The International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is an awareness campaign launched by the Women’s Engineering Society. Now in its seventh year, INWED celebrates the amazing work of female engineers and aims to raise the profile of women in engineering.
To celebrate INWED this year, on Tuesday, 23 June 2020, WESBath hosted an online event on Microsoft Teams. The event was open to all and brought together over 50 people from Bath and further afield, including external students and experienced professionals from industry.
Sticking to the INWED 2020 theme of ‘Shape the World’, we wanted to showcase some inspiring projects led by female engineers. We kicked off our event with three exciting talks from speakers who recounted their experiences as a female engineer and how their work is helping to ‘Shape the World’.
Our first speaker was Kate Caddick, the managing director of Koch-Glitsch UK and a Chemical Engineer with over 20 years of industry experience. Her project in Rwanda looks to improve access to electricity by generating power from the methane stored in Lake Kivu.
Our second speaker was Luiza Campos, an associate professor in Environmental Engineering at UCL and the Co-Director of the Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience. She is a Civil Engineer with 30 years of experience in both industry and academia, and her research focuses on water and sanitation.
Our final talk was from Rose Powell, a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Bath and the new Mechanical Engineering rep for WESBath this year. Rose has just spent a year on placement at Atkins where she worked on various projects within the offshore structures team, and she shared the lessons she learned from placement.
Following the talks, we dived into an interactive panel discussion with the speakers in which attendees submitted their questions via the chat. The speakers elaborated on the details of their projects and shared their tips and advice for women pursuing careers in engineering. The key points to take away were:
- There are many ways in which engineers can shape the world - from designing green infrastructure and sustainable energy solutions to tackle climate change, to developing new water treatment technologies that allows access to improved sanitation for all.
- A career in engineering opens up opportunities to work within a wide range of organisations, such as industry, academia, charities and local governments.
- If there’s something you want, ask for it! There is nothing to lose in sending an email, and you may get some great opportunities out of it.
- Challenge your peers to think about how a career in engineering is experienced from different perspectives. Although disparities may be decreasing, we must continue working towards achieving equality in engineering, especially in other parts of the world.
For the final part of our event we wanted to get everyone involved in an activity to encourage collaboration and networking. We broke out into four small groups to discuss how engineers can ‘Shape the World’ in terms of promoting diversity and sustainability or developing new technology and medical applications. The outcome was a display from each group filled with ideas on how to make a difference now and in the future as an individual engineer, or as a team, such as in your workplace or place of study. The discussion also included attendees sharing inspiring stories with each other, such as how they were helping to shape the world themselves, or what motivated them to do so.
As a new co-chair of WESBath for the coming year, this was my first experience of organising and hosting an event. I can gladly say that the event was a great success (despite a few inevitable technological hitches!) and I’m so proud of our committee for pulling off our first online event and generating an amazing turnout. I’m looking forward to hosting many more fun WESBath events over the next academic year and continuing to encourage more women in engineering.
Jodie Grace-Smith, WESBath co-chair, MEng Chemical Engineering student (2nd Year)