Press release

Five young female engineers are set to turn engineering stereotypes on their head

25 September 2014

Five young female engineers working on the next generation of 3D printers, laser warning systems for military aircraft and the cooling system for a futuristic new car, have all been shortlisted for a prestigious engineering industry award, which aims to banish outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and greasy pipes – and help change the perception that engineering is only a career for men.

Jessica Bestwick (20), Hannah Pearlman (27), Laurie-Ann Marshall (20), Naomi Mitchison (28) and Lucy Ackland (26), have all been shortlisted for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards.

The shortlisted candidates are:

  • Lucy Ackland is a Project Manager at Renishaw plc, working on the next generation of metal 3D printing machines.
  • Naomi Mitchison is a Senior Hardware Engineer at Selex ES, specialising in laser warning systems for military aircraft.
  • Hannah Pearlman is a Cooling Systems Engineer at Ford, working on the cooling system for the next generation Fiesta.
  • Jessica Bestwick is working as a Higher Technical Apprentice at Rolls-Royce, developing and testing large aircraft engines.
  • Laurie-Ann Marshall works as an Apprentice Circuit Engineer at ABB Ltd, designing electricity sub-station protection and control systems.

The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards aim to find female role models to help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis. Women currently represent only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK (source: 2014 IET Skills Survey), the lowest percentage in Europe. If this trend continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 87,000 new engineers it is estimated the country will need each year over the next decade (according to Engineering UK 2014, the state of engineering).

Michelle Richmond, IET Director of Membership, and a former YWE winner, said: “The lack of women in engineering is a huge problem for this country, contributing to skills shortages which threaten the economy. It also means that women are missing out on interesting and rewarding careers.

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things: from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A-level, through to employers needing to do more to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly.

“It’s also a result of the lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls – which is where our Young Woman Engineer of the Year winners can play a vital role by encouraging and inspiring more young girls to become engineers.”

The winner will be announced at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony on 10 December in central London.  For more information, visit www.theiet.org/ywe.

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

More information on the shortlisted candidates:

Lucy Ackland, Project Manager, Renishaw plc
Lucy is a Project Manager in the Additive Manufacturing Products Division of Renishaw plc, currently working on the next generation of metal 3D printing machines. She holds a first class honours degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from the University of South Wales.

During her day job Lucy co-ordinates a research and development team to achieve new technologies within additive manufacturing. She was seconded to this relatively new Division to help implement a new product development process for a next generation machine that will ensure timescales, quality and customer requirements are met. Her role covers all aspects of design, from product concept to testing and preparation for production.

Lucy started her career in engineering aged just 16 as a mechanical engineering apprentice and has progressed through a variety of roles at Renishaw whilst studying hard to achieve further engineering qualifications on a day release basis.

With a strong passion for engineering, Lucy has always been keen to promote engineering to young people, especially females. Over many years she has run after-school engineering clubs, performed media work for Renishaw, judged STEM club projects, organised and spoken at seminars targeting young people and run hands-on activities for local schools. Lucy is a STEM ambassador, and a director/trustee of Young Engineers, a charity that believes that the best way to encourage young people into engineering is through hands on activities.

In her spare time Lucy enjoys travelling, walking, participating in and watching sports and attending live music events.

Naomi Mitchison, Senior Hardware Engineer, Selex ES
After growing up in Italy, Naomi moved to Edinburgh for university, graduating with an MEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering in 2009. During her degree Naomi worked for Xyratex in Hampshire, designing high-speed test equipment. Here she discovered dual passions for circuit board design and finding new ways to champion STEM careers to local students.

On graduation, Naomi secured a role at Thales in its cyber security department. She started on the Thales graduate scheme, which broadened her industrial experience and business awareness, and allowed her to continue her STEM activities, including taking charge of delivering the Thales stand to the Big Bang Science Fair in 2012.

Having decided to return to Edinburgh, she took a role with Selex ES. Naomi is currently a Senior Hardware Engineer within Selex ES, specialising in laser warning systems for military aircraft.

