Encouraging Women into Engineering Should be a Top Priority
The number of female engineers in the UK is rising. In a recent nationwide WISE study, the percentage of women in engineering has risen from 9% in 2015 to 12% in 2018. Although there has been steady progress made, we want to improve this growth and encourage more women to consider a role in engineering and add their skills into the industry, along with exposing the career paths for existing female engineers to allow them to have a greater role in the sector.
At Vital, we are above industry average with 18% of our workforce being female, increasing from 15% in 2017, and we are optimistic that this will continue to grow. Increasing engagement and exposure to the engineering industry by displaying the exciting opportunities available in the sector is key to achieving this.
Paul Kay, Building Services and Design Director, explains, “The opportunities in the engineering industry go far beyond the perception of simply wearing overalls and getting dirty on a site. Engineering is about tapping into your creativity to shape the future of renewable technologies, and discovering solutions for issues that we may not even know exist yet.”
Engineering offers the opportunity to be involved with innovations and schemes that have the potential to change the norm. Take Mária Telkes, for example, who, along with numerous other notable achievements, worked with architect Eleanor Raymond to create the first solar-heated house in 1948, paving the way for the solar panels we commonly see today. An innovation that has greatly assisted in the growth of the renewable energy market.
In order for the industry to continue to grow and develop, a collaboration of male and female engineers is needed. Each different person can bring their own ideas and unique skillset to explore methods beyond what is currently thought possible to constantly improve everything around us.
The roles available in the engineering sector include job titles such as Design Engineer, Quality Assurance Engineer, Project Engineer, Electrical Engineer, CAD Engineer, Planning Engineer, Energy Optimisation Engineer…the list goes on - and these are just the types of roles fulfilled here at Vital, the wider industry has even more on offer. Each of these jobs fulfil different duties including designing, assessing, managing, monitoring, operating, maintaining, and planning engineering innovations, so there is little room to be bored.
And there are so many ways to enter the industry. Be it through Graduate Schemes, placements and internships, apprenticeships, or studying part-time for your university degree whilst working fulltime within the sector, there’s an option to suit all.
But, why engineering?
Graduate Design Engineer, Lucinda Walker Tully, explains, “A career in engineering is good as there is such a wide range of opportunities within the industry that you are sure to be able to find something that you enjoy. Working on projects which produce a tangible outcome also brings a high sense of satisfaction. There is always something new to learn and technology is always advancing which makes it an exciting sector to be a part of.” Read her story by clicking here.
Emma Holden, Graduate Design Engineer, adds, “I enjoy the variety of different projects that I have the opportunity to work on as nothing is ever the same which keeps it interesting and lets me learn new things every day. I’d encourage a career in engineering because it is a very relevant and important industry to be a part of, especially given the current situation regarding climate change. You get to design, build and influence projects that have positive impacts for clients, customers and the environment.” Read her story by clicking here.
At Vital, we want to take that step further, as it is not enough to just tell someone that engineering could be for them, we need to show them. Over the coming months, we will be bringing our female colleagues together to take students behind the scenes of our energy schemes and head office to allow them to learn more about the work that goes into our projects and how the equipment operates, to help shape future careers.
We endeavour to engage and educate local students on our projects to show them the creativity that goes into engineering, such as offering work placements and apprenticeship opportunities on many of our projects including the University of Strathclyde and the Leeds PIPES Network.
Engagement can happen at any age. Even giving primary school students a taster into the world of engineering can raise young people’s interest in STEM subjects and be beneficial when later encouraging a career in the industry. We’ve found that opening the doors of our energy centres and giving tours to a range of ages is the most effective, which is why we regularly invite guests to our sites across the country such as the biomass scheme at the University of St Andrews and the two CHP energy centres at the University of Liverpool.
