Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 23rd) is International Women in Engineering Day, and one young Sunderland woman is building a career for herself as an award-winning student engineer, learning her trade at Europe’s biggest centre for nuclear energy.
Molly Baker, 21, is in the second year of her Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Sunderland and is currently spending her placement year at Sellafield Ltd in Cumbria. Sellafield is Europe’s largest nuclear site, comprising over 1,000 buildings and employing more than 10,000 people.
Molly, who is working as part of the commissioning team, said: “My work so far has involved running energisation tests on instruments, gathering and collating system final parameters and assisting with repairs to panels.
“I am really enjoying the placement as it has given me the chance to put my theory work from university to the test and given me a real insight into what a career in a large company is like.
“When I think of engineering the first thing that comes to mind for me is problem solving, and that is what I love doing. To be able to go down a career path where that is what I’m doing on a daily basis it was a no brainer for me to choose engineering.”
And though Molly is really enjoying her chosen career path, she admits it is not always easy.
“I do think that women in engineering still face barriers,” she said.
“However, the opportunities are now there for women to get involved. From my experience, the workplace is a very supportive environment.”
Tomorrow marks the eighth annual International Women in Engineering Day created to raise the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls in this exciting industry.
Molly said: “I would encourage other girls to get into engineering because it is an extremely rewarding career path to follow. There are very diverse opportunities out there and you shouldn’t be put off by other people’s views.
“If you are passionate about it, go for it.”
Molly’s hard work and dedication has recently been recognised with a Dovre Award from the University’s Development Office. The award offers a £1,000 scholarship to engineering students entering the final year of their studies. The scholarship is funded by former Sunderland Polytechnic engineering students and recognises the work of outstanding young student engineers.
Molly added: “The Dovre award will help me prioritise my studies in my final year and help me gain my goal of graduating with a First. It’s a real honour to have been chosen to receive this award.”
Professor John Murray is Academic Dean of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Sunderland.
He said: “It’s fantastic to see the work Molly is doing on her placement at Sellafield, putting to work the skills she’s developing through her degree at Sunderland, and the impact she is making.
“Engineering and STEM in general has been historically underrepresented by female students, which has resulted in less female graduates for the industry. But that is changing as more women choose a pathway through engineering, and we encourage them, as Molly says, to ‘Go for it!’. The career opportunities are there for all.
“Within the Faculty of Technology, we are proud of our work in closing this gender gap, supporting women in engineering, bringing a diversity to engineering that we want to encourage and grow, and we want to support all our students on gaining rewarding careers in engineering industries.”