Case Study: Enass Abo-Hamed
“One of the things I find fascinating about engineering is that the greatest inventions of our lifetime are engineering inventions and they all come to solve a problem.”
Raising awareness of climate change
Originally from Palestine, Enass grew up watching her father, who was a mechanical engineer, building things and putting things together.
“ That was something that always intrigue me: the thinking process and the action that comes after that, which engineering really revolves around.”
This really impacted on her and the way she tackles challenges no matter how small or large: from starting her own company or being a passionate advocate in raising awareness of climate change.
It about bring the problem to many people whilst we are working on the solution. That’s where my activism comes from. […] Climate change is a very interconnected problem with others such as air pollution or food waste […] it’s everyone’s problem … everyone should know about it!
Storing hydrogen to produce energy
When Enass was doing her PhD at Cambridge University she invented an imaginative way to capture and store hydrogen safety, as a clean source of energy.
“Hydrogen is unique: very small, it doesn’t have any carbon; when you burn it you’re not generating emissions (carbon footprint). It’s a very elegant molecule with a very elegant solution that doesn’t emit pollutants. That can solve many of our energy problems…”
It took Enass a lot of hard-work to start her own company, H2GO Power, which stores hydrogen as part of a chemical reaction. The gas can be converted into solid state or liquid state. When the hydrogen in needed, it is released in a clean form (zero emissions) and in a controlled manner. This is an efficient, low cost, highly safe way to store hydrogen!
“I think hydrogen is the past, the present and the future. It was there at the very beginning and I bet it will be there in the future […] it’s a very central player into contributing to solve climate change…”
Energy is still a luxury for some …
A trip to Africa made Enass realised that sometimes energy cannot be taken for granted:
“There are 1.2 billion people around the world who do not have control over the switch! Africa has 600 million people who don’t have regular access to power. It shouldn’t be a problem that we have today with the technologies and resources we have around the world. There is an injustice to that, that bothers me personally, and If I have an ability to contribute to the solution, I should!”
More funding needed
According to Enass more funding should be available for entrepreneurs just like her to develop their own ideas. She believes in the power of working collaboratively and would like to see companies and government working together more closely to tackle climate change.
If there would be one thing I could change I would use more engineering to accelerate progress towards tackling climate change (…) we are working at slower pace than we should be.
Enass has won several awards for her activist including the Top 100 BAME leaders in UK Tech and Top 100 influential Women in Engineering in the UK and Europe by the Financial Times. You can watch her talking about climate change and her company below.
Case Study: Sophie Robinson
“One of the good things about engineering is that there are a lot of opportunities where you can use your skillset to make a difference, and make a difference in lots of different fields as well!”
Sophie grew up in a working class family from a mining village in the North of England. As a child, she remembers wanted to be an astronaut and being fascinated with Lego (she claims to have had the equivalent of her body weight in Lego!) and Meccano. Her parents encouraged her to go to university: they saw it as a good route to a professional job. Sophie recalls:
“When I was young I was always really into maths and science. I would have done a pure maths degree but there was something always nagging in the back of my mind […] I always wanted something more practical.”
With this combination of academic interests and practicality, she thinks engineering became an “inevitable” career path.
After she finished a PhD in flight mechanics from the University of Liverpool, Sophie got involved in many projects as an aerospace engineer. It’s a job she describes as being involved in the whole lifecycle of anything that flies: design, certification, operation, maintenance and safe disposal (decommissioning).
Sophie’s currently a senior flight dynamics engineer at Vertical Aerospace, a company working on creating the world’s first commercial eVTOL aircraft – electric vertical take-off and landing. It’s planned as an air taxi, to transport people and goods on short journeys.
Vertical’s aircraft will be 100% electric, affordable, and could help ease road traffic in densely populated areas.
“All of the technologies to make this kind vehicle happen exist, we are not conjuring things out of thin air that don’t exist at the moment. It’s all about bringing those technologies together into a package to make it happen.”
A lifetime achievement
In her current role Sophie is responsible for the simulator that will train pilots to fly the aircraft: she needs to be creative and logical. She also studies the performance of the air taxi, in particular how manipulating the controls translates into aircraft motion. The air taxi will be a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for Sophie and her colleagues, so she tells us that hard work is essential.
“Why did I become an engineer in first place? Because I wanted to be involved in projects like this, it’s completely innovative! That is human nature, we always want to find the next step, the next new thing. How can we put together the different technologies we’ve developed?”
Nothing great is easy
Outside of work. Sophie enjoys travel and particularly swimming. In 2012 she swam the English Channel, inspired by the first person to do so, Captain Webb, who said, “Nothing great is easy”. She has his quote as a tattoo.
“I am a mermaid when I’m not an engineer!”
