Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Bethan Murray

Bethan Murray

I read a lot of stories about women who have taken on a career in engineering and who spent time in garages due to an interest in cars, motorbikes, energy and other areas which are more obviously associated with engineering. I did not fall into this bracket – which can be seen at work with my pink steel toe cap safety boots.Bethan Murray

Although engineering never stood out as an option to me initially, I have always had a keen interest in science; I read the ‘Horrible Science’ series of books from a young age. Sadly throughout school I was slowly put off science whilst studying for my GCSE’s and originally opted not to take any science subjects further into A-level. However, I was lucky enough at the age of 17 to be taken out of school for a week and sent to a Leadership Academy based at the US Space Centre in Huntsville Alabama. The project was funded by Honeywell in a bid to encourage bright students from all over the globe to consider engineering as a career path due to the lack of engineers being likely to cause problems for Honeywell and other companies alike. This experience helped me to realised the opportunities available and hence restarted my A levels to now incorporate Maths Physics and Biology.

During my studying towards A-levels I realised that I fell into the first bracket of students to be affected by the rise in University fees. Whilst I had originally been expecting to pay around £3,500, the fees increased to £9,000 and so I started to look for other routes into a career in engineering. I was advised by family and friends to investigate Rolls-Royce, as my main interest was aerospace engineering due to my week spent at ‘Space Camp’. The scheme I applied for was particularly appealing as I am still able to obtain a full MSc in 4 years – exactly the same as I would have done at University, whilst avoiding £50,000 of debt. The scheme not only offers me the degree but also business experience, a salary and a wealth of skills that I hadn’t even imagined whilst at college. The only concern was missing out on meeting new people and having the ‘student life’ at University, however when I realised up to 200 young people join the company in the same position every year I quickly realised the decision was a ‘no-brainer’.

The A Level Entry Manufacturing Development scheme was initiated in 2012 and I was part of the first intake. The aim of the scheme is to produce a pipeline into management roles such as production leaders. Participants work towards a full MSc in Engineering and Business Management from Warwick University. Achieving this Masters qualification takes the same amount of time as it would do if you left after A-Levels and studied full time at University – except with this scheme you have experienced theway business operates in the real world, and avoided astronomical debt.

On the Manufacturing Development scheme at Rolls-Royce we undertake 6 month placements in different functions and businesses to gain understanding of the company at a broad level; so a typical day is difficult to describe. At the moment I am based in the Precision Casting Facility where turbine blades for all variants of engines are produced. The function I am currently based in is Capability Acquisition which involves ensuring the facility has the capability to undertake any required processes to the tight tolerances required. This often means writing specifications, gaining management buy in, locating suppliers, requesting machine development, placing orders, overseeing project plans, overseeing the area preparation for a new machine to be moved in, overseeing and managing supplier deliveries and installation, commissioning the machinery and clearing the machine through capability readiness levels.

The obvious benefits of my scheme are the tangible ones – such as salary and business experience to add to your CV, but to me it is other things that count the most. I have gained so much more self-confidence than I thought possible and become more mature in the year I have been with Rolls-Royce. I know I can walk into a room of managers and deliver a presentation effectively and appropriately for a work environment. Not only are there endless benefits within career progression and networking but there are other benefits outside of work – I have relocated from Manchester to take up this amazing opportunity and have gained so much independence; e.g. I drive a Mini, have my own space and have learned to tackle the responsibilities that these things bring.

Rolls-Royce has not only given me engineering skills, I have gained many others such as presentation skills, facilitation skills and accreditation in lean six sigma.

Outside of work I enjoy person hobbies such as dance and cheerleading. I am also heavily involved in STEM ambassador work, to try and give other students the career advice I missed at school to prevent them making the same mistake I did of not taking on STEM subjects at A-Level. A key focus of this is also to encourage more girls into engineering!



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