life, people and cultures into her everyday life as an engineer.


    “Any career path in Engineering is about making it one’s own. It is about dropping fears of the seeming gender imbalance in the profession and believing in what one has to contribute. It is also about recognising the freedom to grow, develop character, influence and be influenced positively.

    “The challenges will come, no doubt, but the rewards of becoming stronger and more knowledgeable make it all worth it. Engineering is about finding solutions for life and there is a great need for the superb, interactive, unique and creative contributions present generations have to offer.”

    Thanks to UKRC and the WISE Campaign for this case study, follow the UKRC Blog for more inspiring stories

  • Claire Jones

    Mechanical Engineer and winner 2011 WISE Excellence Award

    Claire Jones is a Mechanical Engineer working in the nuclear industry. Every day brings a different challenge to Claire which she finds really appealing in her line of work. At school Claire studied Art and Design, Design and Technology, Mathematics and Physics. Amongst other things, Claire loves winter mountaineering, motorbikes, cooking, gouache and water colour painting.

    Claire won the 2011 WISE Excellence Award in October 2011. It was a great honour for Claire to be presented with the award by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. She later was a judge at the IMechE population challenge competition in the Houses of Parliament. Teams (of young engineers) entering the competition were required to look at problems faced by their country from increases in population and the way in which engineering could help solve these problems.


    Claire wanted to become an engineer because she wanted to use both the scientific and creative parts of her brain. She wanted to study engineering at an early age and was very interested in energy – but she fell in to nuclear engineering because of her proximity to mountains.

    Claire admires Ross Brawn, the English motorsport engineer and Formula One team principal. Ross has taken F1 teams from failing to winning multiple times. Claire’s dreams came true when she met him in 2009/2010.


    Claire isn’t fazed at all about being female in a male dominated environment and sector. She took every opportunity that was given to her.


    “Find yourself work experience, either through your school or by emailing companies directly. When I was 16 I arranged work experience through a friend’s family at Lotus Cars. I travelled 200 miles and lived at a youth hostel for two weeks, but I learnt an incredible amount.

    “Take every opportunity you can, working abroad, working on new projects, or changing jobs. Working abroad in my placement year was the hardest thing I’ve done, but in retrospect the most rewarding and it taught me a lot.

    “Don’t worry if you’re nervous, everyone gets nervous and apprehensive; we just deal with it in different ways, and some hide it better than others.

    “It’s important to remember to be yourself, and not try too hard to be one of the boys.”

    Thanks to UKRC and the WISE Campaign for this case study, follow the UKRC Blog for more inspiring stories

  • Harriet Jevon

    Loughborough University Graduate Design Engineer, Dyson

    Harriet had always desired to know how things are made and how they work. A perfectionist by nature, the opportunity to make things better through design really appealed to her and naturally led to her doing a Product Design Engineering degree at Loughborough University.

    Now working as a Design Engineer at Dyson, Harriet is motivated by the fact that every day she is doing something new. Being challenged to find solutions through design is very rewarding and allows you to get hands-on, rather than being in front of a computer all day.

    Designing a product is an iterative process – as engineers constantly tweak and refine their work trying to achieve perfection. This can be frustrating but by tapping into the knowledge and expertise available within Dyson, Harriet has learnt a great deal and enjoys the sense of achievement when problems are eventually overcome.

    Harriet’s advice is to study hard but also to make sure you do some non-engineering related activities to keep you sane and thinking clearly. If you do not approach problems properly, you often miss the simplest solution. The activities you do outside of engineering are often the biggest inspirations and influences that you can bring into your work. By the end of her degree Harriet had been Chair of two societies, marshalled ‘Race for Life’ at Silverstone Race Track, played Christmas carols in the bandstand in town and got involved with activities which encouraged more young people to go into engineering, all while studying for an MEng degree!

  • Samuel Abera

    Engineering Career Academy Student

    Sam is a student at Barr’s Hill Community school in Coventry, studying the Engineering diploma, and is also a member of their Career Academy. As part of the programme all students are offered a mentor and Sam was lucky enough to be partnered with Krishan Vara, who worked for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) locally. Sam realises how valuable this relationship was in enabling him to prepare for and make the most of the internship he had.

    Krishan was able to invite Sam for two weeks to JLR prior to his placement, and offer him support to develop valuable workplace skills. In his own words Sam “learnt about having the right body language in the workplace, how to talk to colleagues in a professional way, time management, working under pressure and the importance of acting professionally at all times.”

