I have realised I can do anything I put my mind to, and I would love to instil this mindset to all young girls.
Read: our interview with Eleanor
Why did you want to be an engineer?
Even at a young age, I was captivated by the idea that everything we use today had once derived from nothing, and through the creativity and innovation of engineering, was now vital to everyday life.
My focus on chemical engineering was instigated by an inspiring talk I attended, given by a representative from Aston Martin. During the talk, I discovered how diverse engineering was and how many types and fields of engineering there are. After further researching the topic, I realised chemical engineering touches almost every aspect of every person’s life in the world, from medicines and food to the distribution of water to people’s homes. What really excited me was the variety of areas that a chemical engineer can be utilised to help people in different walks of life, whilst also improving the standard of living for individuals. I felt that this is where this field could be used to its full potential to further advance first world countries and help to promote a better standard of living in the more deprived areas of the world.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Sheffield and Chemical Engineering in particular?
Initially, factors such as being taught in the Diamond, one of the best teaching spaces in the UK and having that hands on experience with large scale process equipment excited me. However, the moment I visited the University of Sheffield, I knew there was something about it that made it different from the rest. I felt that it has the perfect balance of everything I was looking for and I completely fell in love with the city. Not only did the University and its outstanding resources offer me an appealing learning experience, but the city itself radiates a buzzing social aspect. Furthermore, I realised there were few places where I could travel a short distance to witness some of the most incredible views in the Peak District. All staff and students seemed so friendly and the opportunity to go to events at the best Student's Union in the country seemed very attractive.
Tell us a little bit about Anchor Magnets; how did you get the internship and what was your experience like there?
My role working at Anchor Magnets was instigated during a Product Design lecture taught by the departments Dr Alisyn Nedoma. During the lecture, she used Anchor Magnets as an example to encourage the class to think of creative ways of solving some product quality issues the company was facing. After the exercise she revealed this was an actual real-world problem and she was looking for someone to help her and the team at Anchor Magnets to uncover what was causing the problem and find a solution. Due to my natural passion for problem solving and inquisitive mindset, I was immediately intrigued. I became excited by the idea that I could apply all the knowledge I had learnt at university to a real industrial problem.
My role involved working with experienced production operatives on the shop floor; problem solving under guidance of the company’s technical leader; using the university’s lab facilities to analyse raw material samples under guidance of my supervisor; analysing data and making recommendations for process improvement. A highlight of my experience was being able to work at the company in person, enabling me to meet remarkable individuals with decades of experience in the engineering sector and providing me with a plethora of knowledge that I will be able to apply for the rest of my engineering career.
What has been the highlight of your engineering journey so far?
I would have to say the people I have met. Throughout my degree, I have experienced working in teams with a wide variety of young engineers, each with amazing characters and have built friendships with many that will last a lifetime. I have learnt so much from working with them and the interpersonal skills I have developed will apply to the rest of my engineering career. I have also received a tremendous amount of support and guidance from the staff at The University of Sheffield, and I aspire to work on some of the inspiring projects similar to what they have when I graduate.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My long-term goal is to obtain a Chartership with the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) by continuing to work on projects that I am passionate about. In the nearer future, I would love the opportunity to lead big processes and projects and be able to work in multidisciplinary teams in a Year in Industry placement. I have recently been accepted for a placement year at Syngenta, working within the Formulation Technology Group at their International Research Centre. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to use the state-of-the-art facilities at Jealott’s Hill to apply the knowledge and skills I have developed at university and help improve and optimise the agriculture industry.
Another ambition, that is important to me, is to encourage as many women as possible to consider going into STEM. Earlier on in my engineering career, I felt that I needed to prove myself as a woman in engineering. However, as I have gained more confidence at Sheffield, I have realised I can do anything I put my mind to, and I would love to instil this mindset to all young girls.
What’s the best thing about being an engineering student?
Despite spending a long time working on one specific problem, the incredible feeling when you know that you have used your own creativity and problem-solving skills to finally reach a solution, could not be achieved in any other discipline other than engineering. Having experienced this in mainly a university settings, I cannot wait to solve global problems that really matter and make a positive contribution to society in the near future.
Read more about Eleanor and the internship she gained through the university's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) programme at Anchor Magnets.
We spoke to Eleanor in November 2021.
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