A recent BBC article on the engineering gap highlighted that women make up around just 8% of engineers in the UK. This is at a time when the UK needs to produce thousands more engineers, so much so that inventor Sir James Dyson is planning to open his own institute to address the skills shortage.
In other European countries, the figure is at around 20%; a recent congressional estimate is 14% for the USA. The Institute of Physics states that 49% of state schools send no girls to study A-level physics. Of those students who are taking an A-level in the subject, only a fifth are girls, despite getting similar grades at GCSE as boys.
The Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering at Birmingham is committed to providing a thriving environment in which female engineers can achieve their potential and advance their careers within the field of engineering. The Department is proud to be fielding an all-female undergraduate team in this year's BEng Final Year "ROV (remotely operated vehicle) Challenge" Project.
The team, pictured above, will be working under Professor Bob Stone's supervision. The aim of the project is to develop a range of subsystems, from underwater sensor packages to novel designs for the human-ROV interface, and to integrate those subsystems onboard the Department’s ROV with the ultimate aim of landing it on the aft helicopter deck of the wreck of the of ex-Royal Navy Frigate, MS Scylla.
Professor Stone said:
"This is a long-overdue and very positive development; I'm really looking forward to seeing what systems IngeSarah, Prabina, Okeoghene and Jessica design over the coming months for our ROV. This will hopefully lead to a sea trip next March to dive their solutions onto the wreck of the Scylla in Whitsand Bay near Plymouth."
The team have a tough act to follow as one of last year’s project students, Sara Altunaib, became the first undergraduate to design and develop an underwater sensing system that actually made it onto the decks of the Scylla.
Sara, pictured below, said :
"Engineering bridges creativity and exploration; it has always offered me a means of expressing myself. My journey with engineering has been an exciting one with great moments of personal achievement."
"Each project has had its own unique role in my growth as an engineer. My final year project with Professor Stone where I took on a ROV project, played a particularly important role. It was here that I was given the environment not only to surpass my own expectations, but also to amalgamate all the knowledge that I have cultivated throughout my academic years."
Sara is currently working towards her Masters; as part of the course project she will design an aerial magnetometer to fly on a drone. This will then assist with the search for the remains of the two Westland Whirlwind Fighters that crashed into the treacherous Foxtor Mire in Dartmoor on 29th December 1940.