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I have been on the AWE graduate scheme for around 9 months. This is my first job since leaving university in June 2016, where I studied a Masters in Mechanical Engineering with International Study, which allowed me to study in the USA and Spain.
As a Graduate Warhead Engineer I am on a rotational placement scheme, meaning I move around the company every four or five months. This has allowed me to see different departments, including In Service Support and Manufacturing Engineering.
Since starting at AWE I have been involved in various activities along-side my placements such organising the Apprentice Design Challenge (a company production based design challenge competition), completing a four week practical course on mechanical appreciation and working to create an induction project for the next intake of warhead graduates to complete when they come on site in September. I enjoy the variety of being able to rotate placements and see different aspects of the business. The graduate scheme is supportive and there are lots of opportunities for development outside our placements. At the moment my placement is really exciting as I am getting to see real manufacturing processes.
One part of my job that I really enjoy is getting involved in outreach activities. We get to go out to local schools to encourage and promote STEM. One activity we did recently was the Primary Science Challenge which involved interactive experiments with around 450 Year 5 pupils from 12 local schools. We also get involved in Teentech which is a challenge for local school pupils to solve STEM challenges. I’ve also been lucky enough to become a schools mentor for a local pupil.
Additionally, I am attending the 9% Is Not Enough Conference being held on the 23rd June, specifically focusing on increasing the number of women in engineering.
The best thing about my job is the calibre of what AWE is working on and being a part of it! I think the science behind what we make is amazing, and the variety of opportunities in engineering, let alone STEM, are so massive that there is so much to learn here.
Unfortunately there are still a lack of females in STEM roles. I think there could be perception that women don’t always fit into these roles but in my experience women make great scientists and engineers as we are diligent and meticulous.
I think the lack of females in STEM is mainly due to the education routes people are choosing. I think the problem comes from very early education and subconscious stereotypes being presented in our society. I feel that education in maths in primary schools needs improving and promoted. Often young boys are encouraged into STEM subjects by things like their toys and their perceptions of people’s jobs. We need excellent STEM teaching and role models in order to encourage children from an early age.
The advice I would give to anyone who was thinking about a career in STEM but be to be determined and don’t be put off by the current ratios of girls to boys. When I was at university studying Mechanical Engineering, we started with about 10 girls and 110 boys, but by the time we finished our course we had gained girls and quite a few of the boys had dropped out.
I’d also encourage someone looking into a STEM career to research extra curricula courses and placements to do during school holidays. I took part in Smallpeice and Nuffield Foundation courses, which were great engineering experience and something that wasn’t available at school. There are things like Dragonfly Days which are specifically for girls to engage in STEM subjects.