Inspired by the thrill of a Greenpower Education Trust competition, to design, build and race an electric car at the age of 11, Nicola Jones is studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Plymouth. Nicola is currently on placement as a Junior Project Engineer at Formaplex. The Greenpower Education Trust fuelled her passion for engineering and increased her confidence and skills.
“…everyone has been really friendly and helpful. I just feel like a valued member of the team…”
How it all started
The Greenpower Education Trust ran a competition at my school and I was keen to get involved. The Trust focuses on getting young people interested in engineering and technology. I wasn’t much of a tom boy, but loved building things with Lego and K’Nex.
We worked together as a team of thirty girls to design, build and then race our cars against other schools. We had a great support team of inspiring teachers and technicians. My team were national champions twice and I loved every minute!
The Greenpower competitions were really exciting for me and I think the combination of this and the fact my A-levels (Maths, Physics and Further Maths) were the perfect match for engineering, helped me make the decision to apply for engineering at university.
Through the competitions I also grew more confident and more determined. I learnt how best to work as part of a team and how to be confident doing things like presentations in front of lots of people.
I think having my involvement in Greenpower on my CV when I applied for university and placements really helped me stand out too. The contacts I made at Greenpower also helped me arrange my current work placement.
I am currently on a year long work placement working at Formaplex as a Junior Project Engineer. Part of my university course is to have a year in industry. Formaplex specialises in injection-mould tooling, composite tooling and the manufacture of plastic components. I work on the project management of injection moulding of plastic parts for automotive use.
Facing a male dominated environment in engineering
On my university course there are only eight girls out of 110 students, so I am pretty used to being in this environment. To be honest, I don’t really think about it; both at university and at Formaplex everyone has been really friendly and helpful. I just feel like a valued member of the team. Everyone’s always been really supportive – it’s a great working atmosphere.
Engineering: The rewards
I recently went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and I got such a buzz out of seeing parts that I’d managed in cars that were there. I really felt like I had made a difference. I feel extremely lucky because I really think I’ve found my niche. I think at first I thought I would want to do aerodynamics, but I’m just so happy doing what I’m doing.
Advice to girls or women thinking about a career in engineering?
My best piece of advice would be to just go for it! Be confident in your decisions and enjoy what you do.