Stacey Marple is a project manager at Monitor Coatings in Newcastle. She works on projects to create and apply surface coatings, and she is currently managing the new Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Air Carriers Flight Deck Coating project, which allows jets to land vertically. Stacey studied for a B.Eng (Hons) in Aerospace Systems Engineering at the University of Coventry.
“…the best advice I have been given for success is to stop comparing myself to others, particularly men. The most essential thing is to concentrate on you, your team and your products…”
Following in my granddad’s footsteps to become an engineer
My engineering career launched when I won a Royal Air Force (RAF) bursary to study Aerospace Engineering at Coventry University. As a bursar student, I was committed to my studies but also to a career in the RAF as an Aerosystem Engineering Officer. When I graduated from university I attended Initial Officer and Engineering Training. These courses gave me the required managerial and technical competencies to operate as a military commander, professional engineer and technical manager.
I served as a Royal Air Force Engineering officer for eight years, operating in Afghanistan as Junior Engineering Officer on Chinook helicopters and also on a project managing a £59 million procurement project for Ministry of Defence.
Since leaving the military, I have worked on numerous high-profile engineering projects for example Airbus A320 new engine option. I have worked at Tharsus Vision, the UK’s number one designer and manufacturer of autonomous systems, as a Product Project Manager. That involved taking products from inception through to manufacture.
I currently work at Monitor Coatings developing new project leads and managing projects which create and apply surface engineering in extreme environments.
I was inspired to be an engineer by my grandad – he was an engineer in the Royal Air Force serving in 109 Maintenance Unit at RAF Abyad, Suez Canal. He always used to talk fondly about his service, the skills he learnt and about how engineers contribute so much to society. Engineers definitely contribute a lot to society, our creativity and innovation helps keep us safe, drives the economy and supports our modern lifestyles.
My role at Monitor Coatings
My daily work at Monitor Coatings can be quite varied. I might be meeting with a customer to investigate new business opportunities, I could be communicating new product developments to clients or managing projects from marketing, project scope through to product deployment to the customer. Every day is different and that can be challenging but it is worth it.
I am currently part of the Monitor Coatings project team working on a project to coat the flight deck of the Royal Navy’s new Aircraft Carriers, the largest ever built for the Navy, which are capable of carrying up to forty aircraft. The ship is designed to operate the vertical and / or short take-off landing aircraft the F-35B. When the powerful F-35B engines are directed downwards onto the deck during a vertical landing, the gas wash of the engines would have damaged a traditional flight deck paint system.
The most rewarding part of my job is when you see the final product being delivered to the happy customer. It makes all the challenges we encounter with a new product worth the effort.
Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day
On 23rd June, which is International Women in Engineering Day, I will be chatting with school students about engineering as part of an outreach challenge called I’m an Engineer, Get me out me out of here. The challenge is a free online event where school students meet and interact with engineers. It’s an X Factor-style competition between engineers, where the students are the judges. Hopefully I can bust some myths about Women in Engineering and inspire a new generation of engineers. If I win, I am going to spend the £500 on sponsoring an outreach event with Tech for Life in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Volunteering with Stemettes
Only 9% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female, I volunteer at Stemettes to shows the next generation that girls do science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). This is done through free, fun, interactive experiences with the aim of inspiring and supporting young women into STEM careers.
I volunteer my time and expertise to run events and experiences like panel events which show young women that amazing women work in STEM careers. I also volunteer for Tech for Life in Newcastle, which aims to introduce people of all ages, skill-sets and backgrounds to the fundamentals of computer programming, digital skills and STEM, breaking down barriers and providing opportunities for all.
I recently spoke at their panel event called Leading Ladies in STEM about my career and I am involved in their new mentoring and training programme called Leading Ladies for Life.
Stop comparing yourself to others, particularly men
Engineering is a male dominated sector and the best advice I have been given for success is to stop comparing myself to others, particularly men. The most essential thing is to concentrate on you, your team and your products. By doing that you will set yourself apart from others and it will help you shine in your career.
Striving to inspire the next generation of engineers
In the future, I will be concentrating on helping Monitor Coatings to continue to innovate and lead the market in Surface Engineering. I do not know what the next project will be, but I know it will be technologically advanced and challenging. I will continue to volunteer my time to strive to inspire the next generation of engineers.
HMS Queen Elizabeth image credit: By Ministry of Defence [OGL 2 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/2)], via Wikimedia Commons