Nineteen-year-old Emily, a third year technical apprentice at Leonardo UK, is on a mission to become a successful and respected technical specialist engineer. After finishing her Highers at high school she kept her options open by applying for university and several apprenticeships. She is currently studying HND Engineering Systems at Edinburgh College while working as a technical apprentice in Industrial Engineering four days a week.
What were you doing before you began your apprenticeship?
I worked at McDonald’s as a part time crew trainer while I was at high school completing my Highers.
What made you want to be an engineer?
I always enjoyed Physics and Maths at school, not because I was great at them but because I found them challenging and interesting. I really enjoyed the problem solving aspects of the subjects. My dad is an engineer, I think that influenced me and was part of the reason why I was interested in engineering too.
How did you become an Engineering apprentice?
I applied for university and several apprenticeships while I was at high school. The only reason I applied for university was because that was the direction I was told about, after doing some research I realised that an apprenticeship would be a great route for me to take.
The appealing thing about apprenticeships is the blended learning aspect. You get to use the theoretical knowledge you learn at college in practical hands on tasks at work which aids your learning and helps you pick up the theory more quickly. I am really enjoying working in a practical environment while studying and gaining my qualification.
What does your day-to-day role involve?
As an apprentice within a large engineering company each day is a new day to learn. I am working alongside engineers who have 20+ years’ experience within the company and I have the opportunity to absorb as much information from them as possible.
My role is in Industrial Engineering, which is the bridge between manufacturing and design engineering. My day-to-day job involves working alongside the shop floor to resolve problems and demonstrate the resolutions to engineering to see if preventative measures can be put in place to stop it from happening again.
What is the best thing about being an engineer?
The best thing about being an engineer is that I get to work on new product introduction. I get to see first-hand the advances in technology and be a part of the problem solving team which proves new designs.
What traits do you think a good engineer should have?
You need to be a good problem solver and be resilient. When you are problem solving you often have to try many things before finding the solution, you can’t give up at the first hurdle. Having an eye for detail is important too and you need to be motivated, you have to be passionate about the sector you are working in.
Engineering hasn’t traditionally been associated with women. What advice would you give women thinking about getting into engineering?
Being a female in the engineering industry – which is still a very male dominant sector – can often feel daunting. However having a strong strength of character has really made me stand out from the rest. My confidence has grown an enormous amount since starting my apprenticeship and has helped me grow as a person.
My advice to anyone thinking about getting into engineering would be to keep your options open when choosing what you want to do after school, look into the different avenues such as university and apprenticeships and find what suits you best.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
My mission is to become a successful and respected engineer within Leonardo and the engineering sector. My short term goals are to complete my apprenticeship and secure a job in Industrial Engineering. My long term goals are to go on to study at university, to gain a degree in optics, and become a technical specialist within Leonardo.