Girls in Engineering Conference at St Margaret’s Aberdeen
St Margaret’s Aberdeen were delighted to welcome 90 girls from 16 schools to their Girls in Engineering Conference on Wednesday 26th October. It was an action packed day with a variety of talks from women in the engineering industry and hands-on activities. The feedback from participants was very positive and the girls left with renewed enthusiasm for their own studies and university applications.
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The following blog post was written by Halima and Aghogho, VI Senior pupils at St Margaret’s, Aberdeen:
On 26th October 2016, St Margaret’s School for Girls held a Girls into Engineering Conference in collaboration with Aberdeen University. We were thrilled to have a fully packed day ranging from hands on activities to inspiring talks.
The programme was opened by Miss Tomlinson, the Head of St Margaret’s, and she was followed by Professor Igor Guz who is the Head of the School of Engineering at Aberdeen University. He encouraged us to pursue a career in engineering by informing us about the opportunities available within the industry and enforcing that, although it remains heavily male dominated, the engineering industry is just as much for women as it is for men.
This talk was followed by a presentation from Rita Brown – editor of Energy Voice. She shared her own career path with us. She also drew our attention to the rapid changes that have taken place in the industry since the ‘90s when there were barely any women to look up to outside the entertainment industry. Now women hold many executive position in leading firms across the industry. We have taken away a sense of optimism from this, and an added drive to increase female representation in engineering.
We also had the exciting opportunity to hear from the formula car racing team from Aberdeen University. They helped us see the applications of engineering in real life situations such as building a car. They also talked to us about the process of making the car which showed us the exciting things one can do while studying engineering at university.
Next we were presented with a series of engineering problems to which we had to find solutions. The activities allowed us to understand the problem solving skills needed in the engineering sector. This included a session with a professor of electrical engineering in which he talked about the future of renewable energy in Europe. This was very interesting and gave us something to look forward to being a part of.
Towards the end of the day we heard from an undergraduate, postgraduate, a PhD student and a professor. It was interesting to see how they each developed on their degrees in various professions and overcame stereotypes while following their dream career path.
Last but not least the day was finished off with a round of admissions tips from a member of the admissions team in Aberdeen for our own university applications.
Overall, the day was of huge benefit to all who attended. It gave us confidence and reassurance in pursuing engineering as a career. One constant underlying theme was the importance of innovation. We have all realised the significant impact this has on projects. Hearing some personal experiences has helped us realise the importance of being prepared to fail to experience success. And, most of all, it was made clear that it is now our turn to break boundaries and overcome stereotypes.
Feedback from girls included:
“Today has been an amazing insight to all the different types of engineering and helped me decide which I prefer”.
“Today I have learnt that anything is possible for a girl in engineering and they have, and do get, the same opportunities as men. Putting in all the effort and dedication will get you far in engineering”.
“Today has allowed me to rethink what direction I originally thought I was going to take and has assured me that even if I don’t make the grades my potential future can always steer me back to engineering”.
“Not being scared of studying engineering because I’m a girl”.
“To keep going and follow your dreams and to not let anyone put you down just because you are a female”.
“Today I am taking away with me how easy it is to work in groups, even if you don’t know everyone in that group. The more you contribute to your group, the simpler the tasks you’re faced with are”.
“There are many opportunities within an Engineering degree. I have been given an insight into what the different types of Engineers do and that, as girls, we shouldn’t hold back if we want to do Engineering”.
“I enjoyed the hands-on nature of some of the workshops as well as listening to the interesting and varied speakers”.
“I enjoyed asking questions and hearing other questions put forward”.
“Girls can be very valuable in engineering and it has motivated me a lot more to become an engineer. It was interesting to hear first-hand from female engineers. I found the activities enjoyable but also informative and I have learnt more about what I can do to make my university application stand out. I found it helpful in deciding exactly what I would like to do both at university but also in my career”.
“Don’t let failure hold you back. Not everything to do with chemical engineering is to do with the oil and gas industry. I have learnt more about applying to university and some tips for writing a personal statement in the future. I have learnt about many of the practical uses of engineering and where all our subject i.e. maths and physics tie in with it. Gender doesn’t matter in this industry! Girls are just as good as boys!”.