engineering not just for boys

Last year we joined in with the celebrations for the first National Women in Engineering (NWED) day by profiling some of the amazing female engineers & scientists working here at Malvern Instruments – check it out here.  One of the things that makes me proud to work at  Malvern is the prominence of women across our manufacturing, NPI, applications & technical support teams at all levels.

Clearly though, with only 6% of engineering positions across the UK taken by women,  there is more work to be done in our schools, universities, our media and our homes to ensure that girls and young women see STEM careers as an option.  National Women in Engineering Day 2015 aims to rally those in education, industry, government and also individuals, to celebrate the work that women do in engineering and to showcase the great careers are available for girls.

A couple of months ago we were excited to work with Cradley Primary School on their entry into the RHS Malvern Spring Festival School Garden competition (read more here).  As part of the design process for the garden, we held a competition for the pupils to create a 3D printed bird feeder to go in the science-themed plot.  The winning design in the shape of a molecule came from a young girl called Lily from Year 6.

Once we had the design, the next step was for Lily to work with Alicia Stevenson (pictured above) to get the design into CAD to create the 3D computer model to be printed.  Alicia is based at Malvern Instruments while she works towards her Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in manufacturing engineering with Nottingham University, specializing in additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing). The EngD is like a PhD but it requires industrial application not just academic research.  Working at Malvern for the entire four years of her EngD helps to ensure that the novel academic research is relevant and applicable to industry.

3D printed birdfeeder
Lily’s design for the bird feeder is on the left, the 3D computer model is in the center and the final 3D printed model on the right.

Alicia enjoyed working on translating Lily’s 2D design into the 3D model, saying: “It was quite challenging to make sure I properly understood the drawn design so I could create something that was as close as possible to what was originally imagined.”  She said that she hoped taking part in the competition made 3D printing technology seem more available and relevant to the children – and also fun:  “It is one thing being told about cool technologies, another to see your own design being made into a physical part that you can see, touch and hold.”

There are no shortage of female role models for Alicia at Malvern where she is part of the New Product Introduction department, reporting to Sarah Macdonell in a team led by Engineering Director Rowena Innocent.  When asked what advice she would give to girls considering studying engineering or science at university, Alicia said, “Go for it, do not be afraid to study subjects that ‘aren’t girly’, be proud of yourself and your abilities and don’t let the old judgments and prejudices hold you back.  There are more girls in STEM careers than ever before so they definitely won’t be alone!”

The bird feeder designed by Lily and translated into CAD by Alicia was 3D printed on our machine here at Malvern.  The finished design took pride of place in the Cradley School garden at RHS which went on to win a distinction.  This example of outreach in schools shows how companies like Malvern can help to change perceptions about gender and STEM careers – they’re not just for boys!  We can help improve the gender balance in engineering by being supportive throughout education and in the workplace – helping to enthuse children about science and engineering in schools, supporting early career decisions by offering work experience and placements, and ensuring equal opportunities for career progression.

To celebrate National Women in Engineering Day 2015 (NWED), and continue in our support of science and engineering in the community, we have organised a careers open day for local secondary school students from Malvern St. James and Malvern College to learn about what we do and the kinds of jobs that are available to them within Science and Engineering. We’ll let you know how we get on via our social media channels.

We’re also joining in with the NWED Thunderclap campaign on Twitter.  Thunderclap is a crowdspeaking platform that allows you to pledge a Tweet or Facebook message all at same time, in order to amplify the message of NWED and gain a larger social reach.  Keep an eye on the #NWED hashtag on Twitter to see all of the messages of support.

For details about working at Malvern Instruments, including our summer placements and Year in Industry scheme, please visit our Careers page.

Follow Malvern Instruments on Twitter.

Related Posts:

Plant’um Physics! Cradley Primary triumphs at RHS Malvern

Girls Can’t What? Women in Engineering @ Malvern

Don’t subtract – add! 3D printing at Malvern