Guest Blog by Millie Coombes, Rail Telecoms Design Engineer, Atkins
Millie is a member of the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC), founded by EAL, who act on behalf of apprentices in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector and other related industries. To help us celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, Millie has written a guest blog telling us about her experiences as a woman in engineering.
I am currently almost three years into my apprenticeship with Atkins in the rail telecoms design team. I began as an advanced apprentice and I have now moved onto a degree apprenticeship studying digital and technology solutions. During my time with Atkins I have worked on a number of high profile jobs such as Crossrail and HS2 which has enabled me to gain skills very quickly on the job and learn how to deal with an increase in design responsibility under the guidance of more senior engineers.
Alongside my work I have a voluntary role on the Women in STEM Plymouth committee as an events coordinator which means I have the responsibility of organising quarterly networking events with a standard attendance of 30+. These events have the goal to connect and inspire women working in Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths which is a wonderful thing to be able to facilitate. In my role at the moment I see the lack of gender diversity (and general diversity) in those working in the engineering sector and more specifically the rail sector. I come into contact with so many inspiring women in engineering through my day job and my volunteering and it is unfortunate that the industry doesn't always monopolise on the potential to increase this pool of talent.
I was inspired to begin my career in engineering through contact with an engineering professional but these opportunities do not always reach everyone. I believe it is becoming increasingly important to present a career in engineering as a valid choice for all women and girls particularly as they progress through school, so they feel competent enough to pursue these choices in the subjects they study and then later when it comes to applying for jobs. I see engineering as an incredibly rewarding and challenging career choice, you will not find any industry as varied in what it encompasses.
Just within Atkins there are job roles that mean you can contribute to designing wind farms, schools and rail stations (to name just a few); then there is the implementation of ground breaking technology in the security sector and in driverless car development. The reality of engineering is far from the sometimes damning views of a boring office job or working on a dirty building site. To me engineering is problem solving to help others, whether that be using tools and techniques you already have or finding new ones - which means you are constantly learning and being challenged.
I think it is a wonderful career choice to anyone who wants to help people and enjoys the challenge of problem solving, two things I know a lot of girls enjoy but just don't always associate with engineering.