We asked Eloise to tell us about winning I’m an Engineer, and here is what she said…
First of all I would like to say a huge thank you to the I’m an Engineer! team as well as the teachers and students who took part. I had so much fun and hope you did too! The questions were fantastic and some of them were pretty tough. Describing my PhD research – which most of my friends don’t understand – forced me to work harder on how I communicate complicated ideas. Great preparation for my viva exam! I really appreciate all of the votes and hopefully I will be able to put the prize money to good use on your behalf (more later). Thank you also to the other amazing engineers – Jarrod, Iona, Yip and Adam. I think we were quite a team, answering all of those quick fire questions!
I hope that we have shown the students that there are all sorts of different types of engineering problems and to solve them we need all sorts of different types of people! Whether you’re into space or health, physics or psychology, there’s an area in engineering where you can be creative and tackle important issues.
Without a doubt, the most important thing in my career so far has been finding role models. It can be really hard to get somewhere if you can’t see someone like you who’s already done it. One thing that came through from the chats is that those who already knew someone who was an engineer – a parent or relative – seemed more confident that it could be a good choice for them. I really relate to this because my family aren’t ‘science-y’ or ‘techie’ and I was the only one of my (many) siblings who chose sciences and maths at A Level. Still, my parents really encouraged me to pursue engineering (and let me fix stuff around the house!) because they knew I loved solving problems, also, my uncle, who’s an engineer, had a great job. When we had a ‘go to work with your parents’ day, I went to my uncle’s company and then it seemed like a real possibility. Hopefully these chats are just the start for some students and they can seek out more chances to meet and talk to engineers.
My main source of inspiration is still talking to other people working in engineering and technology who are doing amazing things. I sometimes find it intimidating to talk to people I admire, but if I can identify with them in some way I start to think, that could be me one day. I thought it was great how bold students could be over online chats. It helped me too – I felt like I was just chatting to friends about what I do rather than being ‘judged’. I’m unbelievably grateful to the people I’ve met in my career so far who’ve taken time to talk to me about their work, asked about my own aspirations and offered advice. I took part in I’m an Engineer! in the hope that I could do the same in return. So, if the chats have inspired one person to consider engineering as a career or challenged their assumptions of what an engineer is like, then that would be incredible!
So. What will I do with the money? Well, I’ve been developing some kits for kids in my spare time that I hope will give 7-11 year olds the confidence to make things and hack with tech. These kits focus on hardware rather than coding because I think there are already loads of great initiatives to get kids coding. I’m going to use the prize money to build more prototypes and set up the company. One student suggested I use competitions to get kids excited about the kits, which I think is an awesome idea. I could also use online chats to get feedback!
I’d like to finish by saying, one of the questions I heard a lot was, ‘Is it hard being an engineer?’. This really showed me how much my mindset has changed since I was at school. Back then I thought people were either good at something or not, and I didn’t see working hard as a good thing. Now I know that to do cool stuff, you have to work hard. The most important thing is persevering and bouncing back from things that don’t go your way. It’s so inspiring to talk to students who are inquisitive and ambitious – if you hold onto that through set backs then I think the future of engineering is pretty safe in your hands!