Nexus IE is celebrating International Women in Engineering Day #INWED17 on June 23rd. We couldn’t think of a better way to support the message of encouraging young people and women into a male dominated industry than by introducing you to some inspiring females who are doing just that. Having already met engineering graduate, Laura Tuck in our first interview and Sita of ‘Girls of Steel’ (an all girls robotics team from East Barnett School) we meet Helaina who is a programmer working alongside Sita.

Helaina’s family is originally from Cyprus and with no one she knows having ever pursued a career in engineering, her experience of robotics was a completely new one. She believes it is important to show young people that engineering is for everyone.

Thank you Helaina for talking to us! We would love to know more about your engineering interests and your recent achievements.
I have just chosen engineering for my GCSEs and I am looking forward to continuing this seasons VEX Robotics game. After going up against the UK’s 40 best robotics teams at VEX UK Nationals and winning with my robotics team Girls of Steel, we got the chance to go to America to represent the UK for the VEX World Championships. This was an amazing accomplishment as we were the second all girls team to ever win the UK national title. The first all girls team were Vex Impact, our mentors who are also from East Barnet School.

Well done to you and your team. It was really exciting to watch. We’d like to know more about your inspirations?
My main inspiration is our mentors Vex Impact who were the first all girls team to ever gain the title of Vex UK National Champions. During our time with them they taught us many lessons and told us their experiences of being a girl in robotics. Listening to how they succeeded really motivated me to keep going .

It is great to see skills and knowledge being passed down via mentoring. So what do you like most about engineering?
To me engineering is about creativity. My favourite part is being able to come up with ideas that you never thought were possible and make them happen in real life. Robotics is all about being creative and coming up with the best design to compete with.

Do you think engineering has an image problem?
In my opinion I do think that engineering is seen as a field for males. This makes young girls feel as if they don’t have a place in engineering and that it is only for men, so they never end up trying engineering.

What does International Women in Engineering Day mean to you?
To me, International Women in Engineering Day is a day to celebrate inspiring women in the engineering field and to reach out to young aspiring female engineers. It is about coming together to show other what a huge role women play in engineering.

What do you think schools can do to engage girls and/or young people with science and engineering?
Starting from a young age girls should be introduced to engineering and later shown the different career routes that are available to them. There are lots of different paths available in engineering that would interest young girls but if they don’t know about them then they won’t choose to pursue engineering.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow a career in engineering?
My advice is just to go for it. Before I started getting involved in robotics and engineering, I never thought that any STEM careers were for me and now that I am involved, it has completely changed my view.

It’s really great to meet Girls of Steel individually and thank you for taking part in our #INWED17 mini interview series Helaina.

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