She's an Engineer- Caitlin McCall

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Route into engineering

At school, I did a two-week placement with a local military defence company who then offered me a summer placement working for them during my degree. I chose to do Mechanical Engineering with a year in Industry, where I went to work for a diesel engine company called Cummins. After I did my Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, I chose to do an engineering doctorate with a research company in the field of printed electronics.

Job description

I am an engineering researcher in the field of printed electronics. Conductive lines, just like wires can be printed using many types of printer including the one that you may have in your own home. I test ideas out on these printers to create lines that can conduct electricity. This technology can be used to make things like heat emitting clothes for winter sports and sensors to detect when food has gone off. Check out one of my latest projects with a London fashion designer where we made a dress with light up thunder bolts.

On a normal day, I read about and speak to people about projects and research from all over the world. I then find gaps in the research and come up with ideas for my own. I spend a lot of time in the laboratory experimenting with these new ideas and machinery.

Also, I have been very fortunate to attend conferences all over Europe to present my research and learn from other researchers in my industry, which means I can be out meeting new people and gaining inspiration for projects.

Don't be afraid to give everything a go and make sure to give it 'your all' when you do.

My high school teachers were my inspiration for considering Engineering as a career. They helped me to enjoy STEM as a whole and one helped me to get a two-week placement in a local military defence company, which I absolutely loved!

One of the best projects I have worked on took place at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. A group of us at my University decided to use the 3D printers in our laboratories and with the help of local companies, we made face visors for key workers. We were making a few hundred each week with the help of all our volunteers. We got our design CE marked, which meant the NHS could safely use our design and we gave the idea to a local company so that they could make the face visors on a larger scale and much faster than we had been making them.

This was a great achievement as it was a huge project that happened so fast, and we were able to use our resources and knowledge to help keep all the key workers safe.

If you want to read more about the project, click on this link.

I didn't know what degree to choose when I finished school. I knew I wanted to go to University but I was unsure what to study so I asked for advice from lots of people around me to help me reach my decision.

Caitlin McCall