PROFILE: University celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

Today (Friday 23rd June) is International Women in Engineering Day 2017. The day focuses on amazing careers in engineering and technical roles for girls, and celebrates the achievements of outstanding women engineers around the world.

Here are just handfall of such women, staff and students, from the University's Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Professor Danielle George, Vice Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and a Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering. 

Originally from Newcastle, Danielle has a long association with the University of Manchester having studied her undergrad, masters and PhD at the University.

She then went on to work at the University’s Jodrell Bank Observatory as a senior Radio Frequency Engineer, before taking up a lectureship post in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

On her numerous roles at the University, she says: ‘My days are never the same, but that is what I love most about my job. It challenges me many different ways. One minute, I am a researcher, some days I teach undergraduates, the next I am inventing a Robot Orchestra!”

Danielle also devotes a lot of time to outreach and public engagement activities and is huge advocate of promoting careers and study in engineering for women and young girls.

She added: ‘I am passionate about raising public awareness of the positive impact engineering has on our everyday lives! Especially highlighting to young people the immense depth and breadth of opportunities a career in engineering can offer. One of my key aims is to get across just how creative engineering is.’

Neha Chandarana, PhD Research Student, Materials for Demanding Environments

Neha is originally from Leicester and moved to Manchester for her undergrad. Having been in the city for six years, she now calls Manchester home. But it was at school in Leicester that her love of science began.

She explains: “I was a bit of a science and maths nerd, but I also really enjoyed textile technology, so for my A-Levels I decided to study them all! I took Chemistry, Maths, Physics, Textiles and Biology. Then I studied Textile Science and Technology at University Manchester, but it took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do at university.”

Now researching her PhD at the University’s Northwest Composites Centre, she says its important all students get the support they need to succeed: “I am a woman who loves science and engineering, and I get to live that every day. Every female should have access to STEM subjects and be encouraged to study them. And so should every male. For me it’s not about getting more women into engineering. It’s about ensuring that every student is supported in the decisions they make on their education journey."


My days are never the same, but that is what I love most about my job. It challenges me many different ways.
Professor Danielle George

Caroline Gaju, MSc Student, Engineering Project Management, Rowland Equity and Merit Scholarship

Caroline comes from Rwanda and has an Equity and Merit Scholarship funded by a donor to the University. The Equity and Merit Scholarship scheme, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, offers talented students from some of the world’s poorest countries the opportunity to gain vital skills that will benefit their communities back home.

She says: “The Dylan Thomas line, ‘rage and rage against the dying of the light’, is something that inspires me a lot. It speaks about fighting to keep your inspiration burning, and that is underlying theme of my life.”

It is this inspiration that is the driving force behind her ambition to excel in a “male-dominated profession” and encourage girls to follow careers in engineering.

Caroline adds: “My experience in engineering, both at university and in the professional world, has revealed a male-dominated profession. In this patriarchal society, there is a huge need for more women to be given the opportunity to gain more knowledge and exposure, so that that genuine gender equality can be realised.”

Caroline also uses her own experiences to educate and inspire the next generation by taking part is mentorship programmes designed specifically to encourage girls to embrace the ICT industry in Rwanda.


Ellie Townsend, MEng Student, Civil Engineering, MEng Civil Engineering with an integrated Foundation Year

Ellie joined the University’s Civil Engineering programme through the University’s Foundation Scholarship scheme, because she lacked the Physics A Level needed for her course. Foundation Scholarships offer a ‘Year 0’ for students from diverse educational backgrounds or those without the appropriate qualifications for their chosen degree.

Having completed the one-year foundation programme, students are able to progress onto their chosen undergraduate course.

Ellie’s Foundation Scholarship is generously funded by Engineering Manufacture and Management alumnus Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, who this week was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to secure low-carbon electricity.

She says: ‘Lacking a Physics A-level, my confidence in progressing onto an engineering career was low. Entry requirements to do civil/structural engineering required both maths and physics at most universities, but once I discovered the foundation year, I believed this was my chance to work hard and get where I wanted to be.”

Her hard work paid off and Ellie is now taking full advantage of what she describes as a second chance: “I am a strong believer in the fact that if someone wants it enough, they will work hard enough for it. And that is what I did. Being a foundation year student feels like a second chance to try and prove what I'm capable of and I am thrilled to be given that chance.”

So why did Ellie have such an ambition to study civil engineering? She explains: “I really wanted to choose a profession that allowed me to give back to the community. Plus, I also wanted to thrive in a male-orientated career!”


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