The Women’s Engineering Society is a professional network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration, support and professional development. One of their aims is to support women to achieve their potential as engineers and as part of this they organise a yearly student conference to celebrate a shared passion in engineering and technology and to open students’ eyes to career possibilities.
Nine members of the UCLWE were given the opportunity to attend the WES Student Conference on 18th and 19st November at Aston University. This was the 8th year the conference has run, bringing together over 150 students and engineers to inspire the next generation of engineering graduates!
The first day started off with two keynote speakers from Procter & Gamble and BAE Systems giving inspirational talks about the need for more female graduates to enter the engineering industry and the current challenges women face. Students also attended an interactive workshop on trenchless technology where they first attended a presentation and then were split up into eight groups and collaborated to find a solution to a real problem and present it to the audience. After a busy afternoon we were invited to dinner where students were able to network with engineers from the conference sponsors over some delicious food. A captivating after dinner speech was given by Dr Rhys Morgan from Royal Academy of Engineering who indeed has a great sense of humour!
After receiving a warm welcome back, the second day kicked off with a talk from Dr Sarah Peers, the VicePresident of WES, where she presented the statistics from WES studies confirming the male dominance across all engineering fields. Next, Dr. Joanna Collingwood from University of Warwick gave a passionate talk stressing the importance of introducing female role models into male dominated professions. Joanna was accompanied by her 5 year old daughter Anna who also took part in the talk! The morning sessions finished off with an introduction of the recently established WES Young Members followed by WES affiliated Student Groups across the UK. Our society president Danielle Luxton presented all the great things our society has organised along with some plans for the future! After refreshments we were split into groups and attended different workshops focusing on career development including ‘Communication and Inter-Personal Skills’, ‘CVs and Interviews with Impact’ and ‘Practical Skills’. For the last session we were divided into two groups and attended a panel session on Technical and Commercial Leadership featuring speakers from different engineering disciplines. The Plenary session was a passionate and motivating talk given by Dr. Georgia Kremmyda from University of Warwick, where she described the global challenges engineers need to address in the near future.
I’m sure that everyone who attended the conference left feeling inspired and confident about pursuing a career in engineering and our society strongly encourages students to apply next year! UCLWE would like to thank the Faculty of Engineering for sponsoring places for UCL students to attend the conference.
UCLWE members in Birmingham train station on their way to attend the conference
WES Student Conference was an amazing opportunity to attend an engineering event where (for once) the majority of participants were female. It was inspiring to hear the speakers share stories about their work how deeply passionate they were about Engineering. I also enjoyed the workshop on trenchless technologies which allowed me to learn about an engineering field I didn’t know anything about. Furthermore, the organisation of the conference was impeccable. Thank you to the organisers and Aston University for hosting us.
– Laure Durand
I found the WES conference very enjoyable and enriching in terms of what we –as women- need to know about this so competitive environment, which is Engineering! It was quite nice to meet lots of other women of different levels and careers: every single person had so many stories, plans and objectives, that you could definitely learn something new every single minute during the conference! Another thing I liked was the emphasis given to the fact that in order to succeed, it is not only technical skills what we need, but also how to reach people and transmit our knowledge properly in any kind of situation.
– Gabriela Andrade Lam