St Helen and St Katharine celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

St Helen and St Katharine celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

2 August 2018

What is engineering?

Wendy Patton, a project engineer at Atkins Engineering with a fascinating background working as a chartered mechanical engineer in the nuclear industry, visited St Helen’s to give a lunchtime talk to prospective engineers titled ‘What is engineering?’

With an audience of students ranging from Year 7–Lower Sixth, Wendy gave an engaging and insightful presentation, explaining the various routes into engineering, the different engineering disciplines, and the wealth of progression opportunities within an engineering career.

Wendy then went on to describe some of the projects she has been directly involved in, challenging the audience to come up with their own solutions to real-life engineering problems that she has faced in industry, before explaining the solution that she and her team actually developed.

It was a captivating talk, a truly insightful opportunity to find out what engineers really do (and discover the many uses of a bike valve!).

The Big Build

The Quad buzzed with activity on a summer’s afternoon as students took on the challenge of The Big Build, a series of hands-on engineering challenges.

Students teamed up to compete in three separate challenges, using everyday objects and minimal waste. Dexterity was tested by building reusable catapults; funnels and elastic bands were engineered to fire projectiles at a target, with points for accuracy. The slight breeze added to the challenge but the field was entirely outclassed by Lydia (Year 6) who triumphed with an enormous score of 23 points.

Ingenuity was the main requirement for the spaghetti tower challenge; mini marshmallows provided the mortar for spaghetti struts, which were tested to the point of failure. This was no easy challenge. Holly and Caroline (Year 9) came out on top with a tower that withstood a massive 210g.

Finally, it was all about design to make the most streamlined balloon rocket. Some blasted into orbit, others barely made it past launch, but the eventual winners, with a spectacular balloon that completed the full course, were Amalia and Purdy (Year 5).

Engineering your future

Lower Sixth engineering applicants attended Engineering Your Future – a careers focused event hosted by Diamond Light Source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in Harwell. 

With workshops highlighting some of the scientific advancements made possible by engineers at the RAL, students built solar powered cars, tested their coding skills with robotics programming and learnt about how Mars lander robots, such as the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander, are engineered for safe impact on landing.

An engineering focused tour of the Diamond beam line followed, describing the roles that electrical, mechanical, software and chemical engineers all play in ensuring the success of the experiments carried out using the x-ray radiation produced by the beam line.

With the added bonus of a careers networking event during lunchtime, students found it an incredibly inspiring day, which emphasised the many varied and diverse roles a career in engineering could take them to.

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