Held at Truro High School, nearly 150 girls from schools across the county took part in a range of interactive sessions designed to excite their interest in engineering as a career. To help them discover the many opportunities on offer, representatives from a number of different businesses and organisations were on hand to chat about their own experiences and demonstrate what their jobs involved.
Dr Rachel Nicholls-Lee of Falmouth-based Whiskerstay gave the day’s keynote speech before joining pupils to build and test model cargo ships in the school’s swimming pool. Now running her own business in the renewables sector, she explained that she had wanted to become an architect before careers advice when she was seventeen inspired her to do a degree in naval architecture at Southampton University instead.
“It was really hard work – I describe it as rocket science plus water,” she said. “When I moved into the engineering industry I did encounter sexism and sometimes still do. It’s a tough industry and as a woman you’ve really got to hold your own.”
Currently only 7% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female. With the aim of redressing this imbalance, National Women in Engineering Day is celebrated worldwide to raise awareness of women in the engineering industry and the career opportunities available.
Year 9 Willow Thompson from Truro High School, said she had found the day extremely enjoyable.
“It’s been really interesting and definitely not your average science lesson. I can’t believe that I got to programme a robot, it was so much fun!”
The companies involved were BRE National Solar Centre, CORMAC, RAF Reserves, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Roseland Observatory, ZLC Energy, Whiskerstay, University of Exeter and IntecSEA.
The schools taking part were Truro High School, Richard Lander, Penryn College, Falmouth School, Roseland Community College, Truro School, Redruth School, Mounts Bay Academy, Sir James Smith’s School, Mullion School and Humphry Davy School.