Girls into Electronics: inspiring secondary students with electronics

Posted on 16 Sep 2022 by The Manufacturer

The UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF) has delivered a series of 10 Girls into Electronics events aimed at providing girls between the ages of 15-18 with a unique opportunity to develop an interest in Electronics.

Attended by 230 girls, the events took place in Spring/Summer 2022 and were hosted by leading universities throughout the UK, with support from the CSA Catapult.

The UK Electronics industry is a world leader and there is a significant skills shortage. This means that there are too few engineers and designers to develop the next generation of products and help produce the creative technological solutions needed by society.

The Equality, diversity and student characteristics data 2022 from the Office for Students1 found that just 17.9% of engineering, technology and computing undergraduate entrants were female. In 2021, UCAS data2 showed that as few as 335 female students started Electrical & Electronics Engineering degree courses in the UK.

Girls into Electronics to provided an opportunity to engage and inspire young people with electronics.

The participants were given an indepth insight into what it would be like to pursue higher education and a career in electronics. They were given the opportunity to:

  • Attend a sample undergraduate lecture from a senior academic
  • Hear from current female students about their experiences
  • Tour the university department and see research facilities
  • Learn about working the sector by hearing from UKESF Scholars
  • Take part in a ‘hands on’ introduction session to learn about microcontrollers.

The events received fantastic feedback, with 97% of participants rating the day as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ and 89% saying that they felt more enthused about electronics after attending.

Perhaps most importantly, 84% of students who were not previously considering a career in electronics, now are.

Speaking about the initiative, Stewart Edmondson, CEO, UKESF, said: “Support for Girls into Electronics this year has been amazing. We’ve taken a massive step, with 230 girls participating at events hosted by 10 of our partner universities. Generating enthusiasm for Electronics among young people is central to our work at the UKESF, we want to do even more in future years.”

Clare Gunning, HR Director, CSA Catapult, said: “It’s great to get such fantastic feedback from attendees. CSA Catapult is so proud to have sponsored UKESF’s Girls into Electronics Programme. The skills shortage in engineering has the potential to impede the UK’s growth as a world leader, and we want to build greater diversity within our sector and have a positive impact. We’re very proud to be part of the future workforce’s pathway into electronics.”

Following the event, the participants received a number of additional resources to ensure they could continue to develop their interest in Electronics, as well as make the most of the Grove beginner kit for Arduino that they were given to take home. The UKESF is also working with CSA Catapult to provide participants with the opportunity to attend a careers focused session at the CSA Catapult Innovation Centre in Newport in Autumn 2022.

Participant feedback included:

  • “The course was so insightful and made me consider a sector which I hadn’t necessarily thought about before. It was amazing talking to so many inspirational women in Electronic Engineering”
  • “Seeing all the possibilities of what you could do during an EEE degree seemed to spark that sense of awe that a child would feel walking through a huge toy shop for the first time in me.”
  • “As someone who’s finding it difficult to decide between engineering disciplines, today was extremely helpful in making me aware of the similarities and differences between them so that I can make an informed choice.”

In 2023, the UKESF will aim to scale up even further, building on this year’s successful approach. If you’re interested in finding out more about the programme, or would like to register your interest in participating next Summer, get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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