Engineering really can be a woman’s world too


*Words and pictures courtesy of the Shropshire Star

They are the next generation of female engineers, ready to prove that the industry can be a woman’s world too.

This year a record number of girls are enrolled on engineering courses at Telford College. And they are keen to encourage others to follow in their footsteps and consider a career in the industry.

Among those keen to spread the word is Suzanne Smith, who last year secured a week-long placement with BAE Systems which handles multi-million pound contracts for the armed forces.

“I was always interested in doing engineering. I started by doing electronics in Year 9 but I was intimidated by being the only girl in the class. I then did basic engineering in Year 11 before coming to the college,” says the 18-year-old.

Suzanne Smith

After completing her engineering course level two at the Haybridge campus she has now moved onto the level three programme.

Suzanne, who lives in Abdon, Craven Arms, plans to work towards her bachelors and masters degree before securing a job at a blue chip company

“I enjoy learning all the technical skills and that it’s very hands-on,” she says.

Alex Bryan has her sights fixed firmly on becoming a weapons technician in the Royal Air Force. She is already a flight sergeant – and the highest ranking female – in the air cadets with 2497 Cosford Squadron ATC.

Alex also teaches cadets working towards their BTEC level 2 aviation studies at RAF Cosford “I’ve always wanted to be in the RAF and I come from a long line of aviation engineers. It’s thrilling to learn how things work and I love working on weapons,” says Alex, who lives in Wolverhampton.

Scarlett Jones and Alex Bryan.

Jessica Bailey works as an analyst at Quorum and is currently studying towards the Level 4 Higher National Certificate in General Engineering.

“I took an RAF aptitude test for human resources. I excelled in mechanical and electrical engineering. I didn’t know what opportunities there were in engineering and I thought human resources was suitable. I realised that engineering was what I wanted to do,” says Jessica who lives in Telford.

The 22-year-old says she enjoys the mathematics side to engineering. “I love that there is one straight answer and when you work it all out you experience a euphoria moment,” she adds.

Anna Michulec, 27, who lives in Telford, says she chose engineering after working in factories. “I like the science and maths sides of engineering. I would like to go into designing machines in the future,” she tells us.

Layla Bone says she has always been interested in engineering but said her determination grew after meeting her step-father. “He’s an engineer so I was always asking him lots of questions. I’ve learned things I never thought I would learn by coming to college,” says the 17-year-old who lives in Telford.

Abigail Higgins

Abigail Higgins says she is following in her grandfather’s footsteps. “I’ve always loved working out how things work and fixing things around the house,” said the 17-year-old who hopes to secure an apprenticeship in maintenance engineering.

Maths and physics enthusiast Scarlett Jones, 18, from Lilleshall, plans to go into automotive or aerospace engineering and particularly likes Computer-aided design (CAD). “It’s the CAD side of it that really interests me. “It’s really exciting,” she says.

Jessica Terry, 18, who lives in Telford, says it’s important for more women to go into engineering. “Even some family members said ‘do you really want to do that’ when I told them I was doing engineering. I think more women should do it, they can really make a difference,” she adds.

Samantha Jones with her students.

Head of engineering Samantha Jones says the number of girls enrolling on engineering courses is increasing but she would love to see it continue to grow in the future.

“This is the most girls we’ve ever had but it’s still only one per cent of the total number of students in the department,” she adds. Her advice for any female student considering engineering as a career is to ‘just go for it’.


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