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Promoting careers in engineering

World Cement,

IET Young Woman Engineers of the Year

The UK’s Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has named the winners of its Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards. The accolade recognises professional achievements and the work the women do to encourage other young people to take up careers in engineering.

Naomi Mitchison, a 28-year old Senior Hardware Engineer at Selex-ES, was named IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year. She will play an ambassadorial role over the coming months. Jessica Bestwick, Rolls Royce, picked up the IET’s Mary George Prize for Apprentices and Lucy Ackland, Renishaw PLC, was recognised with the Women’s Engineering Society Award.

“I’m really grateful to receive this award and it’s a real honour to be the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year. I’m really looking forward to taking an ambassadorial role for the industry and to do what I can to encourage more women into engineering,” said Naomi.

The awards help to find female role models and address the shortage of women in science and engineering in the UK. According to the IET’s Skills and Demand in Industry Survey, women make up just 6% of the UK’s engineering workforce. In addition, IET research indicates that just 1% of parents with daughters are likely to encourage them to consider an engineering career, compared to 11% of parents with sons.

“The lack of women in engineering is a very significant problem, contributing to skills shortages which damage the economy. The shocking reality is that the UK is missing out on half of its potential engineering and technology workforce by failing to attract women into the industry. It also means that women are losing out on interesting and rewarding career opportunities,” stated Michelle Richmond, IET Director of Membership.

“A lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls is one of the main reasons for this so we must make sure we show the next generation that engineering is a dynamic, diverse, interesting and challenging career choice. Naomi will be a fantastic role model to all young people thinking of a career in engineering and technology.”

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things: from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A-level, through to employers needing to do more to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly. But it’s also a result of the lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls – which is where our Young Woman Engineer of the Year winners can play a vital role,” added Michelle.

Promoting robotics skills

Earlier this month, IET announced that it had partnered with Walt Disney Studios and Betchel to highlight the 2014/15 FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) competition. The competition is designed to encourage young people to study STEM subjects at school and develop the skills necessary for employment. For the FLL competition, 9 – 16 year olds are tasked with building and programming robots, using LEGO MINDSTORM robots, which can perform a number of challenging tasks, such as unlocking a hoop from a trap.

The initiative coincides with Disney’s new film Big Hero 6, which centres around a plus-sized inflatable robot and young robotics prodigy. The directors of Big Hero 6 will release a special video message to underline the importance of developing engineering skills at a young age. The UK and Ireland final will take place in February 2015, and the winners will go on to the FIRST® LEGO® League World Festival in St Louis, USA, in April 2015.

The IET is supporting the FLL in the UK as part of its commitment to showing young people the benefits of STEM careers.

“It’s great to have Disney on board for this year’s FIRST LEGO League competition as it will help to grow awareness of robotics and engineering among a much wider audience – and hopefully get the message to young children that studying STEM can lead to fascinating and exciting careers,” commented Gareth James, Head of Education at the IET. “The UK is currently facing a significant skills gap in engineering and technology. It is predicted that we will need 87 000 new engineers each year for the next decade. With help from Disney, we want to attract more and more young people to things like engineering and robotics, so that they consider pursuing careers in these areas in later life.”

Adapted from press releases by

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