Bethan Wilkinson: From Design and Technology to Civil Engineering
Edinburgh University student Bethan Wilkinson won the 2018 Design and Technology Student Award, and we were lucky enough to catch up with her at the ceremony.
There are many routes into a career in technology and engineering. For me, taking Design and Technology at A Level has been instrumental in my career choices. D&T was a subject that pushed me to make and fully justify my own decisions rather sitting passively in a classroom, which is a skill that I have found essential in the first year of my Civil Engineering degree.
When I was 16, my technology teacher suggested I apply for the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship. Firstly, I had to go home and Google what engineering was. There are many misconceptions about what being an engineer means, and it took a great deal of research for me to overcome them, but what’s not to love? Engineering presents a chance to work on monumental and daring projects that will affect hundreds of people’s daily lives and have an impact for many years to come. I was awarded the Arkwright Scholarship in 2015 which was sponsored by the University of Edinburgh, and a flood of opportunities have followed since.
As I learnt more about a potential career as an engineer, I found my interests focussing towards Civil Engineering. I used the scholarship to travel to CERN, Geneva where I was fascinated by the scale of the underground tunnel system. My research for my A Levels, as well as the report I wrote for the Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW) Student of the Year Award, developed my fascination for structures. By choosing to study D&T, I have gradually developed the confidence to pursue an engineering career and have been fortunate enough to work on projects with local companies and STEM organisations. I have also learnt the importance of communicating ideas not only through calculations, but through sketches, computer designs and models.
I strongly believe studying STEM in 2018 is one of the most exciting careers available. There is currently a drive in the UK towards creating a diverse and engaging environment in science and technology, and there are many great organisations pushing STEM forwards. You need look no further than the Engineering UK report, “The State of Engineering”, to see some of the obstacles facing girls in pursuing STEM. The statistics are against us, but they are being challenged year on year, and tackling them in education from a young age is the place to start.
The D&T association have resources online for students, staff and professionals looking to develop their design or technology skills. Their annual excellence awards are a brilliant way to celebrate creativity and engineering talent.