INWED, or International Women in Engineering Day, takes place every year on the 23rd June and is a day to celebrate female engineers, raise the profile of the gender gap in engineering and inspire the next generation of girls hoping to get into engineering. As every year, UCL Engineering put on a whole host of inspiring events, including pasting the campus in pictures of some of the Faculty’s female engineers and Open Labs sessions. The week of celebrations culminated on the 22nd June, with a whole day of events showing girls aged 16-18 what it’s like to be an engineer. The event saw 114 aspirational engineers from schools across the country coming to UCL to learn more about studying engineering at university. The day started with a series of keynote talks, including how to apply to UCL Engineering, a talk from about 5 female engineers working at ITV, who produce TV-shows like Love Island and X Factor, a talk about how engineering can lead to a diverse career from a consultant at PwC and finally an introduction to the Magic Candy Factory – a business that creates 3D printed “sweet selfies”! These talks highlighted how engineering can lead to so many varied careers.
Following the talks was a “Speed Networking” sessions, where the girls got to meet real life engineers – this is where UCell came in! Four of our members came along to the session to talk to the girls about our journey from school to where we are now, our experiences of doing engineering and hopefully giving them some advice about how to choose where to go to university and what to study! The atmosphere in the room was really buzzing and the girls were loaded with questions and full of passion for studying STEM subjects. It really was quite incredible to see a room packed full of girls studying STEM A-level subjects, who were all so enthusiastic about going to study science, maths or engineering at university.
After a lunch break, the girls were taken on departmental tours. UCell were in charge of showing 32 girls around the Chemical Engineering department, which included showing them what a lecture theater looked like! Some of them were quite intimidated by it, since it was so different to a school classroom, but we assured them that it would quickly become totally normal! We also took the girls to the Electrochemical Innovation Lab and showed them some of the other opportunities that they will have whilst doing their degree, like doing a summer research project or a Master’s research project. As well as the tours, we also gave a demonstration of the mini fuel cell cars to the girls to show them how what they learn in the lecture theatre translates to “real-world” research and innovation. The girls were fascinated to see how the clear, colourless gases that were collected in the bell jars could actually power the car!
The day overall was a very rewarding one; I don’t think it was just the girls who went away feeling inspired – I expect that all the engineers, be it from UCL or from other companies, will have felt empowered to be part of the day. One of my favourite quotes from the whole event was from a girl who was studying physics, chemistry, maths and further maths for A-level:
“I just love all subjects equally and I just can’t decide which one to choose! I want to do them all, I just love science”.
Hearing such passion and enthusiasm like this from someone that age is a strong reminder of why we put the hours into preparing events like this. Special thank-you goes to Elpida and the team in the UCL Centre for Engineering Education for organising such a great day. INWED is always a highlight for UCell and we’re so glad it’s become a regular feature in our events calendar! Also, thank you to Mark from Chemical Engineering for taking the lovely photos of our cars and members – it’s always useful to have someone else taking pictures while we’re busy demonstrating! Looking forward to INWED 2019 already!