Frida Nzaba

Manufacturing Engineer, Rolls-Royce

How I came to STEM

It was in the middle of year 10 that I realised I genuinely loved engineering. I enjoyed learning about the different machining processes such as turning and milling and I was able to apply some of these techniques to manufacture my coursework. I remember engineering was one of the subjects I always looked forward to because it was fun, practical and contained maths and physics in a way that actually made sense to me. Through my passion and hard work in engineering, I won Outstanding BTEC Engineering Student in 2013.

In year 11, my engineering teacher advertised the amazing opportunities available in Rolls Royce including apprenticeships, which were rarely encouraged in my school.

Initially, an apprenticeship was not seen as an option; my older sister went to university, so it was my parents’ view that I ought to follow the ‘traditional route’ to higher education. However, after further research into future prospects of the apprenticeship scheme, we realised it was the best option because it enabled me to complete a degree whilst gaining industrial work experience.

I knew that in order to become a chartered engineer I needed to have at least four years of work experience and undertaking an apprenticeship allows me to build some of that experience.

Furthermore, in terms of direct experience, it would put me ahead of my peers at university and eliminate the need for a student loan. Being an apprentice provided me with the flexibility to: move around the different departments, undertake various technical and practical projects within Rolls Royce and develop a professional network whilst improving my confidence.

Why I love what I do

Currently I work as an Overhaul Manufacturing Engineer in Rolls-Royce based in Derby. This role consists of developing and implementing methods that can be used to strip and assemble the engine in a timely and safe manner. I am directly supporting the shop floor and resolving any technical issues that arise, while continuously improving our processes and the way we work.

The main thing I enjoy is the fact that I can go into work and see various jet engines being stripped and assembled ready to dispatch to the customer; I think about where these jets end up, and it is just mind-blowing!

What excites me about my job is being able to identify a problem or an improvement idea and having the support from the team and stakeholders to resolve it in a timely manner.

I’m able to review repair, build and strip instructions on my laptop and if I don’t understand anything, I can go right down to the shop floor and review the physical component to clarify any questions I may have with the fitters and inspectors on the shop floor.

The workplace is filled with so many diverse thinkers. I love being able to learn methods of how to approach a situation in a different way. As most people who know me will know, I enjoy the fact that the team I am in feels like a small family because we always have each other’s best interests in mind and help wherever possible. Being an engineer in such an environment certainly does help you excel because your learning curve increases exponentially, especially as you continue dealing with people from other functions within the company.

What I’m proud of, & what I’m hoping to achieve through the WYPB

I am proud to contribute the WISE YPB by informing and advising the WISE campaign about how to strategically tackle and break down barriers of apprenticeship stereotypes.

This has involved how to change attitudes of parents and teachers with regards to pushing STEM, because they have a strong influence on the upcoming generations.

Having completed a Higher Apprenticeship and aiming to study  a Masters, I’m able to offer fresh ideas of how we can influence both academic and practical students and how we can engage more schools.

Furthermore, being a Rolls Royce & Nottinghamshire STEM ambassador, promoting diversity and inclusion in Rolls Royce and an active WISE member I am able to share my experiences and confidently deliver engaging presentations.

I am looking forward to continuing to lead the WISE YPB project team to successfully complete the project set to us by WISE and Harper Collins on producing resources for their Tara Binns Books. This has been an amazing WYPB project aimed at primary-age girls to encourage them into STEM careers by providing narratives and role models that show that STEM is for girls!

This has been an exciting experience for me over the past year and has enabled me to accumulate so many skills that will assist me in becoming a Manufacturing Engineering Manager.

I love that being a part of the board develops me both personally and professionally and provides me with fresh challenges.


Posts, Projects & Events

  • Keynote Speaker: D&T Excellence Awards 2020
  • Blog: Unleashing your skills for the world of STEM
  • Association for BME Engineers (AFBE) Making Engineering Hot Career Day – Where I shared my personal journey through my apprenticeship with the students. This was held in London on 27th June 2019. The theme was “Apprenticeships and Higher Education” for Year 9 to 13 students. Pictures from the event – via LinkedIn Post
  • Careers in Engineering panel session hosted by Loughborough University on 10/05/19. I was a panellist speaking about careers in Manufacturing. Event details
  • Project (WYPB): WISE Essay Competition 2018
  • Project (WYPB): Tara Binns series accompaniments for Harper Collins
  • Project (WYPB): Negotiation Skills session at WISE Conference 2019
  • Project (WYPB): Male-Allies for International Women’s Day
« Back to WYPB Team Page