Stemettes is an award-winning social enterprise working across the UK & Ireland to inspire and support young women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers. This year, its Summer Camp welcomed approximately 200 girls aged 11-15, and was designed to open their eyes to the range of STEM-related jobs available to them and enthuse them about future career options.
Leonardo’s three engineers – Hania Mohiuddin, Erin Connolly and Anneka Dawkins – shared insights about their respective careers and interests, and answered questions about pursuing a career in the aerospace sector.
When asked by attendees about the most exciting thing that she has worked on, Luton-based Aerospace Systems Engineer, Hania, talked enthusiastically about being able to design and build her own light aircraft and being “crazy in love with aircraft.” Edinburgh Senior Project Planner Erin’s advice was “to think big and act small. Keep your goal in mind and try to think of small ways you can achieve it. Also, lean into people you know.” Meanwhile, Anneka, a third year Technical Apprentice in Yeovil, responded to a question about how the pandemic has affected her work, explaining that “lockdown posed the challenge of paving your own way and taking ownership of your working day. However, I’ve loved working with my current team to develop ways of working remotely and seeing it can make us even more efficient in some areas.”
All three agree that these STEM events are invaluable for reaching new audiences and inspiring the next generation of engineers.
“They’re a really good way to show all the amazing things you can do with a STEM career,” says Erin. “I was inspired by STEM and always knew I wanted to pursue a career in this area. One of the most valuable experiences I had was taking part in a Nuffield Science Bursary during secondary school. I worked in a team with a group of university researchers to make a ‘Lab on a Chip’ device. This experience helped me decide on going to university.”
Hania echoed Erin’s sentiments about the value of STEM outreach events, and explained about her own route into engineering. “When I was about 11 years old, I dreamt that an F-16 landed on top of my house. I got into the aircraft and I flew off. The feeling of flight and the curiosity of how that machine was flying has kept me interested in aviation ever since, and has driven me to learn more about various aircraft systems,” she said. “As someone who is now working in an industry I care so much about, I am passionate about being a role model and a mentor who can encourage and guide young people to pursue a career in STEM. Earlier this year, in collaboration with one of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s international divisions, I launched the first ever online ‘Aviation School’ – a classroom style lecture series for kids aged 10+, delivered by professional engineers. The lectures are now inspiring kids around the world, even attracting some as young as 4 years old.”
Anneka, who got into engineering by joining Leonardo’s apprenticeship scheme at 18, added: “Having attended a very university-focussed school, it took me some time to realise that there were other options open to me that didn’t include going to university…and I’ve never looked back. I was delighted to be invited to join the Stemettes panel as these events are super important since they are so inclusive and show everybody what opportunities are out there for them. During this time of Covid-19, this type of event is particularly important because it works so well online; they are safe to attend, and anybody can join from wherever they are.”
Talking about the value of being involved in the Summer Camp, Leonardo’s Head of Inclusion & Diversity, Nerys Thomas, said: “It was a privilege to be part of this event, one that inspires the next generation of female engineers to consider a career within our industry. There are so many exciting and rewarding opportunities and it’s up to us to showcase them and present excellent role models who the girls can look up to and aspire to be like.”
About our engineers
Hania Mohiuddin MSc BEng MRAeS MINCOSE is an Aerospace Systems Engineer in Luton. Her work and expertise span multiple fields in aerospace engineering, including radar systems, sensor fusion, combat aircraft ejection systems, aircraft landing gear systems, UAV systems, autonomous vehicles and human-powered aircraft. She completed her Master’s degree from Cranfield University specialising in Autonomous Vehicle Dynamics and Control (UAV and UGV guidance and navigation systems) and Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering (Avionics) from The University of Sheffield. Hania is Chair of the British Human Powered Flying Club (BHPFC), a STEM Ambassador and a member of various Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) committees. She continues to mentor young engineers and promote careers in Aerospace and Aviation sectors.
Anneka Dawkins is a third year Technical Apprentice at Leonardo’s Yeovil site. She started in a manufacturing engineering role for the electrical manufacturing centre and then for both new build and mid-life upgrade contracts. Anneka represented the company at a virtual event for the Royal International Air Tattoo, where she promoted her STEM activities. She now works in programme management, allowing her to apply her technical knowledge to large-scale scheduling. She thoroughly enjoys the international aspect of her job, working with customers around the world.
Erin Connolly is a Senior Project Planner in Edinburgh. From a young age, she was inspired by all things STEM, which ultimately led her to study Mechanical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, where she pursued research into the application of 3D printed materials. After finishing her degree, she joined the Leonardo Graduate Scheme, where her rotational placements gave her a wide experience of the entire company. She is actively involved in Charity, LGBT+ Network and STEM Outreach.