Student Women's Engineering Society (WESBath)

Women In Engineering Society (WES) - newly-found at the University of Bath

The GREEN Program- Iceland

📥  Outreach

My time in Iceland on the Green Programme was truly eye opening, providing me with an increased technical understanding of different renewable energy systems and inspiration to work towards a greener future. The programme consisted of several different components; classroom lectures, the Capstone Project, industry access to power plants and outdoor activities showcasing Iceland’s scenic landscapes due to its unique geographical location. The programme’s main focus was on renewable energy and sustainability as the country is a prime example of successful integration of renewable energy, namely geothermal, hydro-electric and bio fuels.

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The lectures were very informative and covered the following topics; an introduction to Iceland’s geography, geothermal power, hydro-electric power and energy economics. These were led by lecturers from Reykjavik University in which all mentioned how these energy systems were applied in Iceland to generate electricity and/or hot water. It was interesting to study economics as it was my first time covering this topic, learning about supply and demand to society. The material on geothermal and hydro power built on my basic knowledge, furthering definitions, equations and different types of systems. I was surprised at the statistics for the amount of undeveloped hydropower available worldwide, with a predicted 42% of undeveloped hydropower in Europe. This emphasised to me that there is a big global market for the development of renewable energy power plants.

Iceland 2

The Capstone Project was group work in which we decided to develop a system to both improve the efficiency of steam geothermal plants and reduce the fuel emissions by retrofitting them to be a hybrid plant. I thoroughly enjoyed this task as it allowed us to be creative with our ideas and apply our knowledge to solve a real life problem. The project helped develop my research, innovation and public speaking skills as we had to present our business model to the student group and academics. Working alongside new people also meant I feel more confident putting my ideas across and improved my teamwork ability, taking hold of each person’s strongest skillset.

The site visits to working power plants gave me a first-hand insight into how these plants operate. I believe that by actually seeing the plants in operation, it seems more achievable to integrate these into future plans for energy generation. In addition, I hope that during my career I will be able to use my knowledge and experiences to increase the use of renewable energy sources into the design of infrastructure or use sustainable methods for construction. It has inspired me to strategically design and engineer to reduce fuel emissions, decrease energy consumption and work towards a greener future.

Site visit

Amongst these academic activities, we also had the chance to experience Iceland’s unique landscapes such as waterfalls, National Parks and glaciers. I was mesmerised by the outstanding beauty and it emphasised the importance to treasure these natural sites and minimise the effect due to global warming. The glaciers are already melting year on year and it is for this reason that I want to follow on from this programme with the mind set to protect our environment through the implementation of technology and engineering.

Top of mountain

As a student Ambassador for the GREEN programme I would like to share my positive experience and spread the ‘green’ message. I created a video to show just how amazing the GREEN Program was, click on the link below:

If you are interested in finding out more about my experience and the other study abroad trips The GREEN Program offers, please feel free to contact me. I would truly recommend this trip to enhance your global awareness.

Chloe Foster-Chambers (Civil Engineering MEng)

 

My first STEM Outreach experience

📥  Outreach

I was lucky enough to be invited to help at a STEM day at Blackfriars School in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Blackfriars is a school for children between 10 and 16 years old with wide range of special needs, including physical/mental disabilities, learning difficulties, and sight, hearing, and speech impairments.

The day was supported by many different professions who came to the school to share a little bit about the kind of careers that were available to someone who has studied STEM subjects at school. There were doctors, vets, construction workers and accountants who ran workshops and talks with the children, aimed at giving them a broader perspective of how the world works and the kind of jobs that people do.

I was there to represent engineering, and mostly to talk about my recent placement with Kellogg’s to help the children think about where all the food in the supermarket comes from and how it gets there, because most people don’t give it a second thought! I ran a variety of workshops and discussion groups depending on the ability and experience of the groups that I was with.

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My first couple of classes were of a lower ability, so my main aim was to help them to understand what an engineer is and how they fit in to the world around us. I started with a picture quiz, asking the children to tell me whether a certain person ‘looked like an engineer’. They were surprised that someone sitting at a computer (programming) could be an engineer, and equally that an engineer could be wearing a lab coat rather than a hard hat! We then went on to make straw rockets which they thought was great fun. We made rockets with different nose shapes and talked a bit about aerodynamics, and then had a competition to see who’s could go furthest. Unsurprisingly they got very overexcited and we had rockets flying in all directions, but it was great to see them engaging with engineering and thinking about how these ideas might be useful in other things closer to home!

