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Student lands scholarship aimed at getting more women into engineering
A Birmingham student is celebrating after landing a £1,000 scholarship aimed at getting more women into science and engineering based professions.
Birmingham City University student Ria Rana has been awarded the funding by Nottinghamshire based firm Meridian Lightweight Technologies UK (MLTUK), the world’s largest producer of magnesium component parts.
The 19-year-old scooped the prize, which will also see her given hands-on work experience at MLTUK, after entering a competition which invited students to write an article outlining the importance of magnesium for the future.
Entrants were then interviewed about their vision for magnesium use by an expert panel made up of Birmingham City University academics and MLTUK chiefs, with Mechanical Engineering student Ria emerging as the winning candidate.
Ria’s submission analysed how the element’s versatile properties made it the ideal material to make valuable contributions to major industries such as aerospace, automotive and the military.
The scholarship was launched in a bid to help tackle the fact that only 11 per cent of the UK’s engineering workforce is female, despite the fact that there is very little difference in the science and maths GCSE grades achieved by male or female pupils.
On being named winner of the scholarship Ria said: “I am so overjoyed and excited to have won this scholarship and to receive the opportunity to work with Meridian Lightweight Technologies UK.
“I would simply love to do go on to work in this industry. It is something I have a passion for, and being a woman in this field gives it even more importance.
“I do feel as though there should be more women working in this industry and I do admire the women that are already there. I want to be one of them so that I can encourage even more women to do the same thing and get involved in STEM subjects.”
Birmingham City University has a long-standing relationship with MLTUK which has seen research carried out into how the material could be used as low-cost alternative for luxury car makers and the aerospace industry.
The money will go towards Ria’s studies, while she will also spend a month on placement at MLTUK’s magnesium die casting foundry in Sutton-in-Ashfield – the UK’s only facility dedicated to magnesium.
The idea for the scholarship was formed after conversations between the University’s Institute for Sustainable Futures and Meridian Lightweight Technologies revealed a shared ambition to increase the number of women going in to engineering based professions.
It is hoped the funding boost alongside valuable work experience will help Ria realise her career ambitions and help inspire more women to follow her into the industry.
Kellie Easton, Human Resources Manager, Meridian Lightweight Technologies, added: “Getting more women into engineering has an important role to play not just in diversifying the industry, but also in ensuring we have the number of skilled workers we need to support the economy.
“We are delighted to be able to provide this scholarship and are very much looking forward to welcoming Ria to our foundry to give her some real insight and hands-on experience.
“Bringing industry and university partners together in this way can play a key role in shaping the skills and experience that we are giving to women hoping to enter the engineering professions.”
The scholarship will also be made available to students for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years, after Meridian decided to provide opportunities for another two female students.
It comes as Birmingham City University prepares to host a number of events encouraging young women to take up active roles in STEM and to prepare them for future careers in science-based industries.
The Summer of STEM will include a Women in Engineering Day giving female school pupils the opportunity to tackle an engineering based challenge, Innovation Festival which showcases new inventions from the University’s students and Birmingham City Engineering Festival which celebrates the city’s links with the industry.
Professor Hanifa Shah Associate Dean for Research and Enterprise at Birmingham City University, concluded: “Getting more women involved in engineering professions is something the whole UK needs to be working towards and we are delighted to be able to give Ria this opportunity.
“We already have a long running relationship with Meridian and the fact that both organisations acknowledge just how important it is to ensure more females are supported into the industry is extremely pleasing.
“Alongside the work we are already doing as a member of Women In Science (WISE) and Engineering hopefully we will continue to play our part on this important issue.”