International Women in Engineering Day 2021


The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is marking International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on June 23 by sharing the stories of our students, graduates and staff at the University's School of Engineering who recognise a problem, dare to be part of the solution, and help to support lives and livelihoods every day.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Master’s student Nelly Fernandez is building on the expertise and skills from her studies at University gained through collaborative industry placements, to further her career in the field of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT).

Organised by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), INWED is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls in this exciting industry. 

It is widely acknowledged that women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) at university and in the general workforce. Recent data from UCAS demonstrates that women make up only 35% of STEM students in UK universities.

While there have been some gains, as evidenced by the WISE campaign data, showing that there are now more than one million women working in core STEM roles across the UK, there is still much to be done to increase women's representation in this field.

At UWTSD we want our students to know that they have access to mentoring and support from our female academics who have forged a career in STEM. We hope that by sharing their own journeys, we can inspire you to see yourself as an Architect, Engineer, Computer Scientist, Quantity Surveyor, Environmental Scientist, or any one of the diverse opportunities that are available to women in STEM.

UWTSD Master’s graduate Nelly Fernandez is building on the expertise and skills from her studies at University gained through collaborative industry placements, to further her career in the field of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT).

Nelly has a master’s degree in non-destructive testing and evaluation from UWTSD and works as an application/product support engineer at ETher NDE in St Albans.

ETher NDE is a company that manufactures eddy current equipment, probes, and accessories. Nelly’s role as an Application/Product Support Engineer sees her work actively in design, as well as serving as liaison with customers to provide pre- and post-sale technical support. The company is also involved in different research projects to develop new technologies, where Nelly has responsibilities in probe design, testing, writing reports and engaging with the other partners.

Whilst studying for her MSc in NDT&E at UWTSD, Nelly had a placement with UWTSD’s industrial partner Oceaneering SIS in Swansea, where she undertook her experimental work as part of her master’s Dissertation research project.  The research, ‘Assessment and Validation of the Lyft System for the Detection and Sizing of CUI with Associated FE Modelling’, involved the assessment and performance analysis of pulsed eddy current inspection and imaging of corrosion under insulation along with associated computer simulations.

Nelly said: “I was taught by some of the best professors in the field, especially Professor Peter Charlton who was my tutor, and had the experience of working under the supervision of Richard Granville at a company like Oceaneering, which gave me a great understanding of the industry as well provided me with the knowledge and confidence to thrive in it. 

“Knowing that one’s daily work is helping the world function, as well as improving and maintaining people’s quality of life, is definitely rewarding and motivating. I want to encourage more people, especially women, to delve into the world of NDT and make an impact.

Abbie Summerfield is an Engineering Lecturer at UWTSD. She said: “When people ask me what I do and I say I am an engineer, one of the common follow-up questions is, ‘how did you end up doing that?’. Like many women I know in engineering, there is often a family connection to the profession. My dad, although not an engineer, was a semi-professional rally driver through the eighties, and so motorsport was an inescapable part of my childhood.

“Then one day my father asked me to contact UWTSD and request a prospectus.  When it arrived, he showed me that they were offering a course in Motorsport Engineering. I realised that this was something for me. I haven’t always been confident in maths but had a great female teacher who inspired me to do well.

“The Automotive & Motorsport Engineering at UWTSD was everything you would want it to be and more, and although challenging, if you put the time in, it was achievable. Following graduation, I worked for race and rally teams then began teaching on the course I had graduated from.

“I now get to meet young people from all types of backgrounds and facilitate them in achieving their dreams of working in engineering. I still occasionally get to go back and work at race meetings, particularly endurance racing which I love.  The challenge of getting a team to work together and get a car to the end of a race gives you the most amazing sense of achievement! We always encourage our students to join the active race teams we have at UWTSD. If you are excited about what you are studying, it’s easier to be successful.” 

Dr Carlene Campbell leads several postgraduate and undergraduate modules for Computer Networks and Cybersecurity courses at UWTSD.

She is also the Institute Manager of Research Degrees within Wales Institute of Science and Art (WISA). She said: “Science and technology are the leading areas that are transforming and automating the lives of people. These areas are lacking a female presence, and we desperately need to have more women pursuing careers in technologies that are often dominated by men.

“I was an excellent math student and did very well in the sciences. After graduation, I worked in the health sector, epidemiology, and was assigned a mentor, Dr Herma Carpenter-Bernard, who saw my abilities and believed in me. She encouraged me to pursue a career in Computing and I truly believe in the benefits of mentoring to support students in achieving their goals. It was a very male-dominated field and throughout my studies, I would either be the only female or totally outnumbered by the males in my classes. It was the same in work but thankfully, this is slowly changing.

“The STEM field needs more women, particularly in Computing and technology. It’s rewarding and fulfilling when you are making things happen, inventing, coming up with new ideas, and we can impact the STEM field in so many positive ways. STEM is an exciting field to be involved in, and we can make our voices heard and learn not to shy away from communicating our ideas.”

Dr Deborah Hughes is the Programme Director for the University’s Quantity Surveying and Built Environment programmes.

She said: “There have always been barriers for women in construction but thank goodness these are now starting to disappear. When I studied for my master’s degree, I was one of only two women in that class. We are now seeing far more women coming through training especially at the professional level in the industry, be it Quantity Surveying, Civil Engineering, or Construction Management.

“Representation of the broad spectrum of society is important in any field. Having been involved in the construction industry for most of my life I feel it is important to encourage young women coming through the education system that they have an important role to play in the direction that this industry takes going forward.”

Rhian Jenkins leads on the Environmental provision within UWTSD. She said: “There are a tremendous number of powerful women who are working in the scientific field, Gro Harlem Brundtland who brought sustainability to the political agenda in 1992, and the yachtswoman Ellen McArthur, whose foundation has been key in inspiring people to consider the circular economy and waste management.

“One of the most influential women of our time who is certainly an old head on young shoulders would have to be Greta Thunberg, who has really inspired the younger generation in a way that we haven’t seen for a long time, empowering young people to stand up and question government’s decisions over the way that they tackle climate change.

“STEM is an area that should be attractive to women and girls, we have certainly seen an increase in the number of women within my discipline.

“My advice to any woman, and we certainly need more in the field of STEM, is to give it a go, it’s not as difficult as you imagine it to be, there is plenty of support if you are concerned about your level of science and mathematics. The job opportunities are broad and far-reaching and the salary that goes with any stem-related subject can be substantially higher than other professions. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.

“If someone tells you that you can't do something, then let it galvanise you. Focus on what you want to do and keep knocking on doors. We are here to support you in your own academic journey.”

Second year Motorsport Engineering student Tamzyn Davis said: “I used to be a mechanic and I wanted to upgrade my career to do something a little bit more than fix cars, to learn more about design and how it all works. So, the next logical step was university and motor sport really.

“The lecturers are fantastic at UWTSD. Nobody has ever said to me: ‘you can’t do that you’re a girl’ or, ‘why would you do that.’ I’ve been given the same opportunities as everyone else on the course with the race team and everything else. Engineering is so interesting; we do great work here and there is help if you ever need it from the academics.”

Taylor Winter a 2nd year Automotive Student added: “The lecturers are so friendly and easy to get on with. You’ve always got somebody to turn to, even if they don’t know how to answer your question, they will pass you onto somebody else, you are never pushed away. Abi and Kerry (Engineering lecturers) have been fantastic, they are so easy to talk to and help with all our engineering questions.”

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Mobile: 07384 467071