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My next group were higher ability, and some of them had done the odd STEM GCSE. They knew a bit more about what an engineer was (so faired pretty well with the quiz!), but had no idea how food was made. I showed them a great video which I got from my placement about the entire Pringles process, and then we discussed each stage of the production line and the big range of engineering disciplines that would be involved with something like that. To be honest I think their favourite part was getting to eat the Pringles afterwards, but they did say they were excited to tell their friends that they knew how they were made! We then talked about some of the other big challenges facing other types of engineers around the world (clean water, sustainable building materials, electricity generation etc.) to really try and show that engineers can be anything!

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My final couple of groups were girls only, and I was warned that they would be difficult to engage so I was almost expecting it when one of the girls sat down, saw the word ‘engineering’ on the board, and said for everyone to hear: “Oh great, I hate engineering”. I knew this was going to be a tough audience! I started by asking her why she had taken such a dislike to the subject, and she replied “My dad calls himself an engineer when he’s fixing the car and I don’t want to do that”. Fair enough, I said, but let’s think about all the other things that engineering could be. The group significantly perked up at the sight of Pringles, and again when we were discussing how engineers are more like superheroes than car mechanics – we make the impossible, possible!

All in all, it was a fantastic day to be a part of and the children were really inspiring – engaged, enthusiastic, and armed with plenty of questions! I think it achieved its aim of broadening both the minds and the opportunities of the pupils, and I could already see them starting to look at the world in a different way which was so rewarding. My first taste of outreach was definitely a challenge but I’m hoping it won’t be my last!

Amy Ross

MEng (hons) Chemical Engineering

 

2016 WES Conference

📥  Uncategorized

With the support of funding from Roger and Sue Whorrod, WESBath sent 15 current engineering students from across the Engineering & Design faculty to the 2016 WES Student Conference held at Aston University at the end of November.

The two day conference brought together over 150 students who were able to listen to academics and early to mid career engineers speak about their own inspiring stories and encourage students to stand out and how to be great engineers!

All the students who attended appreciated the opportunity to speak with, engage with and interact with the inspirational women (and men!) who are shaping the future of engineering.

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WESBath students at the WES Student Conference

 

Nine different highlights of the WES Student Conference 2016

📥  Uncategorized

Technical & Commercial Leadership
This talk was really useful as speakers from BP shared about their work. I used to think working offshore would be boring as people have to stay away from home for a long period of time and the lack of entertainment. I was surprised how the speaker had enjoyed her work and gained huge satisfaction from the responsibilities she was given. It definitely attracts me to apply for a placement at BP.

Regarding the talk given by a female representative from the British Army, to be frank, I never thought females would enjoy working in the army! It was interesting to learn about the exciting projects she worked on, and the large amount of training they received prior to the start of work. This helped me learn about the work of engineers in an army, and made me realize the importance of teamwork.
Janet (Yin Yu FONG) (Mechanical Engineering – Year 4)
Technical & Commercial Leadership
Having 3 speakers from distinct backgrounds talk to us on their experience was eye-opening. First, two graduates from BP shared their newly started career, and it clearly showed how different the challenges were even though they were working for the same company. Both had a chance to work on impactful projects, which sometimes involved travelling and even going offshore. Similarly, it was very interesting learning more about the British Army, and all the different roles that they offer. After the talk, I definitely felt motivated and I'm looking forward to my engineering-related future.
Yolanda Chan Chan (Mechanical Engineering – Year 4)

Design and Development of Processes, Systems, Services and Products
This session aimed to help us understand the overall concepts of a systems approach to engineering. We went through some definitions of a system, as well as applying them to practical life and examples which made it very simple to picture.  As one of the exercises, we were required to do was connect 9 dots with 4 lines without lifting the pen, which I did not know how to do. However, I am glad to say that this is one of the skills I took home with me from the session.
As Dr Lucas had done a graduate placement at Jaguar Land Rover, she gave me some helpful and insightful tips which have been of help with my placement application to Jaguar Land Rover. I spoke to her after the talk about her career and what she has done, and I was very inspired to really up my game to say the least.
All in all, the conference was great, and I truly appreciate the opportunity that I had to speak to and interact with all the inspirational women (and men), who are shaping the future of engineering.
Elizabeth Macharia (Electrical & Electronic Engineering MSc Electrical Power Systems)

 
Design and development of processes, systems, services and products
The workshop focussed on an introduction to Systems Engineering, a discipline that incorporates technical engineering with elements of controls, philosophy, and organisational studies in order to design, implement, manage and improve complex systems over their lifetime. The workshop started with a group discussion around the definitions of a system and the terms complex and complicated, and then moved on to cover tools for systemic thinking and problem solving. We also worked on defining the boundaries and environment of systems and how knowing these can help to uncover relationships between parts, states and situations. As a Chemical Engineer, it was a completely new way of thinking for me, but I enjoyed the different approach to problems and can definitely see how it might be useful in the future!
Amy Ross (Chemical Engineering – Final year)

