Attending the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Student Conference at Aston University in November was inspirational and amazing. On arrival we had companies such as Selex, Dialog, Instron, Altera, UTC Aerospace, Mars, BP and Proctor and Gamble (P&G) both at stands in the foyer to greet us and then in speeches given by female engineers from the industries who spoke about pursuing their dreams and getting involved in everything they could. The achievements and experiences they’ve gained were fascinating. We had various activities and teambuilding icebreakers to do. (Ours was to design a farm; originally an easy task however, as more challenges were added, we got surprisingly into it.) A lovely four course meal with the companies and other engineers from other universities was lovely. It was nice to get to know other women from other universities who were surprisingly like you. At the meal, Naomi Climer (president of the IET) gave a speech - she was inspirational.
On the second day, activities included speeches and quite a lot of food! I was particularly taken by one lady who throughout her life had a love for the sea and for ice. She used engineering to take her right across the world, fighting seals, visiting amazing tourist attractions and exploring the world. She’s been a lecturer, in the army, in various forms of the Royal Marines, working on royal navy ships, designing, building and testing various boats and ships including those going to aid other countries in need. She’s even been to Antarctica. I love how her interests and passions could be intertwined into her perfect job, doing breath-taking things. She’s even tested boats to the breaking point and coped with high voltage engine rooms fill with water while being 6 months pregnant. All the women who gave talks and the students attending were inspirational!
I didn't know what to expect going to the conference. However, after attending the conference, I have so many memories and inspirational stories to hold onto, giving me something to aspire and work towards. A brilliant experience which only increases my love of engineering. Fantastic. I would certainly recommend joining WES to gain valuable information about women in engineering.
1st Year - Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Having started my PhD less than two months ago, when I heard about the student Women Engineering Society conference, I immediately signed up for it for the sheer curiosity. Little did I know, it would have the kind of impact it did on my thought process.
The conference began on a very positive note from Kay Plumley (Proctor and Gamble), who spoke about her role in managing factory operations, which in itself is an achievement as such positions are always thought to be the forte of men. She also instilled in me the confidence that women engineers can successfully balance their professional and personal life without compromising on either. The panel discussions which followed were very well structured. The session on electronics and materials had speakers from Instron, Altera and UTC Aerospace. For someone who was always told that PhD holders were over-qualified for jobs in industry, this couldn’t have been a better session as two out of three speakers had a doctorate and were in notable positions in their respective companies. The career path of each of the speakers was varied, sometimes confounding, but always driven by passion and faith which has today put them in a position equal to and even above their male counterparts. The ice-breaker session was a good start to the evening when engineers were allowed to dabble with finance and stocks. We were put in groups of different countries, provided with some resources and asked to trade off with other countries for a week and finally liquidate the assets. Though the aim was to lead the cash table, the session actually threw light on how soft skills get overlooked in an engineering curriculum and is as imperative as sound technical knowledge.
The highlight of the evening was the conference dinner which was intellectually appetizing. I was seated at the Karen Burt table (sponsored by BAE) and hosted by Anne Madsen whose presence was infectious. The food was sumptuous and conversation extremely stimulating. Conversations with women engineers from different walks of life was a start to some new friendships and interesting insights about their journey thus far as engineers. The first woman president of Institute of Engineering and Technology, Naomi Climer, beat dessert (Chocolate mousse!) and stole the spot light with her journey as an engineer and her role as the president. Her very presence was inspiring. I am looking forward to hear from her more at the WES Bath IET event (March is not that far!).
The following day kick started with great sessions and talks. I was particularly impressed by Anne Madsen (BAE systems) who spoke at length about the wrong turns she took in life but about how satisfied she is today about being a woman engineer and a mother (She has been on the Antarctic mission, walked with the penguins and now designs ships and also tests (breaks!) their endurance. How cool is that?!). Professional membership and marketing yourself as an engineer go hand in hand and Victoria Batchelor, from IChemE gave useful insights about getting chartered, increasing employability and how the society has a range of opportunities for support and development of engineers. This session was a boon for me as I had missed out on professional body memberships back home. As they say, “Better late than never!”
The session which followed was pillars of success, which focused on some soft skills like communication, leadership and confidence building and created a support system for women engineers. The last session was focussed on Energy and Risk and we heard exciting talks from engineers from BP, Scottish and Southern Energy and FM Global. The latter deals with engineering risk management and it was quite interesting to know about the amalgamation of engineering and insurance sector.
No sooner than it began, the conference had to end. Though the conference was spanned over only two days, it was exhilarating when I come to terms with the experience, motivation and a mutual bonding amongst women engineers. In the words of Naomi Mitchison, “Engineers are made, not born”, it is the need of the hour that the existing community of women engineers be nurtured and supported whilst a new group of women engineers are inducted to the community, which in my view has the power to change the face of the world. Thank you WES Bath for giving me a chance to be a part of the one of a kind conference. It has been the best conference experience ever!
