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Over the course of 2018 young people had the chance to take a closer look at engineering and the variety of opportunities on offer through The Year of Engineering. As part of this initiative, engineering companies delivered open days, talks and activities across the country. This page is a legacy to continue promotion of engineering and STEM as a career pathway for young people, those wishing to change careers and returners to work after a career break.

Year of Engineering

Schools Hub

The Year of Engineering schools’ hub provides teachers with a library of resources including lesson ideas, competitions, videos and more. The resources are designed to help schools get involved and inspire students aged 7-16 to think differently about engineering.

Engineering is exciting, rewarding and creative. Yet there is a big shortage of young people that think it could be a job for them. We want to shake-up people’s ideas about engineering, inspiring the next generation of innovators, creators and problem solvers by showing them what engineers actually do.

Visit the Schools Hub for;

  • Lesson ideas
  • Connecting with local businesses
  • Sharing experiences
  • CPD for teachers

STEM Ambassadors

STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs and disciplines across the UK. They offer their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers. STEM Ambassadors are an important and exciting free of charge resource for teachers and others engaging with young people inside and out of the classroom.

Once you have registered, you can find a STEM Ambassador or get involved in an activity from your dashboard.

Find more information here.  Graphic Science are the lead organisation for the STEM Ambassador Hub West England.

STEM Returners

The STEM Returners project is a programme to help employers recruit, develop and retain the best available talent, and to enable highly qualified and experienced candidates to re-start their career. It aims to redress the gender imbalance within STEM, and work with employers to view CV gaps in a different way. Operating within an incredibly skills short market, this scheme will allow employers to attract candidates from a new talent pool, and give candidates a supported route back to their career.

The STEM Returners project will facilitate paid short-term employment placements for professionals returning to work after a career break. Alongside the experience gained from the work placement, the STEM Returners project will also provide support for the candidate in advice, career coaching, networking opportunities and mentoring. All of the candidates going through the programme will also have the opportunity to restart their career in a permanent position at the end of the programme.

This project is co-supported by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and the Women’s Engineering Society. We passionately believe that providing a mechanism to motivated and experienced candidates to return to STEM, will help to create the diverse, agile and innovative STEM workforce that the UK needs for today and the future.

Find more information here.

Engineering Case Studies

Fiona, IXYS, Process Engineer

We spoke to Fiona Lambert, a Process Engineer at IXYS UK Westcode Ltd, based in Chippenham, Wiltshire about her journey as an engineer. IXYS UK Westcode Ltd are a world leader in semi-conductor technology and are keen to dispel the image of “hard hat and hi vis” engineering as IXYS requires a very clean environment for the work they do.

Fiona, who is originally from Morecambe in Lancashire, decided to be an engineer after seeing a “women in engineering” programme on TV at the age of 14. She focused on her GCSEs so that she could study Maths, Physics and French at A level. Fiona reflected that although it was a requirement to have A level maths, in the first year of university there was a lot of additional support to ensure students could progress within the course. Fiona’s High School did not offer a broad range of subjects; Fiona was one of only three students that did Maths and Physics at A level, and many of her classmates followed the GNVQ route, which reflected the employment opportunities in the area at the time.

Fiona graduated in 2005 from Loughborough University with a Master of Engineering, a 4-year programme accredited by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) that would lead to Chartered Engineer status once in employment. Her first role was on a graduate programme at a company in Gloucestershire working in measurement, motion control, spectroscopy and precision machining. Fiona remained with the company for four years and was involved in manufacturing engineering and providing support to their electronic assembly lines.

Fiona then secured employment as a Process Engineer for a business that provides semi-conductor and systems solutions for aerospace and defence, communications, data centre and medical markets in Monmouthshire which saw her bring improvements to processes utilising new technology. Fiona was one of only two female technicians and often found the environment challenging in terms of old-fashioned attitudes towards women; however, this did not stop her from achieving the position of Senior Process Engineer. After six years it was time to move on which is when Fiona joined the team at IXYS.

Fiona has been at IXYS for 2 years as a Process Engineer, after six months she was awarded Chartered Engineer status awarded by the Engineering Council, which is one of her proudest moments to date. The process of becoming a Chartered Engineer involves putting together a portfolio evidencing competence in the following areas: innovation in engineering, engineering practices, improvement design, leadership skills in a project and communication skills, an interview, delivering a presentation and developing an action plan demonstrating continuous professional development. The process also develops a range of personal skills relating to ethics, outreach and environmental considerations, which Fiona could do through changes to regulations imposed that were intended to reduce an employee’s exposure to lead-based products such as in the soldering process.

Fiona told us that she experiences a good balance of work and interacting with people across the company and working very much as a team. Her day to day activities range from working in the laboratory and being in the office to supporting colleagues on the production line. Fiona shared that since working in industry she has understood the relevance and application of much of the theory taught at university.

Fiona is an ambitious woman, who thrives in engaging and supportive environments. She told us that she would love to lead a project and with the move away from fossil fuels and the development and sale of electric cars to mass markets believes that this opportunity will present itself in the not too distant future.

We spoke to Fiona Lambert, a Process Engineer at IXYS UK Westcode Ltd, based in Chippenham, Wiltshire about her journey as an engineer. IXYS UK Westcode Ltd are a world leader in semi-conductor technology and are keen to dispel the image of “hard hat and hi vis” engineering as IXYS requires a very clean environment for the work they do.