Communication and interpersonal skills' workshop
On the second day of the conference, a number of workshops were run; one of these was on communication and interpersonal skills, with a specific focus on presentations and use of the voice. One thing I certainly didn't expect from the conference was to find myself making strange noises trying to talk to someone I’d only just met without using words! Having been given a quick intro into the anatomy of the voice and a crash course on acoustics, we then practised techniques that can be used to warm up the voice, slow your breath and create a more engaging sound in order to stay calm and clear whilst presenting. Having mastered how to use our voices, it was onto tips for creating a flash five-minute presentation with very little prep time – perfect for assessment centres. We all quickly planned presentations on fish and chips using a basic structure and one brave participant headed to the front of the room to give her presentation. We then gave her advice on improving and she had another go. It was a great session, mostly full of laughter and I definitely learnt some good tips and tricks for next time I have to give a presentation.
Sian Ebsworth (Mechanical Engineering – Final year)

Communication & Interpersonal Skills workshop
Dr Jude Brereton from University of York demonstrated us the ways of feeling confident while giving a presentation, the effect of stress in our body, and how we could use our voice in most effective way. We initially wrote the moments we most and least felt confident. Then, we looked at the structure of our throat and breathed in to figure out the differences prior and after the expansion of our lungs and how much air we could store in one intake. This session helped me to realize the movement of my body when I breath. In addition to this, we focused on our voice and its power. After what I have experienced and learnt in the workshop, I will definitely try to focus on a distant point while talking so that my voice actually reaches to the audience at the very back seat and try to take care of my voice as it is one of the primary ways to communicate with other people.
Ilayda Ozaltan (Mechanical Engineering – Year 1)

 
Underground Professional Services
I thoroughly enjoyed the WES Student Conference as it truly inspired me to continue to pursue a career in engineering and encourage more women into the industry. One talk that I particularly enjoyed was by Kate Cooksey from Underground Professional Services. As an undergraduate Civil Engineer I learnt a lot from the projects she’d worked on including the Thames Tidesway Tunnel, Lee Tunnel and Crossrail C510 Whitechapel and Liverpool Street Station. Additionally I was also inspired by how she had launched the ITA Young Members Committee in 2015 as well as the BTS Young Members Committee to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Rachel Hayden (Civil Engineering – year 1)

Why WES?
On Day 2 we found ourselves discovering the importance of the existence of WES with Dr Sarah Peers' talk "Why WES?". This was justified through a somewhat depressing series of numbers and figures, all signifying the shortage of women in STEM professions. Even when it was proven that women excelled in scientific and practical subjects at school, it was shown that very few of them chose to pursue a career in those fields. Is the education system to blame for this? Is it the norms of society? Is it nature, or is it nurture? Dr Peers proved that it is definitely a combination, but it is about time things change. Women (as well as men) are invaluable in the field of engineering as they are in any field where teamwork is a central aspect. But to manage to create the perfectly balanced team of engineers, both genders should be willing to get involved. There is a misconception that women are not as sought out for engineering positions as men are, and unconscious bias among other things does play a role in that. And yet, why is it that women lack confidence and hold back from even applying for these roles? Despite the overall dismal tone of it, the talk ended in a positive note: this is why WES exists. Events like this one are just the cornerstone to making women acknowledge and develop their potential as engineers of all roles, including managerial positions.

Nefeli Poyiatzi (Chemical Engineering – Year 1)     

Role models, identity, and confidence
Dr Joanna's Collingwood speech "Role models, identity and confidence" followed. Making her way to the podium with her little daughter Anna, Dr Collingwood's double role was made clear to us: an associate professor in the Systems and Information stream at the University of Warwick, but also a mother. Inevitably having to miss out on spending time with her daughter during the day, Dr Collingwood illustrated how she made sure that her daughter was surrounded by influential people and potential role models at the university, many of which happened to be fellow engineers, or engineering students. Little Anna grew up watching the tv programme Fireman Sam and aspiring to be like the female member of Sam's fire brigade. She knows no limits as to which gender should pursue which career, and she is used to being surrounded by female engineers. And if there is a single thing in Dr Collingwood's talk that stayed with us, that would be Anna's question to her mother, as a young child surrounded by women in engineering: "Can boys also do engineering, and not only girls?" Her upbringing and nurture made us realise the extent to which people around us are constantly conforming to stereotypes, and how it is in our hands to change this.

