“Harry would always ask me to go for a walk with him to see if we could find stuff, so we would go out and find sticks, stones, shells and we would speak about how what we see in nature can be related to engineering – that’s how I knew the competition would be for him.”
Harry’s prize-winning invention
Harry, aged 10, designed an innovative multi-function drone that bought together modern technology and spectacular design. Fitted with a water hose to put our flames and filter systems to clean polluted air and extract smoke from fire sites – Harry’s invention brought together the world of firefighting and sustainability, wowing the judges with its potential to revolutionise disaster responses across the globe.
“The fact that Harry made this amazing invention is inspiring, but the fact that he also thought about the wider environmental impacts shows how clued up our younger generation is about the issues we face today. We should be capturing these great, young brains,” said Jill.
For winning the competition, Harry was transformed into a comic book hero as part of the STEM Squad, designed by Marvel. He also got to meet world-renowned astronaut Tim Peake – Harry’s hero.
“Harry loved his day at the London Science Museum meeting Tim Peake and Danielle George, and now all he wants to be is an astronaut.”
“On the plus, Harry has been inspired to do his homework as soon as he gets in from school!”
Always an influencer
Jill has always wanted to help encourage others to consider careers in STEM after she had a fantastic mentor at Sellafield, where she worked as a Technical Manager.
“I still remember him now,” she said. “He supported and helped me gain my membership to the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) – now the IET – through non-standard routes as I wasn’t a trained electrical engineer but a more general engineer.”
“Ever since, I have wanted to support others with their careers and help them think about what they want to do, as, at school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be, and I certainly didn’t know I wanted to be an engineer.”
Jill only began her engineering career in her 30s after deciding to go back to university as a mature student. Her dad was an Aeronautical Engineering in the RAF before teaching mathematics at university - due to her parents separating she was not exposed to the industry until she was older.
“With bills, a mortgage, and only an A-level in geography and biology – not quite the A-levels you would expect to take you into engineering – I was worried,” said Jill. “But I had seen two of my dad’s friends manage it, so I thought I can too, and there began my career as an engineer.”
How to help inspire the next generation
Engineering and technology are about innovation and to get children excited and interested in STEM, we need to encourage them to use their imaginations to create things.
“We’ve stopped children from thinking on their own and I think we should be allowing them to play offline, so I buy them toys that they need to build like Lego and let their imaginations run away, away from the screen.”
“When I do start to move away from my engineering job, I would love to go into schools and mentor our budding engineers who will be one day helping to solve the issues we face as a society.”
For now, Jill says she will continue to showcase what a wonderful, diverse and exciting career you can have within engineering, no matter what sector of the industry you go into.
“So, get children outside and get them thinking about how things work and also get involved with IET activities, like Super Realoes and Engineering Open House Day to help children understand that they can one be like their heroes – just like Harry with Tim Peake.”