Fiona, who is originally from Morecambe in Lancashire, decided to be an engineer after seeing a “women in engineering” programme on TV at the age of 14. She focused on her GCSEs so that she could study Maths, Physics and French at A level. Fiona reflected that although it was a requirement to have A level maths, in the first year of university there was a lot of additional support to ensure students could progress within the course. Fiona’s High School did not offer a broad range of subjects; Fiona was one of only three students that did Maths and Physics at A level, and many of her classmates followed the GNVQ route, which reflected the employment opportunities in the area at the time.

Fiona graduated in 2005 from Loughborough University with a Master of Engineering, a 4-year programme accredited by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) that would lead to Chartered Engineer status once in employment. Her first role was on a graduate programme at a company in Gloucestershire working in measurement, motion control, spectroscopy and precision machining. Fiona remained with the company for four years and was involved in manufacturing engineering and providing support to their electronic assembly lines.

Fiona then secured employment as a Process Engineer for a business that provides semi-conductor and systems solutions for aerospace and defence, communications, data centre and medical markets in Monmouthshire which saw her bring improvements to processes utilising new technology. Fiona was one of only two female technicians and often found the environment challenging in terms of old-fashioned attitudes towards women; however, this did not stop her from achieving the position of Senior Process Engineer. After six years it was time to move on which is when Fiona joined the team at IXYS.

Fiona has been at IXYS for 2 years as a Process Engineer, after six months she was awarded Chartered Engineer status awarded by the Engineering Council, which is one of her proudest moments to date. The process of becoming a Chartered Engineer involves putting together a portfolio evidencing competence in the following areas: innovation in engineering, engineering practices, improvement design, leadership skills in a project and communication skills, an interview, delivering a presentation and developing an action plan demonstrating continuous professional development. The process also develops a range of personal skills relating to ethics, outreach and environmental considerations, which Fiona could do through changes to regulations imposed that were intended to reduce an employee’s exposure to lead-based products such as in the soldering process.

Fiona told us that she experiences a good balance of work and interacting with people across the company and working very much as a team. Her day to day activities range from working in the laboratory and being in the office to supporting colleagues on the production line. Fiona shared that since working in industry she has understood the relevance and application of much of the theory taught at university.

Fiona is an ambitious woman, who thrives in engaging and supportive environments. She told us that she would love to lead a project and with the move away from fossil fuels and the development and sale of electric cars to mass markets believes that this opportunity will present itself in the not too distant future.

Chris, Wiltshire Council, Civil Engineer

We asked Chris about his background and how he got to where he is now.

“I have worked in the industry since 1988, this covers time at Wiltshire Council, Parkman and time at Ringway. I most recently came back to the Council in 2011. When I left school I was interested in working in construction and started as a trainee site manager, this allowed me to learn on the job and do a day release to Trowbridge Technical College – much like an apprenticeship these days. I also worked in London doing materials testing, I later joined Wiltshire Council in 1988 as a trainee technician within the Planning and Highways team.”

We wanted to find out what Chris’s job involved on a daily basis and what he found to be the most interesting parts of this role?

“Most of my time is based in the office these days, as I manage staff and projects, I supervise junior staff who are on the ground, from time to time I am called out to site! I must keep up to date with new policy and legislation and make sure the team are aware of this. I think the best part of being in this line of work is being able see material differences due to the decisions you have made. Having worked in Wiltshire for a number of years it is always pleasant to come across sites that you have contributed to when you are travelling around the county. Seeing the material differences due to the input that you have had with projects is always good. Working in the maintenance field it means that the majority of the jobs that I work on can be quite small but the positive impact that can be delivered by the installation or replacement of something such as small section of drainage can be massive compared to the scale of the actual works.”

Lastly, we asked Chris what he would say to future Civil Engineers and if there were any myths he wanted to dispel?

“I would say if you are interested in engineering don’t let any preconceived notions hold you back, if you have the right attitude you can go far. There are constantly lots of opportunities to develop. The myth that it is a male dominated industry is definitely disappearing, over my time I have seen more females enter the industry and rise through to senior roles, so times are changing.”

Stacey, Wiltshire Council, Analyst Programmer

Stacey didn’t take a ‘traditional route’ into the sector but is glad she is in the position she is now.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after college so I decided to start with an apprenticeship in business administration in Learning and Development. Through internal promotions and a growing interest in the area I found this role which involves Business Intelligence Data; I write reports, pull data for various departments across the Council and use historic data to help build better services for the future.

We asked Stacey if there are any myths she wanted to dispel about the engineering sector and any advice she would give to those looking to get into the industry.

“Whilst the IT sector is mostly dominated by men, here at Wiltshire Council there are a lot of women coming into the sector. I’ve been lucky enough to witness and be a part of the progression routes for women, I’ve always had great managers. I am able to always be learning, the opportunities for CPD have been fantastic including; Microsoft and SQL coding training courses. My advice to those coming into the sector is to never doubt yourself and keep learning, online forums for example are a great way to further your knowledge.”

To finish we asked Stacey who were her role models and what were her plans for the future?

“My husband was a great influence and support to me, as he already works in this sector he has been able to understand my frustrations and help me to conquer them. Working with my colleagues Eleanor and Steph has provided me invaluable mentoring. In the future I look to get more involved in web coding, it’s exciting that there is so much opportunity out there and that’s just within IT engineering”.