To help celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2020, we asked Stirling’s Jennie Palmer to talk about what attracted her to engineering, what it is like working as a Materials Engineer and what advice she would give to young girls considering a career in the industry.
From a very young age, I have always had an interest in how things work, and I was particularly fascinated with aircraft. Much of my childhood was focused on this interest; I joined the Air Training Corps (ATC) at 13 and began flying lessons towards obtaining my private pilot’s license (PPL) at 14. From flying aircraft to partaking in engineering work experience opportunities, my interest in the mechanics of flying led me to pursue a career in aerospace engineering.
To get where I am today, I took an academic route and obtained my A-levels before going to university to undertake a BEng in Aerospace Engineering. Throughout my time at university, my interests moved away from how things work to why things break! This led me down the path of an engineering doctorate (EngD) in structural materials. Upon completion of my doctorate, I wanted to begin my engineering career with a company that works on a wide range of projects and that is how I came to work with Stirling Dynamics.
“Throughout my time at university, my interests moved away from how things work to why things break! This led me down the path of an engineering doctorate (EngD) in structural materials”.
LIFE AS A MATERIALS ENGINEER
I’ve been working at Stirling for just under a year and the great thing about working for the company is that not every day is the same. One day I could be reviewing mechanical test results on the in-wheel electric taxi system programme, WheelTug, and the next I could be investigating unexpected corrosion on a steel component in our products. The only thing that was guaranteed on a typical day at Stirling (pre-COVID lockdown), was the light-humoured, welcoming office atmosphere. Not much has changed since lockdown though, other than all communications with my team and customers are online, and my commute is a lot shorter!
Even though I haven’t been working with the company for very long, I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to several projects. However, WheelTug has been a standout project for me. This is because I have not only worked with the design team to determine the best-suited materials and coatings for all aspects of the wheel, but I have also been able to get involved in the design aspect of the project, including modelling and drawing components. Whilst at Stirling, I have also enjoyed the exposure to the products designed and developed within the company, having input into design changes. I’ve even received training in software, such as Ansys, which has allowed me to develop and learn new skills that have enabled me to broaden my engineering capabilities.
GO FOR IT!
My advice to young girls considering a career in engineering would be, don’t let gender dictate your career choice. If you have a desire and passion for engineering, then pursue it. You won’t regret it. It is an ever-developing industry that will always provide new and exciting challenges, allowing you to continue to learn and never get bored.
For more information on International Women in Engineering Day 2020 or the Women in Engineering Society, visit: https://www.wes.org.uk/