Emma Wilding is a Vehicle Safety Engineer (Degree Apprentice) at Jaguar Land Rover who has been shortlisted for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards 2016. She crashes cars for a living, testing the latest car safety features. Emma studied for a foundation degree at Coventry University before going on to start her Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Warwick.
“…I have found that in many cases something that is covered at university or college one week would be applied directly into my workplace the next. This helped to cement my knowledge and understanding…”
Learning how things work
I work within Vehicle Safety, which involves crash testing vehicles. I have always been interested in how things work and after completing work experience at Jaguar Land Rover when I was 14, working within the automotive industry really excited me.
Crashing cars to make them safer
My role can vary depending on the stage of a programme. Currently I am going through a crash phase with the vehicle I am responsible for. This means I will spend some of the morning in the workshop ensuring the vehicles that will be crashed are correctly prepped and are ready to test on time. I will also analyse the data from previous crash tests. Throughout the day I will be ensuring everything is in place to ensure the programme runs as smoothly as possible.
There have been many advances in technology that have enabled car safety to improve, such as autonomous emergency braking, for example. This has been developed to help prevent vehicle collisions, and has now been developed to detect pedestrians as well.
Strong foundations to better understand the automotive industry
Studying a foundation degree gave me a really good grounding in slightly more specialised automotive subjects. During my foundation degree I studied subjects looking at the different systems within a vehicle, which had not been covered during my A-levels.
I also completed modules like CAD (computer aided design). This is how vehicles are initially designed and having this grounding has been key to understanding design stages within the company. This foundation degree gave me the basis that has enabled me to have greater understanding of the automotive industry.
Hands on experience and applying practical knowledge
I have found that I am able to understand and learn something to much greater detail if I can practically do it, or know examples where it can be applied. For me, being able to combine the practical and academic learning has been vital to have a greater understanding of all topics that are covered.
I have found that in many cases something that is covered at university or college one week would be applied directly into my workplace the next. This helped to cement my knowledge and understanding.
Diversity helps to find better solutions
Within engineering it is really important to have diverse teams to enable better engineering solutions found. Sometimes in engineering thinking outside the box is essential, so having as diverse a team as possible enables this. Having a gender balance enables a problem to be approached differently, as women can bring a different perspective to a task which can help in finding a better overall engineering solution.
We want to convince all young people – boys and girls – what a brilliant, inspiring, creative and diverse career engineering can be! pic.twitter.com/Va2bARD1A1
— Jaguar Land Rover (@JLRPR) 7 October 2016
Being shortlisted for the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards 2016
Being shortlisted for IET Young Women Engineer Awards is an absolute honour. Being a woman in engineering we are in the minority but I am passionate about promoting women in engineering. I love breaking down the stereotypes and IET YWE is a great platform to show that women can be engineers and can be great at it!
I am looking forward to completing my apprenticeship at Jaguar Land Rover, which will include completing my degree. I am hoping that I can progress within the company. Working at Jaguar Land Rover is an exciting place with new products always being designed and developed. The company is also expanding so it is a really exciting time to be part of it.
Women make up just 9% of the engineering workforce so to help inspire the next generation of female engineers and to raise awareness of the Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards, the IET has launched a new social media campaign, asking individuals to raise their hand if they too think that #9PercentIsNotEnough. To get involved all you need to do is share a picture with ‘9%’ on your hand, using the hashtag #9PercentIsNotEnough, so that we help to highlight that engineering is a realistic career aspiration for girls.