She often colours her hair a different colour as this makes people notice and remember her. She says it‘s a good conversation starter!
Case Study: Rory Harris
Rory is a Science Communication placement student with UKRI Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Rory studies Physics at the University of Manchester. As part of his degree, he has taken a one year placement with STFC as a science communicator. He loves science and after finishing his GCSE’s he chose to study Maths, Further Maths and Physics at college.
Communicating science with the public
Rory collaborates with scientists to tell the public about the work they are doing. He has great communication skills and can explain why science is important and what it all means in an easy way.
“My job is to tell everyone all about the great work being done by particle physicists!”
Science communication is very important, a scientist’s work is a lot more useful if everyone knows about it and can understand it too! As part of his job, Rory is also hard-working as he ensures he meets deadlines for news articles and social media updates during his placement.
Whilst studying at university, Rory volunteered at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, giving public tours and answering questions about exhibits.
He really enjoyed doing this and found it was great helping engage people with science. Now, on his placement Rory has helped to create some exhibits for their visitor centre as well!
Science Communicator (Placement Student)
collaborative, Communicator, hard-working
A-Levels, Further Mathematics, Mathematics, Physics, Physics, Placement
Case Study: Katy Ellis
Katy is a computing liaison for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN.
A long road to CERN
Katy took A-levels in Physics, Maths, Economics and business studies and Music. At university she studied Physics and took part in an exchange year in France on a programme called the Erasmus. After this she did her PhD in experimental particle physics on the ATLAS experiment which included a year at CERN.
Computing liaison: getting physics and computing talking the same language
Particle physics experiments need a lot of large computing centres for running simulations and processing lots of data from detectors. Katy works in a computing centre in the UK where she communicates between computing and physics experts. She looks out for problems with the computing jobs, and thinks of ways to make improvements..
I like when I can make a change to the computing system and see an improvement
In the past Katy has used lots of different types of simulation software for physics experiments and processes. Before her PhD she worked at Qinetiq on materials and EM waves as a stealth scientist. After her PhD she tested simulation software for an oil reservoir and for nuclear fusion power software.
Teamwork is essential
Essential to her job is to work in a strong and supportive team. She enjoys working as an environment where everyone can give and receive support for each other. That said Katy also has to collaborate with other teams from other projects, all over the world! This means she is also able to travel to a lot of different countries as part of her job to attend conferences and meetings.
“I like being part of a team. I like bringing people together and helping them understand each other’s point of view.”
Fun times and friends
Outside of work, Katy enjoys taking exciting trips with friends and getting together for frequent catch ups. She is also really involved in sports and has been since a young age. Two of the sports that she took up at a young age are Taekwon-Do and skiing.
Computing liaison for CMS experiment
hard-working, observant, tenacious
A-Levels, Degree, Masters, PhD
An operating department practitioner (ODP) is one of the team who look after patients before, and after, an operation.
The ODP will help the patient get ready for the operation. They also prepare all the instruments and equipment that the surgeon needs during the operation.
After the operation, the ODP will look after the patient until they have recovered from the anaesthetic, and will make sure that they are ready to go back to the hospital ward.
Attributes: Collaborative; logical; hard-working
Case Study: Dr Kate Winter
Kate is a glaciologist working at Northumbria University.
The importance of ice
Kate studies what lies underneath the ice in Antarctica using radar. She is particularly interested to see how thick the ice is, and what the land looks like under the ice.
Radar uses radio waves to make images of the ice, and the land underneath it. It’s a bit like using X-rays to ‘see’ inside the body. Kate’s research is contributing to one of the defining issues of our time: climate change. She explains:
Once we know how thick the ice is, we can see how much it is changing. This is really important because global sea levels could rise if the ice in Antarctica melts.
From Scotland to Antartica
When Kate was younger she really questioned why things looked the way they did – for example, why there are hills, and sand dunes, and why rivers have bends in them.
Taking geography and geology at secondary school helped her find some of the answers to her questions. When she was told that ice could flow like a river she wanted to never stopp learning about ice!
Travelling to Antarctica is definitely the most amazing part of my job, but I also like to be creative, making drawings so that other people can understand the work I do.
After school Kate studied for a Geography and Geology degree at Aberdeen University. Then she studied for a Masters in Polar and Alpine Change at the University of Sheffield, and finally Kate completed a PhD at Northumbria University.
Kate’s advice to young people
Think about the kind of setting you’d like to work in (for example, in a big office, in a small office, at home, in a classroom, at the beach, in another country…). I wanted to work in Antarctica, so I had to find a career that would take me there!
Sewing and knitting
In her spare time Kate loves being creative and spends lots of time sewing and knitting. She recently finished an embroidery showing Antarctica and the currents in the Southern Ocean. These currents transport nutrients around the continent. The red cross shows the location of the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station, where Kate does most of her research.