    Krishan has been amazed and delighted to see the changes in Sam. “It became apparent in early conversations that Sam had a number of assumptions in his mind which were not allowing him to think laterally about his career options. These ranged from judging people or their role by how they dressed, to thinking apprenticeships were for students who were less academically able. Sam has some outstanding academic credentials but this is not of much value unless harnessed properly.”

    Sam completed a paid internship at Aero Engine Controls (AEC) in Birmingham, where he was given key responsibilities. He was invited to stay for a further two weeks beyond the end of his placement to complete a project where he designed tooling storage for the department. He quickly became accepted as a key member of the team, who were reluctant to let him go back to school. By this stage Sam had been working for the whole summer (rising at 5am every day to get to work on time).

    Career Academies UK

    Sam says “Thank you for providing me with this opportunity – it has sorted my life out. I have always been passionate about engineering but this experience has made me more determined to be an engineer. I am currently applying to Cambridge, and the Career Academy programme has increased my chances of getting accepted, giving me something to talk about at interviews. I am also looking into the apprenticeship route which would give me the opportunity to gain more work experience, get a great qualification and save money, which is all very attractive! I certainly would never have considered that route before my Career Academy experience.”

    To find out more about the Career Academy programme visit – www.careeracademies.org.uk







  • Samantha Robitaille

    Systems Engineering Fellow of BAE Systems

    Samantha’s childhood interest in engineering developed from a fascination with the structural achievements that surrounded her during her youth, like the Brunel Bridge in Saltash, Cornwall near her family home.

    Samantha’s mother encouraged her to focus on a career which drew on her academic strengths, in maths and science, but also on her creativity.  Samantha also remembers teachers at school making science understandable and engaging, which encouraged her to study Computer Science at A-level, before pursuing mechanical engineering as a degree.

    Samantha is driven by having a job she immensely enjoys, and is happy that she can make a real difference through engineering.

    Samantha remembers really benefiting from a conversation she had with a female fighter pilot who shared her experiences with her. Samantha’s advice would therefore be to ask  questions and learn from those who have already overcome challenges similar to those you may face.

  • Sita Shah

    Engineering student, Cambridge University

    Sita was drawn to engineering because of the way it combines scientific theory within creativity and innovation.

    Sita is motivated by knowing that the technology engineers develop can be used to address societies’ needs and make a difference to real issues. The cross over between social issues with science and technology is what she loves best about engineering.

    Sita recognises that it is not always easy to see how the theory you learn in lectures would be useful in the ‘real’ world, but that comes with experience.

    Sita recommends not being put off if you find maths/science hard at school – everyone is not fantastic at everything –  but if you work hard it will pay-off in the end. Sita also advises to stay engaged with technical developments, happening in the real world, everything influences engineers’ work so the more general knowledge you have about topics you’re interested in the more natural it will become to you.

  • Sophie Schorah

    Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering student, Cambridge University

    Sophie was inspired towards a career in Engineering when, through a Sorrell Foundation project, architects came into her school and worked with her and her classmates to change something about the school. The architects produced designs, with feedback from the class, and one of these designs became the new technology department. Seeing a project from start to finish made her extremely interested in architecture and made her want to pursue it as a career.

    Sophie enjoys applying the mathematical knowledge she has learnt to create designs. She also finds it exciting to solve problems with her own unique ideas.

    Sophie notes that the course is not easy and you are expected to put in a lot of time. But the people you work with make it enjoyable and it is satisfying when you learn new things.

    Sophie believes that work placements are very important and would encourage trying to get a few days work experience because seeing a practice first hand will let you know whether or not it is right for you. Sophie has personally benefited from work placements; she found that they provided an understanding of the different stages of a project and how engineers work with architects and contractors to produce a final result.

  • Chris Pearce

    Project Engineer, E.ON

    Chris was inspired by his physics teachers and a school trip to North Wales where he visited a hydro-power station. He still remembers seeing the dial on the mega-watts meter go from 0 to 800 mega watts in seconds and feeling the station hum with power.

    Chris likes that his job contains a lot of variety. One day might be spent in the office reviewing designs and another out on site meeting suppliers and contractors.

    There are many different career pathways as an engineer, try to get a feel for what these different pathways might involve from an early age.  It is never too late to change tracks but sometimes this might involve further study.