Women In Engineering Day: The Forces Behind UK Space Excellence

21st Jun 2024
Women In Engineering Day: The Forces Behind UK Space Excellence

On 23rd June, the world celebrates Women in Engineering Day to recognize the contribution of girls and women in the field of engineering. This day highlights women engineers’ achievements and aims to encourage more female professionals to consider careers in engineering.

Over the decades, the presence of women in engineering positions within the space industry has been rapidly growing, with women leading missions, designing spacecraft, and advancing space technology. To achieve real innovation, it’s essential to have a workforce that truly mirrors the diversity within engineering and the communities it serves.

By highlighting the exceptional contributions of women currently in the field, we aim to inspire the next generation of potential innovators.

Statistics Of Women In Engineering In The UK

In recent years, the representation of women in engineering roles in the United Kingdom has shown a positive, however gradual, increase. As of 2022, women represented 16.5% of the engineering workforce, a significant rise from the 10.5% reported in 2010. This translates to an increase from 562,000 women in engineering roles in 2010 to 936,000 in 2021.

Despite this progress, women remain underrepresented in various engineering disciplines. A detailed analysis reveals disparities within specific fields: only 8.1% of electrical and electronics engineers and 8.5% of mechanical engineers are women. More representation is seen in fields like chemical engineering (27.9%) and industrial engineering, including health and safety (25%)​.

Women In UK Space Engineering

According to the 2020 Space Census by the Space Skills Alliance, women comprised about 29.4% of the UK space sector workforce. This percentage places the space industry ahead of some other STEM fields in terms of gender diversity but still shows a significant gap compared to the broader UK population, where women constitute approximately 51%.

Women In UK Space Engineering: Progress & Challenges

In the broader context of the engineering sector within the UK, women’s representation is gradually improving. As of recent data, women make up around 16.5% of engineers in the UK, which is a significant increase from previous years but still reflects the ongoing gender disparity in the field​.

To sum up, efforts to boost women’s participation in engineering and space industries are crucial. Initiatives like Women in Engineering Day play an important role in raising awareness about women’s achievements in these fields and inspiring the next generation of female engineers and space scientists.

Let’s take a closer look at these outstanding women’s experiences. This list is not a ranking, as every experience is important and invaluable.

Bethany Hall, Senior Systems Integration Engineer At Rolls Royce/Aerospace Technology Institute

Bethany Hall
Credit: LinkedIn

Bethany Hall is an accomplished Electrical Engineer working in the aerospace sector at Rolls-Royce and the Aerospace Technology Institute. Her role at Rolls-Royce involves working on innovative projects that enhance the performance and efficiency of aerospace systems.

In addition to her technical prowess, Bethany is highly interested in the human factors that accelerate innovation and enable technology breakthroughs. She is passionate about transforming the engineering industry to be authentically inclusive, advocating for the attraction of diverse talent to deliver sustainable solutions for a changing world effectively.

Bethany Hall has worked in sustainable aircraft development since being awarded the IET Power Academy Scholarship with Rolls-Royce in 2015. Over the past 12 months, Bethany has worked on the UK government-funded FlyZero project, which is investigating the potential for liquid hydrogen to fuel zero-emission commercial aviation.

Marisa Kurimbokus, Head Of Engineering At Aeristech Ltd

Marisa Kurimbokus
Credit: magazine.cues.org

Marisa Kurimbokus started her career at Jaguar Land Rover, developing the company’s CO2 reduction strategy before moving on to Triumph Motorcycles. She now leads the automotive division at Aeristech, focusing on sustainability through design for electric air compressor technology. She was awarded the title of IMechE Young Engineer of the Year in 2020 for her STEM work. She speaks regularly at schools and higher education institutions about opportunities in engineering.

With over 10 years of experience in the automotive and power electronics industry, Marisa is an enthusiastic Chartered Mechanical Engineer dedicated to delivering exceptional mechanical designs that support cutting-edge green technology solutions. Her achievements include being recognized as one of the “Top 50 Women in Engineering” in 2022.

