Female submarine design engineer inspires pupils

Tara McWilliams with a science class from Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy.
Tara McWilliams with a science class from Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy.

Pupils at an Ilkeston school were treated to a lesson with a difference to mark National Women in Engineering Day.

Rolls-Royce submarine design engineer Tara McWilliams visited Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy to talk about her career and give students a chance to try some of the techniques she uses on a daily basis.

Tara told a group of year 10 pupils that she had no scientific qualifications when she began her career in the Rolls-Royce post room over ten years ago.

She was offered a chance to work towards an engineering degree while keeping her job at the company. Her sponsored degree allowed her to pursue her current role as a design engineer on nuclear submarines.

Tara’s talk was a hit with the pupils who described it as inspiring and enjoyable.

The lesson was arranged to celebrate National Women in Engineering Day on Thursday, June 23, under the partnership “Teach First and Rolls-Royce: engineering UK STEM talent”.

According to the Institute of Engineering and Technology, only 9 per cent of the UK engineering workforce is female, the lowest percentage in Europe.

Education charity Teach First has been working with manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce since 2014 to address the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills shortage by bringing teachers into low-income communities to champion those subjects and educate their pupils on the opportunities available in the sector.

As a strong advocate of getting more girls into STEM, Tara said: “I didn’t think science was for me until I joined Rolls-Royce and saw some of the incredible things the company was doing. By going into the school to bust some myths about engineering I have shown everyone in the class, especially the girls, that engineering is an exciting career worth considering.”