Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day (Sunday 23rd June), Newton Abbot’s pioneering technical college hosted a programme of events to encourage more young girls into the skilled trade.
Working with female Engineers and Scientists from employer partners South West Water, the Environment Agency, the Royal Navy and Briggs and Forrester, South Devon University Technical College (UTC) led a day of activities aimed to encourage and inspire young girls into STEM, particularly engineering.
Now in its fifth year, International Women in Engineering Day was set up as an inaugural event co-ordinated by the Women’s Engineering Society. Each year, the day highlights the achievements of women in the sector with the campaign encouraging more girls to consider engineering as a career.
Students got the opportunity to meet college alumni who have proceeded to carve out successful careers in engineering. Representatives from South West Water, the Environment Agency and the Royal Navy also contributed to the day, delivering presentations and workshops which gave advice on how to stand out from the crowd when applying for an engineering job.
Putting their new skills into practice, students were given a problem-solving challenge by the Environment Agency. The realistic scenario saw heavy rainfall cause the development of bacteria at a popular surfing beach. Walkers spot dead fish in the river near a dairy farm and fisherman report huge algal bloom in the water. These real-life challenges encourage the students to think about how they would tackle the problem, putting the skills they learn within their curriculum into practice.
Jemima May, 18, has been appointed as an apprentice with Wales and West Utilities. Starting her apprenticeship later this year, she commented: “At South Devon UTC, I’ve learnt some great skills on machines, I’ve developed good communication skills and I’ve learnt how to problem solve. I’ve also learnt to tackle a challenge from all different aspects, enabling me to solve and get around a problem. I chose Wales and West Utilities as they have some great opportunities in electrical engineering.”
The pioneering college on Kingsteignton Road, with its state-of-the-art facilities, offers an innovative model of learning for students that provides professional academic and technical education aimed to ‘develop a new generation of engineers, scientists and environmentalists’. Unlike many other colleges, South Devon UTC has a higher proportion of their students studying triple science compared to the national average.
Claire Plumb, Principal at South Devon UTC, commented: “We were delighted to welcome our employer partners, the Royal Navy, South West Water and the Environment Agency, to lead presentations and workshops to mark International Women in Engineering Day. Engineering is still a very male dominated industry so it’s important that we continue to encourage girls into engineering careers, highlighting that there’s an abundance of opportunities.”
The curriculum also includes all year-round work experience opportunities and employability skills development. This is a key focus for students at South Devon UTC which results in an extremely high success rate for students achieving their further destination placements in higher level apprenticeships with local employers, University or with the Armed Forces.
South Devon UTC is now recruiting students for the 2020/21 academic year but a small number of places are still available for those interested in starting with the college in September 2019. Currently, open mornings are hosted every Friday between 11:30am-12:30pm. The first Open Event of the 2019/20 term will celebrate Science Week and will be held at the college on Tuesday 8th October 2019. Register your interest to attend by calling 01626 240201 or visit www.southdevonutc.org/open-evenings.
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