School students experiment with their futures at careers open day for girls

News Page 20th June 2018

Future female science and engineering professionals got hands-on experience of the variety of jobs available for them at an interactive ‘STEAM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) event yesterday (19 June).

More than 150 school students (aged 11-13) from across Northamptonshire visited the University of Northampton’s Avenue campus yesterday for the ‘Women into Science and Engineering’ event.

Featuring interactive stalls from University of Northampton lecturing staff and top science and engineering organisations, the day was aimed at opening female students’ eyes to the type of careers option available to them in disciplines where women are traditionally underrepresented.

Students try out some equipment during Women in Science and Engineering Day.

During the packed day, the students’ interacted with robots, tried out virtual reality goggles with staff from XMA, talked to the Royal Engineers about military job roles and experimented with ‘smart materials’ such as clay that changes its physical state when held and the practical uses of this.*

The inspirational speaker was University of Northampton footwear design graduate Heather Jenkinson, who followed her passion for shoes and now works at Dr Martens footwear in Wollaston, Northamptonshire.

The event has been staged in the run up to International Women in Engineering Day, which falls on 23 June. The aims of INWED and the University’s career day are to celebrate the achievements of women in engineering and to raise the profile of the career opportunities available to girls.

Linda Davis-Sinclair, Lead for School’s Engagement at the University of Northampton, said: “I asked the girls when they arrived how many of them wanted to become a scientist or an engineer? Of 160, about 10 put their hands up.

“This event followed on from our ‘Engineering Isn’t Just for Boys’ day held last year and our objective is simple – to ‘switch’ girls brains toward the huge possibilities available to them if they want to go beyond  their GCSE studies with us at the University and the jobs they can land after that.

“Given the feedback we’ve had, I hope we’ll be seeing a few of yesterday’s guests come through our doors in the next few years.”

Shanika Edwards, a teacher from Weston Favell Academy who attended, commented: “This is the second year we have attended and once more it was an absolutely brilliant and well organised event. The girls thoroughly enjoyed all the interactive activities and workshops and came away buzzing with excitement.”

Michaela Bingham, Senior Science Technician at Weston Favell, added: “Not only did the students benefit hugely from the workshops and talks, but I gained resources and ideas for the rest of the academy.  It is events like this that will help inspire the next generation of women into science and engineering.”

The other schools taking part were:

  • Abbeyfield School
  • Grange Primary School
  • Kingsley Primary
  • Malcolm Arnold Academy
  • Northampton International Academy
  • Sponne School

*The full list of organisations who attended:

  • Atomic Science/Cosmic Chris
  • Canal and River Trust
  • Mahle Powertrain Ltd
  • British Army 170 Engineers
  • XMA
  • RS Components
  • Cavendish Nuclear
  • Representatives from the University of Northampton Engineering, Life Sciences, Computing, Non-Destructive Testing, Institute for Creative Leather Technologies and Photography.

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