Female Engineer of the Month
Lucy Ackland - Renishaw
Lucy started as an apprentice at Renishaw in 2004 when she was just 16 years old. She did one year of offsite training where she completed a number of NVQ's and started a national certificate in mechanical and manufacturing engineering. In her second year, Lucy returned to Renishaw and worked in the machine shop, moving on to study for a foundation degree in mechatronic engineering, which she completed three years later.
Lucy then moved into a placement in the machine tool products division at Renishaw, where she worked on the development and testing of radio transmission measurement probes for use on CNC machine tools. Continually learning, Lucy progressed into a project coordination role and started running a number of projects worth upwards of £100,000 pounds.
After gaining valuable knowledge and experience, Lucy began studying towards a degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering and graduated with a first class honours degree in 2012. She also created and ran a team of process development engineers and was responsible for the design, development and manufacture of test rigs.
In April 2014 Lucy was offered a secondment to the additive manufacturing products division and project managed the design, development and manufacture of a brand new 3D printing machine that prints in metal.
In addition to her work and education, Lucy has spent a large amount of time encouraging young people into engineering. She has been a STEM ambassador, hosted technology teardowns and activities with local schools, presented at seminars, and has judged and moderated STEM club projects in addition to volunteering with Young Engineers. In 2014, Lucy was invited to join the board of trustees of the Young Engineers and won the Women's Engineering Society prize.
See what Lucy had to say about her experience in engineering:
Why did you choose to become an engineer?
At school I enjoyed Maths, Science and Design Technology. When I was 13 years old, I was invited to attend an engineering experience weekend course. I had a fantastic time working in teams with large engineering firms to solve problems through design and development activities. From that point on I knew I wanted to become an Engineer.
What skills do you have that make you a good engineer?
Some of the skills that I have that enables me to be a good engineer are; problem solving, team working, organisation, visualisation, IT skills, communication, maths and time management.
What advantages do you have as a female engineer?
As a female engineer, I have had a lot of opportunities to do public speaking and attend a variety of events to promote engineering to girls and young people in general, this has really helped improve my communications and presentation skills which have really helped me develop myself within work.
What has been the most exciting project that you have worked on?
The most exciting project that I have worked on has been the development of Renishaw’s next generation industrial 3D printer which prints in a number of different types of metal. Renishaw is the only UK manufacturer of this type of technology and we showcased the new machine in Germany in November 2014. 3D printing is a really exciting and new technology and I am really pleased that I have been a part of it.
Engineering is still often perceived as a 'male' industry. What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in engineering?
Whilst engineering has many stereotypes, it really has come on a long way in recent years. It is a really exciting industry to be involved in, there are always new technologies being developed in clean, modern and interesting work places. Engineering is a valued and viable career option for men and women alike and I can see no reason why it should be any different.
What key fact would you share with parents about the opportunities for women in engineering?
The apprenticeship route really worked well for me and I urge parents not to overlook this. It is a great way of gaining valuable hands on experience whilst getting real qualifications (including degree level) which are often fully funded by the company.
Engineering firms are often not household names, so there may be a number in your local area that you have not have heard of, so do some internet research or look in local newspapers and then contact them regarding potential opportunities for young people. You will be amazed how much is out there.