International Women in Engineering Day, June 23rd, is an annual day of celebration and awareness for women working in the field of engineering, and the wealth of career opportunities in the industry that are available to girls. CDE is proud to champion the women thriving in engineering roles within the company, and to shine a light on our contribution in creating our best world, a ton at a time.
Laura McNeill, Process/Chemical Engineer at CDE, explained, “I’m responsible for most of the pilotscale testing, including those for specialist sands and ores… The lab testing ensures the customers plant is specifically tailored to the materials they work with and allows us to optimise the plant. Most of the material [that our clients deal with] goes through some degree of testing, so I’ve been involved in a lot of international projects. I really mean it when I say I’m proud of all the lab work I do.”
With CDE supporting clients across the globe, Claire Hamill, Electrical Engineer, agreed that it’s impressive to see the reach of her work. “I’m lucky to have been involved in projects around the world, including in the UK & Ireland, Europe, Middle East, Asia, North and Latin America… I was also the lead Electrical Engineer on our first project with our customer SOMEVAM. I’m particularly proud of two of our Australian mining projects - Iron Baron and Iron Knob for our customer SIMEC - where the towns relied heavily on the mines. Tonnes of excavated dirt and soil (overburden) needed processed to extract iron ore. The fact that a whole population depended on these mines and our plants being successful for their livelihoods meant a lot.”
The roles occupied by women engineers at CDE range in experience from Senior Technical Systems Engineer to Placement Quality Engineer, currently occupied by student Caoimhe Dickey.
She said “I’m in the third year of my Mechanical Engineering degree. I’m involved in all different projects- but mainly I look after Quality standards, which involves the approval of incoming, in-process and finished materials. We’re always making sure things leave our factories at the highest possible quality.”
But not all the engineering roles have a focus on manufacturing, as explained by Claire, “CDE is a mechanical engineering-based company. When I applied, I wasn’t entirely sure where I would fit, but I quickly realised that these machines don’t work without power. Our vital role is putting power to the plants using smart systems and control panels, to ensure they are running efficiently. Every machine is run by electricity- our role keeps them running as designed.”
Statistics show that just under 13% of the engineering workforce is female, and women engineers are still hugely under-represented in their profession. With fewer female role models, it can be difficult to encourage young women and girls that a career in engineering is for them.
“There’s always going to be a demand for good quality engineers. The industry is portrayed as very male-focused. If you alienate women and girls, you’re losing 50% of your potential talent pool before you even begin, and a massive number of good engineers.” Tracy O’Kane, Senior Technical Systems Engineer
A number of CDE’s current women engineers commented that they received support from teachers or inspiration during their time at school, with Ada Szymanska, Graduate Laboratory Process Engineer, explaining “I consider all female engineers and scientists to be heroes. In particular, my physics and chemistry teachers are heroes of mine. Both were females and they inspired me. They made me realise I love sciences and that’s why I pursued a career in this area.”
For those considering a career in the industry, they advise researching the multitude of possible fields, gaining some experience, if possible, to have a better idea of what area best matches your interests, and simply taking the leap.
Claire says, “Do it. You’ve nothing to lose with an engineering degree or apprenticeship. And the apprenticeship route is one I think that many females don’t realise is even an option for them”.
Further highlighting the diversity of opportunity that a background in engineering also brings, Amy Giles transitioned from aeronautical engineering to become CDE’s Head of Business Improvement.
She said, “There are so many routes within engineering. After working in Business Development with a world leading manufacturer of business jets, I became a Business Analyst at CDE and progressed to my current role. I was also the first female Project Manager at the company. The Business Improvement department reaches every part of the business. We’re the facilitators of change and development… We find better ways of doing things to ensure we deliver what the customer needs.”
At the heart of all CDE’s operations, is providing their clients with tailored, optimised solutions that enhance their operations with significant return on investment.
“Engineering is ever evolving, so we need to be encouraging more to pursue a career in the field. We need a continuous supply of fresh minds. Having more female voices will lead to more variety and variation in the solutions. Ultimately, we need more people that want to solve problems.” Claire Hamill, Electrical Engineer
This International Women in Engineering Day, CDE is proud to champion its Engineering Heroes who dare to be part of the solution, celebrating the outstanding achievements of women engineers across the world and encourages other women to break the mould and join them.