Encouraging more women into engineering should be a top priority to help raise the profile of the industry, grow the skillset, and potentially change someone’s future. But, being open-minded to the possibility of becoming an engineer is the first step to unlock your potential and maybe even spark a career passion that you didn’t know was there. Seizing every opportunity is the second, so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
International Women in Engineering Day 2019: Meet Lucinda Walker-Tully
Lucinda Walker-Tully is currently completing the 3 year Graduate Scheme as a Graduate Design Engineer in our London team which will see her complete modules in all areas of the business before deciding on her final career path. Here’s her story…
“I always enjoyed STEM subjects at school and had a passion for the environment, so I chose to study Energy Engineering at university. I completed a placement year in industry working within rail and building services before joining Vital almost a year and a half ago. For the first 9 months of my time with Vital, I was working on site as a Project Engineer before moving into the Design department where I am currently based.
“I am involved with producing a number of different calculations for projects, such as load or pump sizing using software such as EPro and AutoCAD. I have been heavily involved with the creation of a new water treatment specification which has been interesting and rewarding.
“I enjoy my role as I like to put theories and information I learnt at university into practice for real world scenarios, and I get to be involved with projects that produce tangible end results which often improve a local area.
“A career in engineering is good as there is such a wide range of opportunities within the industry that you are sure to be able to find something that you enjoy. Working on projects which produce a tangible outcome also brings a high sense of satisfaction. There is always something new to learn and technology is always advancing which makes it an exciting sector to be a part of.
“To those deciding upon their career, I would advise that you choose subjects that you enjoy and challenge you, and keep an open mind to opportunities – when I was at school, I didn’t know half the jobs I would later come across even existed! Seek varied advice from your peers and seniors, especially those who have gone down a similar route to one you may be pursuing. My placement year was invaluable so make sure you take any opportunity for experience, even if for nothing other than to find out what you don’t like.”
International Women in Engineering Day 2019: Meet Megan Owen
Megan Owen joined our 3 year Graduate Scheme in 2018 as a Graduate Project Engineer, and is completing modules within all areas of the business such as Design, Project Engineering, Planning, Operation & Maintenance and Surveying. Here’s her story…
“I graduated in Energy Engineering in 2017 having spent 3 years studying at university and a year working in the rail sector. I moved to London after graduating and worked in Building Services for a year before joining the Vital Graduate Scheme.
“I am currently managing the installation of the mechanical services in the Sales and Marketing Suite and I enjoy my role as I get to work with a multitude of employees from various disciplines, including specialist sub-contractors, clients, and other trades.
“I would encourage a career in engineering because it offers a wide range of working environments, from site-based roles to office-based roles, and any role you choose will offer up stimulating new challenges every day.
“My advice to other women choosing a career would be: being underestimated will only provide more opportunities for you to exceed people’s expectations.”
05.04.19 by Katie.Addison
| New build residential / mixed use
Kitting Out Redrow's Energy Centre
Construction is progressing well at Redrow’s Padcroft site, following the delivery and installation of major plant and equipment within the energy centre. The development, which spans a two-and-a-half acre site, is the house builder’s latest project in London’s West Drayton, and comprises a collection of 308 one, two, and three-bedroom luxury apartments.
The scheme saw the delivery of its 90kW CHP engine, two 750kw gas boilers, two 5,000 litre thermal store, expansion vessels, low-temperature hot water and boosted cold-water skids, water softener, gas booster, vacuum degasser and chlorine unit over a period of two days. Delivery of all the equipment was scheduled to take place together due to the spatial restrictions of the site and the construction programme.
The site posed challenges due to restricted space and a number of vehicles entering and exiting with only one entrance and exit, therefore we had to create a schedule that would cause minimal disruption to other onsite work. To ensure deliveries are kept to a minimum, we employed a 3rd party plant movement company who took delivery of all plant and equipment through nine separate deliveries. They then delivered the plant to site over two days which eliminated the need for singular deliveries from each manufacturer and reduced the number of deliveries to two. This minimised the number of vehicles needed and therefore assisted in the ease of the deliveries.
