University of Sheffield AMRC ‘inspires’ next generation of female engineers

  • Pupils from across the Sheffield City Region have been shown the potential of a career in engineering thanks to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)
  • Students from Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley were invited to the AMRC as part of a programme to inspire young girls to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and maths
  • Attracting more women into engineering is one of the most serious challenges facing the industry

Pupils taking part in the #AMRCTribe event

More than 100 pupils from across the Sheffield City Region have been shown the huge potential of a career in engineering thanks to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s (AMRC) #AMRCtribe campaign.

Pupils from schools in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley were invited to the AMRC, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, in the latest event of a programme which aims to inspire young girls to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Attracting more women into engineering is one of the most serious challenges facing the industry. A large part of #AMRCtribe, which launched in June 2019, is to create a supportive network for teenagers to talk openly about their interest in STEM subjects and STEM-related careers. An exclusive social media group provides a safe environment for young women to talk in confidence to like-minded peers who may attend different schools.

Ami Swales, the AMRC’s STEM and Outreach Coordinator, said: “We want to connect young girls from the Sheffield City Region so they feel they’re not isolated. Often they can be the only one in their friendship group that is interested in engineering, but with #AMRCtribe they can meet other people who have similar interests and it might empower them to pursue that career.

“We invited five schools to this event and each has had tours of the AMRC Training Centre, the Design and Prototyping Centre, Factory of the Future, Nuclear AMRC and our Manufacturing Transporter (MANTRA).”

Following the tours the teenagers were then set an engineering group activity, working in mixed teams, to build a model Ferris wheel using little more than paper, masking tape, string and bolts.

Asha Spruce, 16, from UTC Sheffield, said: “I think #AMRCtribe is such a good initiative because some women feel intimidated going into such a male-dominated industry. Having the tribe means there is support there and it gives us women a chance to meet others doing the same thing.

“Seeing the Digital Operating Theatre in the Design and Prototyping Centre was so impressive, I have never seen anything like that before – it was the best part of the tour. I knew I wanted to be an engineer before coming to the AMRC but until I saw the Digital Operating Theatre, I didn’t know medical engineering was an option.”

Speakers at the event, held at the AMRC’s Knowledge Transfer Centre, included Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Mark Wrigley and second year apprentice machinist at Boeing Sheffield, Rosie Davies.

Asha added: “Hearing from people like Rosie and seeing other female engineers working on the shop floor really inspires me – it shows that it can be done.”

Sam Booth, Head of Design Technology at Bradfield School in Worrall, said #AMRCtribe is key to promoting engineering to students at school: “One of the top ways to get girls into the industry is to show them inspirational female engineers and that is very difficult for us to do at school when there are just two engineering teachers, both of whom are male. When you bring them to an environment like the AMRC, straight away they can see that there are women in engineering and female apprentices at the AMRC Training Centre.

“Seeing the Design and Prototyping Centre was great because it is spotless and not what you think an engineering environment would look like. It is very, very high-end with engineers working on projects which these students found fascinating.

“Some of the girls have found it quite surprising really – they didn’t expect it to be exactly what it is, which has been really good. We just need to change parents’ misconceptions now because for the students it definitely has.”

On the exclusive social media group, Sam continued: “Having that continuation after today’s event, where hopefully the girls can speak to each other, could actually be something quite powerful. The key is that teachers are not involved – the pupils support each other.”

#AMRCtribe will continue throughout 2020, with further events for schools at the AMRC and STEM-inspired social events for those girls who are involved in the social media group.

“It is wonderful to show these girls things like the Digital Operating Theatre, Nuclear AMRC and Virtual Reality because that isn’t what they would be able to access on a normal day at school,” said Ami.

“A lot of girls do come to us with the mindset that STEM isn’t for them. We want to challenge stereotypes and show the girls that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.”

For more on the work of the AMRC’s STEM and Outreach team, click here.

Additional information

About the AMRC

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is a world-class centre for research into advanced manufacturing technologies used in the aerospace, automotive, medical and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

The AMRC has a global reputation for helping companies overcome manufacturing problems and is a model for collaborative research involving universities, academics and industry worldwide.

Combining state of the art technologies with the AMRC’s expertise in design and prototyping, machining, casting, welding, additive manufacturing, composites, robotics and automation, digital manufacturing and structural testing, has created a manufacturing resource far beyond anything previously available in the UK.

The AMRC is a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a consortium of leading manufacturing and process research centres, backed by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852