From 21st to 23rd July, Georgina Griffiths and Sophie Rowson, Year 9 students at Burgess Hill School for Girls, spent three days at the University of Bristol on a residential engineering programme for girls, organised by The Smallpeice Trust.
Both students worked on ‘real-life’ challenges led by 19 female engineers from Airbus, Lloyd’s Register, National Composites Centre and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).
Students were guided through all stages of product development, from the initial concept to final testing and were faced with real-life issues including the need to work within a budget and make the project commercially viable. Projects included designing and building a bridge, a centrifuge, an aircraft and a cargo ship.
As well as the practical side of the course, students attended lectures and presentations delivered by engineers from Dyson, Ford and the University of Bristol.
Georgina Griffiths said: “I really enjoyed it, especially the interactive sessions in small groups. My group designed and made a bridge. We tested it for strength, taking into consideration the cost and weight of the materials. Overall it was a great experience!”
Sophie Rowson also reflected on her experience: ‘I really enjoyed sharing ideas with girls from all over the country and I was interested to find out more about the importance of engineering in the design of things that I see and use every day. I found the speakers inspiring and it has changed my views on engineering. I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend the course and would definitely recommend it!”
The girls also enjoyed an entertaining social programme which included a film night and a formal dinner and disco with guest speaker, Laura Howarth-Kirke, a former winner of the Science Engineering Technology (SET) Student of the Year Award.
Claire Fisher from The Smallpeice Trust added: “Thanks to the generous support of The ERA Foundation and Lloyd’s Register Foundation, we have been able to offer these budding female engineers an opportunity to learn all about the diverse careers available in engineering.
“Challenging projects were led by some of the biggest names in the engineering industry, for which we are very grateful. All credit to the students as they all embraced the opportunity and showed extreme dedication and enthusiasm to their projects and the course as a whole.”