“Engineering needs diversity in order to create that future,” Marisa says.

Passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), Marisa actively inspires and supports the next generation of engineers. She is an active member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, serving as an Industrial Company Liaison, Professional Review Interviewer, and Mentor and sponsor for Developing Engineers.

“I do still sometimes feel quite isolated as a woman in this field, but it is improving. There’s usually at least one woman in a team, but there can still be a problem with imposter syndrome. No one’s ever told men they can’t be engineers, that it’s a job for girls, so they have more confidence in their right to be there,” she adds.

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee, Team Lead Engineer At BAE Systems

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee
Credit: aerosociety.com

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee is a Team Lead Engineer at BAE Systems, a leading global defence, aerospace, and security company. With a robust background in aerospace engineering, Krystina specializes in the design and development of advanced flight systems critical to aviation and defence applications.

“The face of engineering is changing, which is encouraging and exciting. I’ve seen a lack of diversity in my sector, but never a lack of support for those of us who don’t fit the typical mould. Something that really impressed me, though, was the fact that I felt empowered to be a great mother and engineer. After I had my first child last year, I was able to strike a balance by returning part-time, meaning I was able to keep pushing my career forward while maintaining the family life I wanted,” she shared to The Guardian.

Krystina is passionate about aviation and engineering. She actively promotes diversity and inclusion within the industry through her platform AviateHer. AviateHer aims to inspire and empower women to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and sharing insights into the field.

Over the past few months, I’ve been busy with various events and activities for AviateHer and engineering:

  • Joined Helen Jones on BBC Radio Merseyside to discuss AviateHer and engineering.
  • Participated in a Speakers for Schools engineering spotlight session with 550 attendees in April.
  • Celebrated Elevate(her) Aviation’s anniversary with a Women in Aviation lunch at Bremont Watch Company.
  • Spoke with Claudine Hope on LIVERPOOL LIVE RADIO about engineering, AviateHer, and balancing motherhood.
  • Talked about aerospace engineering and AviateHer with The Flying Reporter at the Private Flyer Show.

Natasha Dunkinson – Engineering Integrator, BAE Systems

Natasha Dunkinson
Credit: engineeringtalentawards.com

Natasha Dunkinson is an Aerospace Engineering Degree Apprentice at BAE Systems, a prominent global defence, aerospace, and security company.

As an apprentice at BAE Systems, Natasha is gaining hands-on experience and theoretical learning in various facets of aerospace engineering. Her involvement highlights the company’s dedication to nurturing talent and fostering the next generation of engineers within the aerospace industry.

A few months ago, she was awarded the prestigious Bee Beamont Award at the BAE Systems Air Engineering Awards 2023. The Bee Beamont Award is presented annually and recognizes a newly qualified engineer who has made an outstanding contribution to the business in the early stages of their career.

Jennifer (Edwards) Barry – Payload System Lead, UK Space Agency

Credit: LinkedIn

Jennifer (Edwards) Barry is currently serving as a payload system lead at the UK Space Agency. She considers herself a hard-working and self-motivated Chartered Engineer with a deep passion for the aerospace industry. Jennifer brings a wealth of experience from her involvement in various programs across civil and defensive space sectors, holding diverse roles.

Also, Jennifer holds an MPhys in Physics with Astronomy from the University of Southampton, a testament to her strong academic foundation in the sciences. She is actively engaged as a registered STEM Ambassador, dedicated to inspiring and supporting the next generation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“I’m always amazed at how much we simultaneously look back and look forward,” she says. “There’s legacy work that was written before I was born and is still relevant today, but equally, there’s work we look at which is impossible now but may be possible in 10 or even 30 years’ time, and we’re already thinking about it and trying to adapt to it.”

Jodie Howlett – Senior Systems Engineer at UK Space Agency 

Jodie Howlett
Credit: LinkedIn

Jodie Howlett is a highly driven Senior Systems Engineer working within the Office of the Chief Engineer at the UK Space Agency. Her role underscores her expertise in engineering and her commitment to advancing space technology and exploration.

