23rd June 2016 was National Women In Engineering Day (NWED). This is an annual event organized by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), and the day aims to raise the profile and celebrate the achievements of women in engineering and to encourage more girls to consider engineering as a career. To celebrate NWED last year, we hosted an Open Morning and invited local schoolchildren, and predominantly girls, to come to our head office and learn more about what we do and the varied career opportunities within science and engineering which are available to them.
This year, we decided to try something new and to reach an even wider audience, and so we teamed up with fellow Malvern engineering company QinetiQ to plan an inspiring and educational day for girls from the local area. On that day, 32 eager and enthusiastic Year 9 and 10 girls joined us from five schools: The Chase, Malvern St James, John Masefield, Malvern College and Hanley Castle. The event was held in the Tom Elliott Conference Centre of QinetiQ’s Malvern office, and female scientists and engineers from both Malvern Instruments and QinetiQ were on hand to energize, educate and enthuse the girls.
The day began with a series of presentations. We talked about prominent (but often overlooked) women in STEM and considered preconceptions about STEM women. We then provided an overview of the many different types of engineering in existence, and highlighted more specifically what Malvern Instruments and QinetiQ do. Following that, we challenged the girls to build a freestanding bridge, strong enough to hold a 1kg weight, solely out of newspaper and masking tape in order to give an insight into civil engineering, and then broke for lunch. After lunch, our afternoon was very much cyber-themed! We provided the girls with an insight into cyber security, and then introduced them to cyphers. We then encouraged them to put into practice what they had learned, with a ‘Code-Breaking Challenge’. This entailed piecing together and analyzing several pieces of evidence to uncover the details of a plot to attack a concert venue.
It was an extremely beneficial and enjoyable event and we hope to build on its success next year. The best part of the day from my point of view was the open and honest dialogue that we were able to have with this group of bright, attentive and perceptive girls. If they are the future of Science and Engineering then we are in good hands!