She's an Engineer- Kirsty McDermott

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Route into engineering

I undertook an Apprenticeship in Welding and Fabrication, where I learnt skills, whilst attending college part time to achieve my BTEC ONC, HNC & HND in Manufacturing Engineering. I then joined National Grid on an Engineering Training programme, which was a Higher Apprenticeship, where I continued study part time to achieve a Foundation Degree in Gas Transmission Engineering and achieve my role specific training too.

Job description

It’s my job to ensure that all the welding activities which are carried out on the gas transmission network are welded properly to the relevant standards. I am considered a Subject Matter Expert for Welding and Materials, my knowledge, experience and support is key to providing assurance to the business to ensure the assets we construct are safe and reliable.

My job can be very varied, I can be out on site, if I’m needed to support construction projects, or I could be in the office reviewing procedures. Sometimes, I even travel overseas to visit our suppliers manufacturing facilities too.

Don’t be afraid to try again. Sometimes it can feel quite overwhelming especially being ‘the only girl in the room’ or feel like you don’t have a voice. This can knock your confidence, so it is important to stay true to yourself, have confidence in your ability and don’t be afraid to speak up. Above all, just be sure to do what makes you happy!

My proudest moment to date is being recognised in the WE50 2019. With regards to a project, my first full time role at National Grid following my training programme was as the Engineering Lead for Project GRAID (Gas Robotic Agile Inspection Device) this was a ‘world first’ in terms of developing a robot to inspect pipelines, and something I’m very proud to have been a part of.

I’ve found so much value in being a part of the Women’s Engineering Society. It’s good to open your network wider than just your specific industry. Particularly in the field of Engineering, a lot of the challenges we face are the same, particularly around skills shortages. I feel it’s important for everyone to know they’re not alone even though sometimes it can feel it, especially if you work in remote locations, or are a minority in a group. Having a resource of like-minded people, you can call on is so helpful and rewarding – especially when knowing you can help others too.

A lot of the projects I have worked on have had their own challenges! But I think that’s what makes it so rewarding when you get it right. On a personal level, I have had to deal with challenges too, which probably have span throughout my career to date. Often being the minority in the room, I have had to deal with my fair share of stereotypes, who will judge you and your abilities before they get to know you. But that’s just helped me to shape me to be the person I am today. Without that will of wanting to prove people wrong, I wouldn’t have found myself with half the opportunities I have. I’ve found with those situations, you just need to have one person in your corner encouraging you to keep going.

3 KD