Passionate about diversity in STEM fields, Jodie actively coaches others and is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of engineers. She holds an MEng (Hons) degree and is an EngTech member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), reflecting her professional accreditation and commitment to excellence in engineering.

Nikita Shetti – Payload System Engineer, Airbus Defence and Space

Credit: We Are Tech Women

Nikita Shetti is a dedicated Payload System Engineer at Airbus Defence and Space, where she contributes her expertise to the development and implementation of advanced payload systems.

Also, Nikita is an award-winning satellite engineer at Telecoms, renowned for her expertise in RF, electrical systems, and test software development within the space sector. She serves as a STEM Ambassador, corporate volunteer, and Interim Registrant for Chartered Engineering Status, demonstrating her commitment to advancing engineering excellence and promoting STEM education.

Nikita’s professional interests span systems engineering, space electronics/processor systems (with a focus on DSP and FPGA architecture), and engineering management in the aerospace sector. She is also passionate about programming, showcasing strong coding skills in Java, and proficiency in Python, TCL, C++, and MATLAB/Simulink. Her fascination with space debris mitigation techniques and sustainability underscores her dedication to shaping the future of space exploration responsibly.

Her key achievements include:

  • Named Winner of Top 50 Women in Engineering 2023 by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) UK
  • Recognized as a TechWomen100 awardee
  • Awarded the UK Space Agency-SGAC Scholarship
  • Attended the Space Generation Congress (SGC) and International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2023 as a presenting delegate
  • Participated in a NASA-funded working group at the SGC on “Expanding Global Efforts to Implement Earth Science to Action Strategies”
  • Contributed recommendations to UN COPUOS through an SGAC report, monitored by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Yashi Kuplish – Aerothermal Engineer at Reaction Engines 

Yashi Kuplish
Credit: Reaction Engines

Yashi Kuplish is an Aerothermal Engineer at Reaction Engines, a company known for pioneering technologies in aerospace propulsion systems, including the SABRE engine. Having studied Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London, Yashi joined the company as a graduate engineer in 2017. Now she’s realising her childhood dream of working in space science and helping the company push the boundaries of spaceflight. Her role involves research and development in aerothermal engineering, focusing on the thermal aspects of aerodynamics in advanced propulsion systems.

Yashi’s far-reaching role covers many vital areas: 

  • Heat exchanger design
  • Ensuring adequate cooling of high-temperature exhaust passages
  • Conducting aerodynamic and thermodynamic design
  • Analysing engineering components to ensure they achieve the required performance
  • Creating computational models and analysing the results.

A few months ago, she represented Reaction Engines in this capacity, contributing valuable insights to the field. Yashi provided a perspective on thermal management solutions within hydrogen engine cycle architectures. 

Ann Fitzpatrick – Optical Systems Engineer at RAL Space

Ann Fitzpatrick
Credit: tandfonline.com

Ann Fitzpatrick is an Optical Systems Engineer at RAL Space, specializing in the application of physics to address biologically relevant questions. 

Her work focuses on utilizing ultrafast spectroscopy techniques to investigate the functionality of proteins and other biologically significant molecules.

Also, Ann Fitzpatrick has made significant contributions to scientific literature through her research in ultrafast spectroscopy and optical systems engineering. She has published several influential papers in renowned scientific journals, such as Nature Communications, The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, and Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. These publications explore diverse topics including proton transfer dynamics in fluorescent proteins, protein-protein binding using 2D IR spectroscopy, and photoisomerisation quantum yield in biological molecules.

Ann’s research also extends to using advanced X-ray imaging technologies to investigate light-induced phase transitions in materials like VO2. Her contributions are pivotal in advancing our understanding of fundamental processes at the molecular level, with implications for various fields ranging from biophysics to materials science.

The contributions of all these women to space engineering are invaluable. At Orbital Today, we are committed to highlighting these remarkable individuals through our series of articles. Stay tuned for the next parts as we continue to recognize the impactful roles of women in the space industry!

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