As the energy centre plant room is located inside one of the apartment blocks, there was limited area to manoeuvre the equipment requiring a solution to maximise the available space. We tailored our schedule around the development’s construction schedule to allow for an area, which will eventually become an apartment, to be utilised as a temporary entrance to the energy centre before being transformed into a property. This provided the necessary room for the plant to be moved into position, taking additional care due to the energy centre residing approximately 1.5m below ground level.
Billy King, Project Manager at Vital Energi, explains, “The decision to have all the major plant delivered together was taken in order to ensure an effective and efficient installation. Co-ordinating our schedule closely with the client’s logistic team and other onsite workers ensured a smooth implementation.
“The next part of the project will see all the energy centre plant pipework manufactured and connected, and low temperature hot water risers and laterals, with boosted cold-water services to all floors, installed into the remaining six apartment blocks. Additionally, district heating and gas installations and connections are to be completed, with work expected to finish early next year.”
We began working on the £2.6m energy scheme in 2018 which will provide the spatial heating and domestic hot water for a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom apartments when completed.
Medi Rampal has recently joined the Vital team as Head of Customer Engagement to develop and maintain customer relationships in the Southern division of Vital.
After spending the last 12 years working within the energy sector, his new will see Medi work collaboratively with cross-functional teams in Vital, and supply chain partners, to provide great customer satisfaction.
During his career, Medi has had experience developing customer value propositions, and developing and delivering major energy infrastructure projects. Having worked for major energy companies, Medi has developed skills in both customer relationship management and developing and executing strategy for the delivery of district heating networks.
Medi comments, “I am very excited and privileged to be working for Vital Energi. My aim is to ensure that we continue to lead, and set best practice examples, in the design and delivery of optimised low carbon infrastructure projects that provide a great customer experience, and create successful long-term partnerships.”
After the successful delivery of the prefabricated temporary energy centre at the Barking Riverside development in London, we have been busy completing internal infrastructure installations within the apartment blocks that are under construction.
Vital have been involved with the development’s energy scheme since 2016 when we first begun designing the district heating network to grow alongside the site. Our solution has seen us connect the apartment blocks to the temporary energy centre as they are constructed in what will eventually be a unique 5.2km weather compensated district heating network.
Our most recent scope of works has required the installation of the riser and lateral pipework and associated supports into a range of blocks across the development, along with an intensive testing process to ensure the quality of our work. Challenges were faced due to third party work taking place simultaneously to our installation which required careful coordination and communication to overcome. It was necessary to benchmark our planning and delivery processes in order to create a similar practice to other onsite workers and complete a successful collaborative installation.
Dean Walsh, Vital Energi Contracts Manager, explains, “It is common practice for us to complete our installations alongside other ongoing works, especially on a site of this size, and therefore we have the experience necessary to efficiently coordinate our work in line with third party requirements. The success of our internal installations so far have led to an additional contract on a further block which we are currently completing.
“With the development yet to benefit from our bespoke heat interface unit designed specifically for the project, we are excited to see the rest of the scheme grow and to provide the main energy centre which will come online in 2021.”
Matthew Carpen, Managing Director at Barking Riverside Limited, added, “It is great to see the first part of the district heating network operational and ready to provide heat for our new residents this spring as we look forward to working with Vital Energy and the L&Q Energy Ltd team to roll out the network across future phases of the development.”
Barking Riverside is one the UK’s largest housing projects being delivered across 443 acres. Delivered through a joint venture between L&Q and the GLA, it will create a new district the sise of Windsor on the banks of the river Thames. The project will deliver 10,800 homes, 65,000 sq m of commercial, retail and leisure space, a London Overground station, cycling and walking networks, seven schools of which four have already been delivered.
We have tailored the delivery of the scheme to suit the site’s requirements, resulting in multiple smaller projects that are installed alongside the growth of the development.