Girls in STEM careers: Nothing is impossible
Najwa Jawahar MEng, BEng CEng MIStructE, is a senior structural engineer at WSP – which provides a range of services from building high-rise property to mining precious metals. Here, she reviews the Rocking Ur Teens event which took place earlier this year in a bid to inspire young girls to pursue careers in STEM industries – and boost pupils' confidence.
Nothing Is Impossible
I am a chartered structural engineer and specialise in the design of tall buildings. I joined WSP, a global design consultant in the built environment as a graduate engineer and have now been in the industry for over 7.5 years. I believe nothing is impossible and all you need to do is truly believe in your dreams. I am a huge advocate of inspiring, educating and mentoring the next generation. For this reason, when Sandy Parris from Rocking Ur Teens approached me in 2017, I couldn’t say no. Since then I have been supporting the event and absolutely enjoy being part of their journey.
“What if there were no engineers?” is the question I ask the girls. What if there was no clean water, nowhere to sleep, no school to go to, no mobile phone, no hospitals, roads. Everything around us is engineered in some way or form. Without engineers, life would be very different from how we see it today. I let the girls imagine their own life without the facilities they have around. The reactions are amazing.
In May, Rocking Ur Teens hit Manchester for the first time, to inspire, excite and educate our teens. I looked forward to the conference myself because it brings together so many role models under one roof and empowers them with fun.
Careers engagement with added fun
As a speaker, I shared my story, I shared what I do and how I chose my career path. Believe it or not, I used the method of elimination. I decided what I didn’t want to do and ended up being a Structural Design Engineer. I shared that you don’t necessarily have to be an engineer to work in an engineering firm and you don’t need to have done mathematics and physics to make a difference to the world around you.
But in engineering, you don’t just talk. You build. So, I got the girls to construct their own towers using spaghetti and marshmallows – a challenge to either engineer the tallest structure or the longest structure. I received fantastic responses. Within the groups in action, I saw leaders, I saw the team working, I saw creativity and innovation, and above all, I saw huge smiles.
I genuinely believe in the vision of Rocking Ur Teens and the impact it is having on the future generations. It’s an excellent platform to empower teenagers in a fun way.
For more information on the careers opportunities promoted by Rocking Ur Teens, see rockingurteens.com