Engineering - Making it in STEM

25th January 2013 at 00:00
Don't worry if you're the only girl under the bonnet

I have always been interested in how things work and my father has always supported that, encouraging me to help repair cars, use power tools or build a teardrop caravan. At my first high school I was manager of the Formula One team, building and racing little gas-canister-powered cars. Later I got involved in Greenpower projects.

When I did work experience at a garage, a man, seeing me emerge from under a car, asked if I had got lost on the way to the hairdresser. But having been named outstanding science and engineering student of the year and outstanding student of the year in the National BTEC Awards 2012, I have had the last laugh.

My father has a battery company and is one of a long line of engineers on both sides of my family, the most famous being my great-great-grandfather, who was the chief engineer on Ernest Shackleton's expedition to the South Pole. And my mother is the daughter of an engineer, so it is in my blood.

But it was when I first visited Loughborough College that I knew engineering was for me. At Loughborough I was the only girl on my engineering course, and this took some adjustment. But everyone was great. I never left the boys in any doubt that we were on equal intellectual footing.

I have been involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) workshops and events with schoolchildren, giving them the chance to experience exciting, real-world engineering activities. I want to banish the stereotype that all engineers are men and it is great to have the chance to change that. It is encouraging that more girls are due to start the engineering course at Loughborough this autumn.

The college has supported me in testing my engineering design, a response to the loss of air pressure in a bathysphere during entry and exit that can result in hearing loss for divers. I've been told it is pioneering and could have commercial applications.

Anyone with a passion for engineering, whether male or female, can be a good engineer. Dealing with some people's perceptions can be difficult at times, especially when they underestimate you. But it can be done.

Megan Turner completed her level 3 Extended Diploma in engineering at Loughborough College. She is now studying design engineering at Aston University.

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