Post Grad Chem Eng Student
Parimala and the other WESBath students at the WESBath conference 2015
Ten members of WESBath were given the opportunity to attend the WES Student Conference on 20th and 21st November at Aston University, Birmingham. This was a brilliant chance for us to meet inspiring engineers from industry and around 150 other female engineering students, as well as to stay in a lovely conference hotel and eat some great food!
On the first day, after an introduction and presentations by engineers from Dialog Semiconductor and Proctor & Gamble, the group split to attend two different panel sessions, on “Academia or Industry?” and electronics & materials, before a fun icebreaker session which focussed on psychology and ended with groups of students designing quick concentration experiments to do in the session. Later on we had a brilliant networking opportunity at dinner where the seating plan allowed students to interact with engineers from WES sponsors. We were lucky enough to listen to a captivating after dinner speech by Naomi Climer, President of the IET.
The second day began with a welcome back and presentations from the chair of the student WES committee at York University and two inspirational female engineers from Selex ES and BAE Systems. After refreshments, we took part in an interesting workshop run by a coaching expert on “6 Pillars of Career Success for Women in Engineering”. This was followed by a buffet lunch, after which an engineer on a graduate scheme at Selex ES presented “CVs and Interviews with Impact”.
The conference ended with a fascinating panel session on alternative engineering. Presenters from PolyPhotonix and Mars Petcare UK spoke about how they are involved in engineering that focusses on health and the environment.
I think everyone who attended the conference came away feeling inspired and excited about a future in engineering. I would definitely recommend it to any student that has the chance to go next year!
WESBath Students at the WES Conference 2015
We’ve got some really exciting news here at WESBath…
A couple of months ago during a committee meeting we decided that one of our priorities for the next year was going to be outreach activities. We were all really passionate about engaging with younger people, in particular younger girls, to encourage them to consider engineering. We decided the best way to achieve this would be to create four new committee positions so we could have a dedicated public engagement rep from each department.
We asked all of our members to put themselves forward if they were interested in the position. We then invited them to our committee meeting to tell us a bit about why they were interested in the role, and talk about any experience they have and any ideas they have for the role. The competition was tough but after an anonymous vote we decided on our reps.
Our new reps are:
Jemma Rowlandson from Chemical Engineering
Laura Grubb from Mechanical Engineering
Elisa-Jayne Barber from Electric and Electronic Engineering
Naomi Deering from Architecture and Civil Engineering
We can’t wait for them to get started and see what exciting things they’re going to come up with. Watch this space!
Thank you to everyone that attended the first two WES events of the year!
It was really encouraging to see so many of you in the seminar. I hope it provided a useful introduction to some of the committee members about what we do outside of WES. It was a lovely to hear your stories and how passionate you were to support women in engineering! Sorry to those, who had lectures and couldn’t attend 🙁
The Pub Quiz had a great turnout too – great to see a lot of familiar faces from the seminar earlier that day. Thank you for bringing all your friends along too! It was lovely to see everyone mingling
together- we hope it was a useful opportunity to get to know other members of the society. We managed to polish off 10 large pizzas- so I think it goes without saying that we enjoyed them!
Well done to the winners for the best team name (Windmills- I’m not a fan) and the highest scoring team! I hope you enjoyed your chocolate treats 🙂
See you at our next event!
Kristin and Dominique
Some of the WESBath Committee at the pub quiz
WESBath pub quiz
WESBath has been affiliated with the national Women’s Engineering Society (WES) for over a year now. It’s been great to have their support throughout the first year, with their president, Dawn Bonfield, attending our Christmas event and having them feature us in their official journal, The Woman Engineer. I was very excited when I was asked to be a member of WES council, both to learn more about WES and to be able to give something back to the society.
I attended my first meetings on Saturday 10th October. The day started with the council meeting. After some quick introductions it was straight down to business. Some of the things discussed that were relevant for the student groups were the timing of the WES student conference and setting up a network of student WES committees across different universities.
The council meeting was followed by lunch, which allowed for networking. After lunch the AGM kicked off. In the AGM, which is open to all members of WES, a presentation was given to current members of the society about what WES have been up to this year. After this new council members were elected and Benita Mehra was appointed as the new president of WES. The financial statement for the year was also presented.
Following the AGM, we were treated to a lecture from Henrietta Heald on WES founder Rachel Parsons. Rachel was the first president of the society from 1919 until 1921, and continued her engagement with the council for many years after this. It was great to hear about such an inspiring and forward-thinking woman!
In celebration of National Women in Engineering Day (NWED) I was invited, on behalf of WESBath, to attend a British Gas Panel Event to celebrate this magnificent anniversary and discuss all matters of importance that surround it.
On 23rd June 2015, at the King’s Road, London location, a panel of inspiration female engineers assembled to discuss the future of Women in Engineering as well as what can be done to promote Women Engineers in the future. The panel consisted of Claire Miles (Managing Director of British Gas Homecare), Nadia Abbas (British Gas Engineer and Success Coach), Dr Arti Agarwal (Professor from the School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering at City University) and Dawn Bonfield (the President of our very own national Women’s Engineering Society) while the event was chaired by Dickson Ross (Editor of Engineering & Technology magazine).
