From a very early age, I was set on a scientific path. My father (an engineer) and I set up science experiments, made loud bangs and nasty smells and altogether had loads of fun. I had mastered long division by the age of 6 and had completed the maths syllabus long before finishing junior school, which left the school slightly unsure of what to do with me!
Secondary education was at an all girls school where I took physics, chemistry and maths at A level. However the school careers service made no mention of engineering as a career, and I went on to read an MPhys at York. Missing out on a graduate role at a large engineering firm due to lack of engineering experience influenced my selection to do an MSc in Environmental and Energy Engineering, based in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, at the University of Sheffield followed by a PhD in the area of Tidal Power, again at the University of Sheffield. The research involved Failure Modes and Effects Analysis and risk assessment development.
Whilst at university, I was a STEM ambassador and was in an outreach team trying to get children involved with science and engineering. My opening gambit to hold children’s attention was to use popcorn or candyfloss machines. At Sheffield University, I worked on Project Sunshine which focuses on finding sustainable routes to worldwide food and energy security. I involved parties of school children in design ideas for solar panels and various other renewable energy schemes.
I knew I wanted to work in the energy sector and with my love of maths, risk assessment modelling was seen as a logical career choice. I am now a graduate consultant at Corporate Risk Associates which is a Risk Management Consultancy providing services to a wide range of sectors including nuclear, chemical process and oil and gas. I am currently applying techniques such as Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis.
My career advice for girls is simple. ‘Go for it.’