Emily, Evolve Graduate Engineer

How long have you worked at AWE?     
Since October 2022

Why did you choose AWE?- what attracted you?
I have always had an interest in defence, going so far as to apply to the navy to work on submarines. I have always enjoyed learning about nuclear, in particular nuclear power, so when I found this job, I felt it was the perfect way to combine two of my passions. At school I was very physics and maths motivated so it was an easy choice to go for mechanical engineering at university.
When I joined as a graduate, I expected to not be involved in ‘real’ work but that hasn’t been the case which is brilliant!
So far working at AWE has been exciting and interesting. It has a real diverse workload and workforce, and it’s amazing to meet so many likeminded people who are passionate about what they do.

Tell us about your time at AWE?- What do you do?
I have been working closely with the Material Analytical Science group on some R&D projects and really getting to make them my own. Day to day is a lot of project management, but I am also getting to be involved with testing. I get to interact with many different areas of our company, as well as outside partners including universities and suppliers.

What’s the best thing about working in the Engineering industry? Engineering is an amazing career as it gives such variety. I have a number of projects I am working on, and none of them present the same challenges or outcomes. It is brilliant when you get to follow a project from start to finish and make it your own, but it is equally rewarding to work as part of a team and see something you have worked tirelessly on become a reality. Being able to work with so many teams at AWE gives such a unique perspective on engineering, mainly because the people who work here are incredibly intelligent, committed people who want to share knowledge and better your graduate development.
I have learned that I should have more confidence in myself as an engineer. Having the skills is one thing but being able to stand up and say I can do this is a completely different thing altogether.

What made you opt for a career in Engineering?
I did well at school, although never in my prelims much to my teachers and parents worry, and did maths, mechanics and physics in 6th year for advanced higher. A career in engineering was where I was destined to be!
My hobbies outside of engineering include playing hockey or ultimate frisbee. I have got into coaching recently, which has been very rewarding.

Who inspired you to have a career in Engineering?
My main push into engineering, and one of my biggest cheerleaders is my dad. I had always said I was going to follow my parents’ footsteps into medicine, but my dad continually challenged that idea, instead helping me realise that a career in engineering was a good step forward. Both my parents have been a huge support to me though my whole education, but particularly when getting my masters.
My Physics teacher at school also really pushed me to realise that I could pursue a career in STEM as a woman. He never gave up on me and supported me throughout

How do you see your career progressing?
Hopefully I will still be exploring the company, and may have found my niche to settle in. Long term, I would love to be an expert in a certain area, even helping new graduates in my career find their footing at AWE.

Why are events such as INWED so important?   
Events like INWED are so important because I never saw someone like myself until I went to uni. Two girls in my year at school did engineering – one chemical and one mechanical (me!). Most of my lecturers at university were men, my maths and physics teachers were men, and all the STEM based competitions or extra-curricular activities were aimed at boys when I was at school.
Highlighting women in STEM will give younger women looking into their career confidence that they can follow what they want to do. I think if I had seen more women in engineering when I was at school, deciding to do engineering wouldn’t have been so hard for me.

 What can we do to encourage more females into Engineering? 
Showing that there are women in STEM across social media and spotlighting women in engineering at all levels (not just senior leaders) will give young women looking into a STEM career more faith in themselves to do it. We work in a male dominated industry and that can be daunting but being able to recognise yourself in people would be a great way to encourage women and girls into the industry. This needs to be aimed at kids as soon as they start school. Making sure girls are as engaged in maths and science at the start of their education!

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in Engineering?
GO FOR IT! Believe in yourself. Don’t let a stereotype stop you from achieving greatness, because everyone has it in them!
Once you get into industry, there are many women and women’s networks who will support you. There is a real drive to ensure that women are equally represented in the workplace, so it really isn’t as daunting as it may seem.