Nefeli Poyiatzi (Chemical Engineering – Year 1)     

Conference dinner speaker
The first day of the WES conference concluded with Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, as the after-dinner speaker. You may otherwise know Dr Morgan as the scientist who devised the viral formula of how to win a game of Pooh sticks.
His talk titled ‘Is diversity in Engineering too tough a nut to crack? Let’s find a bigger hammer’ was very witty and engaging. The take home point for me was that dispelling the myths that ‘Engineering is off limits/Science is hard’ starts from when children are at a young age. Part of this is teaching and demonstrating the applicability of Science and Maths in a fun way in schools and at home (I mean, his 4-year-old daughter knows what a non-Newtonian fluid is!).
One of the questions Dr Morgan asked was how many of us in the room knew at least one engineer as children. I was quite surprised at the number of hands in the air. I think that shows the subtle but very important influence visibility as a female engineer can have on children and the wider society. Thanks to Dr Morgan and this conference, I will be taking more advantage of the opportunities to engage with children and teachers during STEM outreaches in schools.
Moyo Adenmosun (Chemical Engineering -final year)

 

 

November Seminar - BMT Defense Services

📥  Event, Seminars

On a wet and windy day on campus, Cat Savage, Technical Director of BMT Defence Services, came to talk to students about her educational and career path to her current role as Technical Director.

Cat gave a fascinating insight into how important it is to take opportunities when they arise and the value of having the advice and guidance of mentors along the way.

Despite some minor technical glitches, it was a great to hear Cat talk and she was kept busy for some time with students queuing up to chat to her after the talk had finished!  Thank you so much to Cat for giving up her time.

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Parimala Shivaprasad thanks Cat Savage at the end of the seminar

 

Mehrnaz Tajmir awarded the Moog International Women in Engineering Prize

📥  News

Mehrnaz Tajmir, a student in Mechanical Engineering who graduated in June 2016, was the recipient of the Moog International Women in Engineering Prize.  She is now studying for a PhD.

Mehranz was a founding members of WESBath and took the role of Treasurer for several years.

Congratulations Mehrnaz!

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Mehrnaz receives the Moog International Student Women in Engineering Prize from Professor Linda Newnes

 

WESBath kick off semester with seminar and quiz

📥  Uncategorized

WESBath started off the semester with two events on 13 October including networking, quiz and pizza!  At lunchtime new students were invited to come along to a short introductory talk about the background of WESBath and an overview of events planned for this year and following this there was a chance for students to chat to committee members.

In the evening the first of our quiz and pizza social networking events was held in the Tub in the Students' Union.  The challenging quiz questions were set by the committee but pizza and the promise of prizes helped our brain cells!

 

WESBath October Quiz night

WESBath October Quiz night

 

Marble run outreach at St Mark's School

📥  Uncategorized

On Friday 16 September three WESBath members took part in a STEM day at St Marks' School in Bath - engaging Year 6 students with a competitive marble run activity.

Feedback from the school was really positive "Thank you so much to you and your team for your support of our STEM Conference on Friday 16th September.  The children had a great day and the workshop supplied by Jemma, Beth and Shawn was very engaging and challenging for the children - it also brought out a competitive edge to add to the excitement!"

 

 

 

Opportunities can sometimes arise when you least expect them…

📥  News

While at the Bath WES end of year meal, kindly hosted by our sponsors Roger and Sue Whorrod, Roger asked if I would like to have a summer placement at his and his son’s company, Investx. Investx is a parent company who purchases businesses then develops or creates products, purchases technologies and manages finances to rebuild or enhance the companies. Surprised but excited by the generous offer, I immediately agreed and arrangements were made for me to join the R&D team at Investx in June.
The team at Investx made me feel very welcome. During my placement, I worked closely with two engineers (Kit Buchanan and Luke Halton, both IMEE graduates from Bath) on the development of high output, explosion proof LED lighting systems capable of operating in extreme and hazardous conditions. I built and used test rigs for the LED drivers, programmed new equipment and recorded test data to present to the team. I produced a smart sensory and control network system, assembled prototypes, used surface mount components, NFC, LCD touch screen and capacitive touch sensors development kits and was also allowed and encouraged to use any piece of equipment in the lab, so I used them all; including various oscilloscopes, IR reflow oven, programmable DC loads, temperature and humidity test chamber, 3D printer and lots more. I also participated in design and manufacture meetings both at Investx and other partner companies and suppliers.

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Equipment such as oscilloscopes, IR preheater, programmable reflow station, electronic microscope, a mini multimete, soldering irons and suckers.

The placement was very enjoyable and stimulating, giving me the opportunity to apply some of the knowledge and skills gained from my first year studies to a real-life engineering project. In addition to helping develop my team working and communication skills, the placement gave me direct experience of the design to manufacture process and helped reinforce the value of methodical lab work and testing to ensure that products are reliable and meet the customers’ requirements. I would like to thank Rob Whorrod, Peter Edgar and all the team at Investx, especially Roger who offered and organised such a brilliant, insightful and worthwhile work experience.

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Roger and Sue Whorrod, Elisa, Kit and Luke.

Elisa-Jayne Barber

Electronic & Electrical Engineering