‘Engineering isn’t just for blokes’ was the message from RS Components and the University of Northampton when they came together to host an event at the Avenue campus site, to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day #INWED17. The event was attended by over a hundred year 7-9 female students and showcased the RS Live truck, the company’s mobile innovation experience.
Visitors were given a unique on-board tour through its six interactive display zones that highlight the whole range of engineering disciplines.
The day began with a presentation from Christine Powley Williams, an alumni of the university and Britain’s first female manager in the tannery industry. Marianne Culver, President of RS, spoke about the skills that women bring to the engineering profession and the role of RS as a business to assist with the current skills shortage.
The pupils, who all came from schools within Northamptonshire, engaged in a range of activities, workshops and networking delivered by university staff and students to explore the wide range of career opportunities in engineering.
Marianne Culver said: “It is vital to inspire and encourage girls at a younger age to address the skills gap. Events like these help raise awareness of the focus that is needed and the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.
“All engineering employers, even small businesses, can do more to nurture young engineering talent, be it providing work experience opportunities in school holidays, undergraduate work placements, taking on apprentices, encouraging personal development and, particularly if you employ young engineers, supporting them to be STEM ambassadors.”
RS already actively engages in educational projects in collaboration with technology innovators such as Raspberry Pi and PiTop to inspire children with a fun and exciting introduction to engineering.
The company also establishes formal partnerships with universities across Europe and Asia Pacific through its structured programme, RS University.
Recently, RS signed up over 70 volunteers at a special open day held at its Corby headquarters to recruit STEM Ambassadors for its partnership with STEM Learning, to help inspire future engineers. Recruits came from RS branches and offices located all around the country.
This initiative will see a series of workshops developed and delivered to schoolchildren aged 11 to 16, incorporating the latest technologies including Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and robotics.
John Sinclair, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, at the University of Northampton said: “We were delighted to host and support this annual event to promote careers in science and engineering to young female students from across the county. Despite concerted national efforts by a range of organisations over several years, gender imbalances persist in science and especially engineering. The fact that young women are not engaging in these professions means that the UK is missing out on a huge pool of talent!
“With partners such as RS Components, SATRA, Nissan, the Army Reserves and the expertise from our own academics and students, we aimed to give the girls an opportunity to experience the excitement and challenge of engineering and science and be able to enthuse each other about what they learnt. Every girl who is inspired to take up science and engineering as they progress through their studies will help move the gender balance towards a more equal position and will add new insights to UK businesses.”