Do what you're interested in. Don't do something because you think you should do it, do it because it really sets your heart on fire
Watch: our interview with Carol
My name is Carol Morris, I graduated in 1990 with a degree in Electronic Engineering.
I went to Sheffield University as a mature student, I was 32 when I started at Sheffield and I had two small children, who at the time were 5 and 7. So it was quite difficult for me to fit all this in. And Sheffield were fantastic in helping me to do that.
I don’t ever feel that I was out of place even though I was 10-12 years older that the majority of the students there and in some cases older than some of the lecturing staff. I just fitted in; I didn’t ever find it a problem. It was a great experience.
Why Electronic Engineering?
That came from my study with Open University modules I’d done when my children were small, and I’d not done particularly well at school at A Level, I’d passed Physics and Chemistry, failed A Level Maths and just drifted into Chemistry from school. I suppose I got interested in mathematics because I was determined that I could do it, that I should be able to do it and started to study some mathematics modules with the Open University and got more interested in the engineering side of that and how mathematics could be applied.
I work for The Open University, I’m a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering and Innovation, which is part of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology. I’ve worked for the Open University for twenty years, almost since I graduated. For the last ten years I’ve been an Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, with responsibility for setting the learning and teaching strategy for the faculty. But I’ve just stopped doing that and I’ve come back into the department as a Senior Lecturer and I’m not working on producing module materials for the students.
If you think that I’d been at home with two small children for 7 years, I’d been out of the workplace for that period of time, the one thing that I would say that Sheffield gave me was the confidence to go back into the work-force.
Do what you're interested in. Don't do something because you think you should do it, do it because it really sets your heart on fire.
Thoughts on women in engineering.
I think a lot of the lecturing staff at the time didn’t really know, or didn’t perceive that would be any different for female students, why would it be? How could engineering possibly be gendered? Female students often need to be able to relate to what is being taught and if you can do that and put it in the context that female students can relate to then it is much more successful.
I did a little bit of post-grad work when I was at Sheffield University and one of the things we did was organise some days for fourteen year old girls to come in to the department, play, they made bridges and towers out of old newspaper and tried to lift masses with motors that they’d made themselves, they got onto bicycles and tried to light up light bulbs and see how effort there was in doing that. And what we were trying to dispel were the myths around engineering, that you need to get your hands dirty or its all about scrabbling about underneath the bonnet of a car and that’s nothing to do with what a professional engineer does.
So I think the more that the university can engage in those kind of activities, to really dispel the myth about what engineering is and to ensure that people understand what a professional engineer does and how exciting a career it is.
Do what you’re interested in. Don’t do something because you think you should do it, do it because it really set’s your heart on fire. It’s what you want to do and you’re passionate about it. That would be my advice. As well, this isn’t something, it’s a choice between career and family. It’s not it’s something that you can, if you’re determined, you can do.