Here she continues to bring her commitment, imagination and enthusiasm to her ambassadorial role, participating in a broad range of STEM activities such as the Scottish Robotics Games, the Edinburgh Science Festival and career events for local schools and universities. Her imagination and experience teaching children is frequently put to good use to develop new activities and unique ways to engage her audience.

In her current role as Chair of the IET Young Professionals committee for Scotland South East, Naomi is heavily involved in organising local events for students and working engineers, such as technical talks, tours and workshops.

In her spare time she enjoys sports, including skiing, volleyball and hill-walking, and keeps up her international links with frequent travel.

Hannah Pearlman, Cooling System Engineer, Ford Motor Company
Hannah graduated from Warwick University in 2010 with an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering with Automotive.   On graduation, Hannah joined Aston Martin’s Graduate Engineering scheme, designing the cooling systems for the Aston Martin range, and she is now a Chartered Engineer at Ford Motor Company, currently working on the cooling system for the next generation Fiesta.

Hannah is now leading an international team, all dedicated to the design, develop and deployment of a system which meets Ford’s Engineering Standards in respect of performance, timing, quality, weight, safety, recyclability, package and cost.  As a result, one of her most significant but most enjoyable challenges is working within a global team with colleagues based across four continents.

Having benefitted from the example and encouragement of professional engineers engaging in STEM activities when she was at school, Hannah is keen to give back and to encourage more young people to engage in STEM subjects and in particular Automotive Engineering.  As such Hannah dedicates a substantial amount of her personal time to activities as a STEM ambassador, including actively supporting the Smallpeice Trust in their residential engineering taster courses and recently giving a talk to a group of 100 young women about her STEM career.

Within work she has also supported Ford’s sponsorship commitment to the new Essex-based ELUTEC College of Design and Engineering and helped to organise and manage Ford’s activities for National Women in Engineering Day 2014.

Outside of work Hannah enjoys learning foreign languages and travelling, playing Netball, and joining in on friendly “bake-offs” with her colleagues from work.

Jessica Bestwick, Higher Technical Apprentice, Rolls Royce plc
As a Higher Technical Apprentice, every day, Jessica works at the heart of engineering on a range of tasks from future technologies to supporting engines that have been in service for decades. She feels that she is given a vast amount of responsibility by working within civil large engines, involving the creation of engine specifications and testing requirements. On top of this, she is trusted to inspect tested hardware and make choices around the findings to gain engine certification.

Jessica’s next chapter is to progress her educational journey by gaining full BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University. This is after having successfully completed her foundation degree in Integrated Engineering (Mechanical) over the last two years. Following this, she hopes to gain a Masters’ Degree and accreditation with the IET in the near future.

Jessica is a keen STEM ambassador and has been involved with several activities at both primary and high schools across Derbyshire. Through showcasing her work she hopes to inspire the next generation of young engineers, particularly young girls. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, playing the piano and rock climbing as well as travelling to new places.

Laurie-Ann Marshall, Apprentice Circuit Engineer, ABB Ltd
During the first year of A-levels, Laurie-Ann decided that she didn’t want to go to university and instead decided that she would be more suited to an apprenticeship.  She began looking at design apprenticeships and found the electrical design apprenticeship at ABB. As she found renewable energy and power interesting at school, she decided to apply. She was successful and started her four-year apprenticeship with ABB Power Systems.

After working in different areas of the company, she moved into the Secondary Systems (Protection and Control) department. In this department she has developed into a key member of the design team for a large project in London, where she has been involved with producing the detailed design for the protection and control systems.

So far in her apprenticeship she has completed a BTEC level 3 course in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering with full distinctions. She is now starting the second year of her Foundation Degree course in Electrical Engineering and is also working towards her EngTech registration.

For the past two-and-a-half years she has been promoting STEM careers at local schools and careers days to help raise the awareness of what engineering is, and the opportunities that an apprenticeship can provide. Laurie-Ann believes that this is important because she knew very little about what engineering actually was when she began her career, so she is keen to encourage others to consider it as a career.


About the IET:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.