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Stephanie Travers - Petronas Trackside Fluid Engineer at Formula 1

Time for more women to forge careers in engineering

A Formula 1 trackside fuel engineer, the chief programme engineer at Ford, the head of environmental science at HS2 and a project manager behind the London 2012 Olympics… what do they all have in common?

Answer: they are all University of Bradford alumni and they’re all women. More specifically, they are women forging careers in engineering.

Women in engineering might be outnumbered by men but they’re not overshadowed – that’s the message from course leaders at the University of Bradford, who want to see more women taking up engineering courses.

They recently marked International Women In Engineering Day (IWED) 2020 with a special ‘virtual’ event on Tuesday June 23, which included a panel of guest speakers, many of them alumni. The event was such a success, there are now plans to stage another event later this year and to mark IWED annually.

Dr Elaine Brown, Reader in Mechanical and Process Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics, said: “Engineering is a rich and rewarding career with fantastic opportunities but women are underrepresented. This means many women are missing out on the exciting experiences on offer and is also bad for business and the economy because gender diversity is shown to increase team performance and lead to more innovative solutions.

“At the University of Bradford, we appreciate diversity, and love that our students bring diverse experiences and perspectives – we see at first hand how this enriches the engineering ideas that students develop during our projects and problem solving activities.

“Our wonderful graduates who have had the advantage of learning in this environment are ready to apply their skills in industry and business. Diversity is a win-win situation and so it’s obvious – we need to encourage more women into engineering.”

Kate Hall, who is not part of the panel but studied engineering at the University of Bradford (1992-1995), was Project Manager for Arup’s work designing the infrastructure for the London 2012 Games. She is passionate about getting more women into engineering.

“I went into engineering because I wanted to work on landscape projects. Some of the exercises we did at the university were pretty close to real life. I was always excited about building iconic projects. In terms of giving real experience, a lot of people choose to have a year in industry, so people on the course and lectures had that business reality as well as theory and I think that really prepared us for going out. There were about 100 people on my course, and three [of those were] women. I’m passionate about trying to help women into engineering, to see what exciting career it is.”

The event is being held in association with the University Gender Staff Forum and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team. There will be a number of female speakers to share stories about working in the engineering industry. Dr Brown is opening the event, Professor Udy Archibong will be chairing the session and there will be a Q&A session at the end.

The University runs undergraduate courses in: Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil and Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and more, while postgraduate courses include Advanced Chemical and Petroleum Engineering,

Advanced Civil and Structural Engineering, Automotive Systems, Smart Grids and Energy Systems. There are also undergraduate courses in Computer Science, Cyber Security, Software Engineering and postgraduate courses in Big Data and The Internet of Things.

Further details on our students and staff, and Women in Engineering Day 2020, are available HERE.

Mai Elshehaly - Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Bradford

Brief biographies on the speakers:-

Mai Elshehaly

(Lecturer in Computer Science, at the University of Bradford)

She received her MSc and PhD in computer science at Virginia Tech, USA. Her research focuses on how information visualisation contributes to constructing cognitive models that facilitate decision making.

Stephanie Travers

(Petronas Trackside Fluid Engineer at Formula 1 and University Alumni)

Born in Zimbabwe, she completed her BEng in chemical engineering at the University of Bradford and went on to complete a masters. She works as a trackside fluid engineer, providing technical support and analysis for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team, beating 7,000 applicants to the job.

Saskia Lear

(Engineer at ARUP and University Alumni)

A chartered civil engineer with over 20 years experience in infrastructure, she was lead structural designer for one of the sections of the St Pancras Station extension and ran construction of the award winning Barnsley Transport Interchange. She graduated from the University of Bradford in 1997 and joined Arup in 2000, where she has worked on bridges, flood defences, railways and roads.

Orla Murphy

(Engineering Quality Transformation Manager at Jaguar Land Rover 

and University Alumni)

She completed a second masters (MSc in Engineering and Process Excellence) at the University of Bradford from 2014 to 2018 but joined Jaguar Land Rover in 2012, where she is leading transformational projects to improve processes. Orla was the Institution of Engineering & Technology Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2015, the Royal Academy of Engineering Young Engineer of the Year 2016 and was listed in The Telegraph and The Women’s Engineering Society honours list of ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering’ in 2017.

Sarah Haslam

(Chief Program Engineer at Ford and University Alumni)

With 22 years’ experience in the automotive industry in many different roles in quality, product development and manufacturing, she is leading a team of engineers to deliver engines to meet the EU emission requirements and is a council member for the Women’s Engineering Society (WES).

Sohila Jalilian

(Senior Official Control Auditor at Food Standard Agency)

A professionally qualified food safety specialist and certificated ISO 9001 lead auditor, she has 25 years in quality management.

Liz Sackett

(Lecturer in Engineering, Swansea University)

A lecturer in materials research currently working in close collaboration with Tata Steel UK, with over 10 years experience in postgraduate and commercial research on a wide range of alloys and composite.

Sabina Nizamuddin

(Head of Environmental Science for HS2)

A volunteer and mentor for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, she has over 10 years experience running complex, high value projects.