Female Rolls-Royce engineer inspires future STEM talent in schools

Pupils at a Derbyshire school have treated to a lesson with a difference to mark National Women in Engineering Day.

Roll-Royce Submarine design engineer, Tara McWilliams, spent an hour with a group of Year 10 students at Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy. She spoke about her own unusual journey into engineering and gave the young people a chance to try some of the techniques she uses on a day-to-day basis.

Tara, who had no scientific qualifications when she began her career in the Rolls-Royce post room over ten years ago, 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.

Education charity Teach First has been working with 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.

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

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.”