Belief in our Human Potential
Science and engineering is the most powerful tool we have to advance humanity, and through innovative research, creativity and scientific collaboration we can save lives, reduce the impact of climate change and build a better, brighter tomorrow.
Before I became a woman in STEM I was a young Benenden girl with a fascination for the world, a curiosity to understand how things work and a desire to make our planet a better place. It’s been 13 years since I traipsed the school halls and I am now a full-time nuclear engineer, a start-up founder and a business owner.
I work full-time as a graduate nuclear risk and safety consultant at Arcadis. Being a consultant gives me the flexibility to work on a variety of nuclear projects throughout the UK. Right now I am based at EDF in Bristol as an assistant project manager, supporting the construction of Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant. Hinkley Point C is the largest and most complex construction project in Europe. £20 billion spend, 25k people and over 100 suppliers, extreme precision is required to deliver this mammoth project. I sit within the electrical equipment team and am responsible for overseeing the design, procurement, manufacture, installation and commissioning of vital electrical equipment. I also manage any non-conformities in the manufacturing and make sure they are dealt with swiftly by specialist teams.
In my free time, I run my deeptech start-up and research project called Sub-R. Sub-R is a tri-continental project launched in 2019 with two close friends, one based at the University of Florida and the other at the Japan Atomic Agency. Sub-R is a low-carbon, electricity delivering submarine that provides emergency electricity after natural disasters. We are developing a novel, advanced molten salt reactor as the power source and aim to be both safe and produce minimal waste. With 75% of humans projected to live by the coast by 2025 and the number of natural disasters increasing year on year, an effective, zero-carbon solution is urgently needed for rapid deployment to disaster zones. This start-up has the support of the French Commission for Atomic Energy (CEA) and the prestigious L’École Polytechnique University in Paris, and they sit in the team as official advisors.
From leaving Benenden to today, I have taken quite an unconventional path, at 19 I took a detour working as a professional DJ and, on the side of my day job, I am currently a pizza chef and pizza restaurant owner (www.gourmetpizzaco.com). There is no one type of person or one set path you have to take to be a woman in STEM. One of my biggest inspirations is marine biologist and inventor of the aquarium Jeanne Villepreux-Power who, as well as being an expert on molluscs, was also a celebrity designer and dressmaker for royalty.
Working in STEM is about being creative, thinking outside the box and being able to dream of something bigger than yourself. It’s driven by a wonder and joy for life itself and the belief in our human potential.
Moving at a Faster Pace
The tech industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, it’s used everywhere by almost everyone at some point in their day. From the moment you get up in the morning, looking at your phone, putting on your smartwatch and making your first cup of coffee. It’s everywhere.
One area of the industry that’s most in demand at the moment is cloud technology. It essentially allows individuals and companies to host and share information from anywhere instead of having to save anything onto your laptop, CD-ROM or USB stick. Popular companies that use cloud technologies are the likes of Google (with Google Drive and Google Calendar to name a few products), Netflix, Amazon and so many more. Most people will even go through the day not realising that they’re interacting with the Cloud in some aspect whether it’s checking their bank accounts on their phone, watching tv or even just checking their social media accounts.
The company I work for is called Citrix, and part of what we do is use cloud technology to deliver desktops and applications to companies and their employees. We’re a global company with offices in the US, Europe and Asia. Our products range from virtualised desktops to networking to cloud computing. By using the Citrix cloud products, companies are able to let their employees work anywhere at any time if needed, and it’s also much easier to scale up as their business expands.
Previously we would release products on CDs which companies would then buy and have to set up themselves. Now, however, it is much easier for companies to on-board onto our products, and we’re able to provide support for them much more easily. My role within the company is different from what people think of when they hear about a software company. In my day to day work I’m responsible for supporting engineers, maintaining a portion of the company’s digital assets including the source code for our products and helping to release it to customers.
With the world now moving at a faster pace, technology companies are always looking to predict what the consumers will be wanting next and, as a result, it’s always changing very rapidly. At university I studied Computer Science and Cybernetics with a year out in industry working for Citrix. This experience opened my eyes to just how quickly technology and the world we live in are evolving. As a lecturer told me in my first class at university, “... 50 per cent of what you learn in your first year will probably be out of date by your final year” and she was not wrong!