Being in my mid-30s at the time, I believed that it was too late for me to get into aircraft and aeronautical engineering (which had been a goal of mine as a youth). I had been at home raising my children, homeschooling them and enjoying it thoroughly. However, when they got a bit older, I changed my mind and decided to take the plunge. So it is that in 2009, with no secondary school certificates, but armed with common-sense and a wish to learn, I embarked on an Access to Higher Education course and Bachelor’s degree programme in aircraft maintenance engineering. In 2013, I graduated with a first from Manchester Metropolitan University.
During my studies, I had the opportunity to undertake work experience on line maintenance at Manchester Airport with Flybe Ltd. The experience was fantastic. I met some great people in the process, thoroughly enhancing my interest in aviation engineering.
Shortly after graduating I secured a place on the sought-after Ministry of Defence’s Defence Engineering & Science Group graduate scheme. This graduate scheme offered further fantastic opportunities.
Opportunities including working at Manchester Airport in continuing airworthiness management and quality assurance; auditing line and base maintenance stations at home and abroad; attending workshops at the European Aviation Safety Agency in Cologne; and spending six months at the UK Military Aviation Authority working on exciting projects. I have worked on a number of projects including A400M aircraft support, UK Hercules aircraft fleet centre wing replacement project and Vanguard and Successor submarines project support.
I was thrilled to be granted the status of Incorporated Engineer by the Royal Aeronautical Society, which was a definite acknowledgement to the hard work and study I had put in.
I left the Ministry of Defence to take up a temporary aerospace teaching job at a further education college before founding my own aviation training consultancy Aerolegis. I wanted to experience the further education sector to understand what was happening with engineering education in the UK. It was an eye-opener.
Because engineering training and STEM education (science, technology, engineering and maths) is quite a passion for me, I am very keen to be involved in activities and work which can help towards resolving the lack of engineers including female engineers in the UK. I am heavily involved in my own research in this matter while also being an active STEM Ambassador and taking part in activities with schools, colleges and/or other organisations throughout the year. Some of my STEM work has included judging at the Big Bang Fair North West in Liverpool, being a panellist for a Q&A session at the Manchester Science Festival 2015, attending museum school events and even writing a STEM guide for secondary school children and teachers.
In 2016, I was shortlisted in the Special Award category for the inaugural UK Women in Defence Awards 2016. More recently, I am referenced in “Women in STEM Disciplines -The Y factor 2016 Global Report on Gender in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” by C Shmuck, Springer Publishing, Switzerland.
I support very much the goals and purposes of the Women’s Engineering Society and feel that the Society has helped me a great deal in my own career. I have appeared in various newspapers and on-line articles in a bid to encourage more women into engineering. I firmly believe it is never too late for anyone, regardless of their age, to learn something new.