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Island schools celebrate women in engineering

Island schools celebrate women in engineering

Monday 24 June 2019

Island schools celebrate women in engineering

Local girls in years nine and ten have been learning more about careers in engineering, and what it is like to work in the still male-dominated sector.

Students from St Anne's School in Alderney and the Jersey College for Girls joined pupils from each of Guernsey's schools at the event, encouraging young women to take up engineering-oriented subjects.

A range of local companies offered hands-on activities for the girls at the College of FE campus last week, including robotic arms, solar powered cars, Stixx construction and augmented reality.

Meanwhile, a number of women with successful careers in the engineering sector gave inspiring talks about their experiences.

"We did the Stixx activity with rolled up newspaper that a machine made, and we had to make different shapes with twine," explained Year 10 Grammar School student Rachael Bertrand. "You could make a cube, a square-based pyramid, a normal pyramid with a triangle base or an octagon. Overall, it was pretty fun!"

College of FE women in engineering

Pictured: Students learning about the workings of solar energy.

La Mare de Carteret student Reinet Smith, also in Year 10, added: "We've looked at electric cars and solar panels and 3D printers. It is all really interesting and something I would like to maybe do in the future. At school it is sort of a boys' thing, so having events like this opens our minds and lets us know that we can still do it."

The event was supported by global company Siemens, which sent over some staff from its Education Team to speak to the students.

"We know that children as young as six can be influenced by stereotyping such as 'STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] is dull, it's boring, it's just for boys' and absolutely that is not the case," explained Alexandra James from the company. "We've got to get in there early and really overcome that so these bright, fantastic young women really believe they can have a career in STEM.

"We have a new ingenious engineering app and it showcases some of the technologies that we use with some of our customers to help us provide solutions. The girls are seeing some augmented reality and virtual reality - both of which help our business and we use every day.

"Technology is not frightening. It is fun in many ways and we want them to be familiar and comfortable with that."

College of FE women in engineering

Pictured: Students from Guernsey and Jersey at the local event.

This is the fourth event of its kind in Guernsey and  coincides with International Women in Engineering Day which was celebrated yesterday.

Organiser and Programme Leader of Engineering at the College of FE, John Semenowicz added: "The ultimate aim is to try and attract as many females into engineering as possible and a good way to start is to start at the schools. If we can start with the girls that are in year nine and ten, before they decide on their career options, that's a good time to try and get a reaction and get things happening - or perhaps even earlier if possible.

"We want these activities to grow each year, so we are asking industry to come up with an idea so they can give a presentation or, ideally more activities. It's an interactive opportunity to take girls from the schools and say 'this is what engineering is like'."

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