For me, the event truly invigorated my motivation to promote engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects to younger female students. The topics of the ‘Challenges and opportunities for women in engineering’ and ‘Why aren’t women engineers aren’t celebrated?’ were deliberated in depth (videos of the matters discussed can be found on the following YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1RSxqLw7W4Y6a5hw5h2ZkT5u9niRCvXI)
Issues that only women would encounter in the work place were a key feature of the discussions which I found incredible intriguing because, as a final year student, as I will be heading into the working world in a few short months! Issues such as retention of female engineers after they’ve started families, ‘flexible working programs’, how to get children interested in engineering as well as the cliché allegation that ‘women distract men’ in the workplace all need to be challenged and changed – but how? Now that’s the important task we all need to work together to achieve.
Many thoughts of the panellists concerning these themes have been summarised in a British Gas blog:
The future of engineering is bright; especially for females. As the concept of engineering grows and changes so do the skills and requirements of engineers. The future holds untold opportunities including the combination of humanities, technology, ethics and engineering as well as data analytics, robotics, artificial technology and green technology. To increase the exposure of young females to engineering, the status quo must be defied while teachers and parents alike must encourage all their children into careers in STEM subjects. They are the future.
The panellists all agreed that we, as a nation and engineering as an industry, needs more non-traditional routes into engineering and especially to recruit female engineers in different ways. Diversity is required in the breadth of ‘pipeline’ into engineering hence the industry must work with Universities and the Government to provide these routes. Finally, we need to create awareness of the amazing accomplishments engineers achieve, both publically and internally within companies, which in turn will attract more females. Engineers have the capacity to positively impact society which naturally appeals to females so the industry needs the support to overcome the underlying barriers that stop women from pursuing a career in engineering.
If you would like any more information about British Gas then have a look at their website.
Thank you for reading and I hope you feel as inspired as I was. #WESBath #NWED
On 23 June 2015, National Women's Enginering Day, we welcomed more than eighty Year 8 and 9 girls onto campus from Bath Community Academy, Oldfield School, Ralph Allen, Wellsway and Writhlington Schools. The girls participated in a morning programme of experiments, demonstrations and hands-on engineering experience with postgraduates and academics from the Faculty of Engineering and Design.
At lunchtime, career pathway talks were given by Dr Elies Dekoninck, Senior Lecturer from Mechanical Engineering, Dr Valeska Ting, Prize Fellow and Lecturer, from Chemical Engineering and Dr Jun Zang, Reader, from Architecture and Civil Engineering. The audience consisted of staff and students from this University.
Following the talks we had the announcement of the winners of a postgraduate poster competition. The prizes were presented by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design, Professor Gary Hawley.
Talini Pinto Jayawardena, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Carla Da Silva, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Kemi Lawal, Chemical Engineering
Chrysoula Papacharalampou, Mechanical Engineering Jemma Rowlandson, Chemical Engineering
The Student Women's Engineering Society at Bath hosted the Vanessa Boon free workshop, focussing on relevant areas to all women engineers.
Vanessa is an experienced and inspirational trainer in aiding people to unlock their full potential. She became the founder, Managing Director & Principal Consultant of her business, Energise, enlightening females in male-dominated environments to speak with confidence, be it in a lecture, business or even social situation. She aids both individuals and organisations to break down any barriers which may hold them back.
Vanessa was extremely engaging with her audience, involving every single person in the room and inspiring the female engineers to have their say. The workshop was accompanied by group activities in tables, to encourage the female engineers to chat with someone they had not met before, easing everyone into the workshop. There was a great turnout with females from all Bath Engineering disciplines such as Mechanical, Electrical, Civil and even Architecture. The workshop was then followed by a tea and coffee break and the chance to network with everyone in the workshop and further consolidate their new confidence skills!
“Don’t wait to be invited” was the message of the day when a group of female undergraduates and postgraduates in the Faculty of Engineering and Design took part in a confidence building and career boosting workshop delivered by WISE trainer Vanessa Boone, Founder MD of Energise, on Wednesday 25th February 2015. The workshop was energetic, fast moving and fun with the students working on interactive tasks designed to boost self confidence and give them practical experience of being proactive about raising their profile. How to be confident when speaking in public and the importance of networking were all covered during the afternoon session alongside how to be assertive, interview techniques and self promotion without cringing. The event included the opportunity for the group to practise their new found skills as the afternoon concluded with refreshments and time to network. Those attending praised the “energetic and helpful speaker”, and said they had found the event “inspiring”, “gave me lots of confidence” and that they would “use the tips to raise my profile”, “remind myself to be assertive”, “ set personal goals” and that “fear is not real”. This was the first training event organised by the WESBath student group. If you would like more information on future events and activities email email@example.com and visit the website at www.bath.ac.uk/engineering/women/society.