On a wet Wednesday morning, eight Year 12 and 11 students from The Royal High School trekked up to the University of Bath for a ‘Women into Engineering’ day. The experience gave us a chance to look into engineering at university, as well as where a degree in this field could take us. The day started off with a general talk on engineering, where we found out about the different areas of study, which helped show how broad an engineering career can be. Next came a talk from the head of the student lead society, Women in Engineering. She was very passionate and engaging and told us a little more about what it was like to study a PhD in engineering. We then went off to our separate workshops. We had the choice of 4 different sessions based around chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, architectural and civil engineering.
The chemical engineering workshop was inspiring and personally helped me confirm that this is a degree that I definitely want to do. We started off making our own lipsticks, which is something that a few of us hadn’t even linked to chemical engineering. We got to melt our own wax, add pigments to make the colour of our choice, and then mould the wax, before putting it into the lipstick tube. It was great to see how everyday products we use link to chemical engineering, and we learnt how this is done on a large scale which is what makes it a little more complicated but exciting. Then the workshop got even better as we popped some popcorn. We had to do this at the right temperature in a tube, whilst passing air through it to allow only the popped kernels to be filtered up into a popcorn bucket. This was efficient as it just left the kernels in the bottom close to the heat, so they were able to pop, making the maximum product. Moving on to the more scientific part of chemical engineering, we looked at air being bubbled through algae and learn how this can help to reduce polluted water by using up the nitrates and phosphates as nutrients for the algae, so the water is less polluted. We also looked at yeast, and how bubbling air through it can produce lipids and therefore be a more sustainable source of palm oil that deforestation to grow crops.
After a quick tour around parts of the University and a lunch break, we moved on to our second workshop. The mechanical engineering workshop was different to what we were expecting, as we spent the time designing a game with materials given to us. After listening about ‘Fantastic Beasts’, a game integrating Mechanical, Electronic and Software design, that had been designed at the University and which people will soon be able to buy in shops, it was then our turn. In groups of 4 or 5 we were given a story to base our game around, and just 30 minutes to come up with a basic child’s board game. My group designed a game around the ‘Cat in the Hat’ book. It was a themed board game and had different rules, with the aim to collect as many objects as possible as you went round the board. It was really interesting to see a different side to Mechanical engineering.
We then re-grouped to hear a final talk about industrial placements which was very exciting, especially as some placements were with Cadburys. It was also really great to hear from some female engineer alumni about how their degree experience had evolved into their career. Overall it was a brilliant day and a great experience.