Giving children a taste of the world of work can fire their enthusiasm for engineering, says Tamsin Tweddell, a senior partner at building services engineering consultancy Max Fordham.
We can do a lot to inspire the next generation of engineers by working with schools. I have established a relationship with a local secondary school to provide mentoring to sixth-formers studying STEM subjects. The students come into our office to meet with their mentors on a monthly basis, so they get regular exposure to an engineering working environment. The school has a high proportion of students on free meals.
I have also worked with my children’s primary school to build a small pavilion for outdoor learning – the children were involved in the development of the design and reporting on construction.
It was efforts like these that played a part in my winning Building magazine’s Woman of the Year Award last November. The award is designed to recognise the stand-out achievements of women working in construction, in an effort to identify and highlight positive role models who can enhance the sector’s appeal to other women. I was nominated by my colleagues.
It is important for engineers to go into schools to talk about what they do. People outside the profession can have very distorted ideas of what engineering is like, and we can counter this by sharing our experiences. It is important to emphasise the huge variety of roles within engineering, and the positive contribution we can make to society and the environment.