Kate recently wrote an article about her time in Antarctica which you can read online – Iron woman: searching for iron at the end of the earth.
communicative, creative, hard-working
A-Levels, Geography, Geology, PhD
Linzi Dodd is an Electronics Engineer working for Northumbria University. She creates electronic devices small enough to be sewn into clothes, which check how healthy people are. She often works as part of a team, and in the past designed tweezers as thin as human hair. With her free time, Linzi is a Scout Leader and keeps tropical fish.
Linzi Dodd is an Electronics Engineer working for Northumbria University.
She creates electronic devices small enough to be sewn into clothes, which check how healthy people are. She often works as part of a team, and in the past designed tweezers as thin as human hair.
With her free time, Linzi is a Scout Leader and keeps tropical fish.
Linzi’s most magnificent thing
“Electronics and sensors are everywhere these days and they can be very flexible and adaptable. If you want to build a simple circuit have a look at this page and build your very own bulb circuit using a pencil!”
More details can be found here
hard-working, logical, organised
Carolina uses computers to help understand and design devices that can store heat energy from the Sun, and from motor engines. She tests her designs many times to understand how small changes can make these devices more efficient. Carolina worked for many years in industry, and in different countries, designing parts for trucks and buses, before joining us at Northumbria University. She would like her work to contribute towards a more sustainable world.
Carolina uses computers to help understand and design devices that can store heat energy from the Sun, and from motor engines.
She tests her designs many times to understand how small changes can make these devices more efficient.
Carolina worked for many years in industry, and in different countries, designing parts for trucks and buses, before joining us at Northumbria University.
She would like her work to contribute towards a more sustainable world.
Carolina’s most magnificent thing
“I came across these two videos. The first explains how we can save energy at home, and the second explains how that energy can be produced in a sustainable way.”
hard-working, logical, self-motivated
Degree, PhD, Research
Paula is a Civil Engineer who has designed and built many large projects. Her current work is to look after the A19, a major road which runs from Seaton Burn and Cramlington in the North, through the Tyne Tunnel, past Nissan in Sunderland, down through Thirsk and York, to Doncaster. Thousands of people use it daily, and Paula’s job is to make sure the road can get them where they need to go safely. Paula enjoys the variety of her work and particularly likes working in teams, and seeing things get finished. She talks to lots of pupils about engineering, hoping that in the future we’ll have lots of new engineers helping to build a better world. Paula also enjoys travelling, with work and for fun.
Paula is a Civil Engineer who has designed and built many large projects.
Her current work is to look after the A19, a major road which runs from Seaton Burn and Cramlington in the North, through the Tyne Tunnel, past Nissan in Sunderland, down through Thirsk and York, to Doncaster. Thousands of people use it daily, and Paula’s job is to make sure the road can get them where they need to go safely.
Paula enjoys the variety of her work and particularly likes working in teams, and seeing things get finished. She talks to lots of pupils about engineering, hoping that in the future we’ll have lots of new engineers helping to build a better world.
Paula also enjoys travelling, with work and for fun.
Paula’s most magnificent thing
“I love where I live! Wherever I go I can see lots of interesting engineering all around me!
Walking along the River Tees you can see lots of unusual bridges as well as stop off at the Tees Barrage, white water rafting and AirTrail.
When on your next walk why not open your eyes and explore how things are made, and who has helped to make them?”
Links about the Tees
- Explore our Landscape: River Tees Rediscovered.
- Tees Newport Bridge. Visible from the A19 at the Tees Viaduct, this bridge originally lifted straight upwards to allow large ships through. The local firm who built it also built the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the Tyne Bridge.
- The Tees Transporter Bridge, pictured above, is extremely unusual, with only about a dozen bridges like it in the world.
- If you’re really getting into the ‘Bridges over the Tees’ vibe, you’ll love the Bridges on the Tees website.
- Fancy something a bit more active than looking at industrial heritage? How about the Tees Barrage, which has got you covered for canoeing, windsurfing, water-skiing, sailing, powerboat racing, white-water rafting, the Air Trail Paula mentions, and more.
- Are you a teacher or home educator looking for more information about the Tees Valley? Find more here.
communicative, hard-working, tenacious
A-Levels, Degree, GCSEs
Biological anthropologists make comparisons between humans and other animals in order to understand human uniqueness. They compare species across time to unravel the evolutionary history of humans over the last 5 million years. They investigate variation in human development and health, exploring the differences in humans today and in the past.
Attributes: tenacious, hard-working, patient
- The Primary Science Teaching Trust has a downloadable slideshow (PDF) about Dr Kelsey Byers who is an evolutionary biologist. It’s part of their resource A Scientist Just Like Me.
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