Working from home – 1 year on

Hi! It’s Lily here and I’m back again with a few thoughts on how I have found the past year working from home.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I picked my monitor up off my desk and left the office for the last time! In some ways it feels like a long time ago, so much has changed workwise, I’ve changed job role twice completely remotely. But in another way it feels like it’s been 5 minutes with the repetitive nature of ground hog day very much in full swing especially at the moment with the current lockdown in the UK stretching on!

I am so lucky to have been able to continue working from home throughout lockdown – but there have been challenges and it’s been a bit of a journey at times, let’s get into it!

So how have I found the last year?

Looking back really gives me the space to see how much I have learnt over the past year. I recently moved into my third and final rotation of my technology graduate scheme, so this is now the third team I have worked with whilst working from home.

It has been really challenging moving into new teams completely virtually. Last July I moved into my second rotation, and I moved out of that team at the beginning of March this year so I never actually got to meet any of them face to face.

One thing I find very overwhelming is initial meetings and trying to make good first impressions. Having cameras on in calls definitely helps but it is still not the same as meeting someone for the first time in person! I can get so anxious about calls and meetings when working from home that just wouldn’t bother me face to face.

In general working virtually hasn’t been too different to working in the office for me. I have a good desk set up and am able to access all the systems, devices and software I need as I would do in the office.

However, I definitely tend to overthink things and I feel working from home can be dangerous for this. On anxious days I can overthink messages and emails I send to the point of insanity, again something that doesn’t happen in the office. And I definitely get into my own head more – spending long stretches of time on my own with just my computer for company!

The lines between working and not working can definitely get blurred too! One of the reasons I haven’t been writing a lot on the blog lately is that I have really been trying to only work and look at my laptop during work hours and try, as much as possible, to have laptop free evenings!

As I’m doing the graduate scheme I am doing a lot of learning and personal development at the moment too. I love learning but it can be difficult to know when to stop as it doesn’t feel like I’m ‘working’ in the traditional sense. This means I tend to get carried away into the evening. I am trying to set these boundaries and be a bit stricter with myself otherwise I know I will burn myself out!

Another big change during the last year is that I bought and moved into a new house! This has been a bit of a life saver in terms of keeping me away from screens as I’ve been doing lots of DIY bits. I love having small painting and DIY projects around the house, it is definitely coming together now – and is feeling more and more like home. However it was incredibly stressful for a while and difficult to balance the house admin with my job and my learning! Thankfully I’m pretty much out the other side of all that now and I have my new working from home desk set up all sorted and have been really enjoying it!

How have I stayed motivated?

With working from home not looking like it’s going anywhere anytime soon here are few things I have been doing to stay motivated through this monotonous and tricky time:

  • lots of cups of tea (over lockdown I have collected an embarrassingly large selection to choose from).
  • mixing up where I work from – desk, dining table, comfy chair, spare room (sometimes I need a change of scene so all the days don’t blur together quite so much).
  • taking breaks away from the screen and getting outside – I now have my very own little garden and have been loving stepping away from the computer taking a drink out there and just having a few minutes in the sunshine.
  • using notion to make lists and keep myself accountable – I have been loving using the website notion to keep track of my training and learning, creating to-do lists and writing up my notes (it is great for making coding related notes especially!).

If you are currently working or studying from home, how do you stay motivated? What are your working from home hacks?

Thanks so much for reading!

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

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STEM Scribbles – Why does Venus spin the ‘wrong’ way round?

Hi Lily again, and I am back with a STEM scribble!

Today we are looking out to the Solar System for some astrophysics facts!

Of the 8 planets that orbit the sun Venus is a bit of an anomaly, and today we will find out why! Keep reading to find out more…

Did you know that Venus spins the wrong way round?

Now firstly here are a few things to know about the planets:

Satellites in Orbit - worksheet from - Times Tutorials
times.tutorials.co.uk
  • There are 8 planets in our solar system
  • From the Sun going outward they are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
  • All the planets orbits around the Sun in the same direction and in a similar shaped path, a squashed circle called an ellipse
  • All the planets (apart from Venus and Uranus – we’ll come back to them later) spin in the same direction as the sun spins on their own axis
  • And we think at the beginning of the Solar System all the planets were spinning in this same direction, as they formed from a collapsing and spinning cloud of gas – and they kept spinning in that same direction

So why does Venus spin the other way and what are the consequences?

  • on Venus the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east
  • one theory is that Venus used to spin in the same direction as the other planets, but at some point it flipped it’s axis 180 degrees
  • so it actually still spins in the direction it always has just upside down!
  • it may have flipped due to very strong atmospheric tides caused by the planet’s very dense atmosphere
  • another theory is that in fact it didn’t flip and that at some point it stopped spinning and then when it started again in the other direction
  • this might explain why Venus has such a slow rotation speed, it spins once every 243 days compared to every 24 hours here on Earth!
  • unfortunately we don’t know for sure what happened there isn’t a solid answer! This is a mystery still waiting for astronomers to solve!
Why Does Venus Spin In The Wrong Direction? | Videos
http://www.labroots.com

As I mentioned earlier actually Uranus also spins differently to the other planets too! It is tilted just over 90 degrees so it kind of spins on it’s side. The theory behind this is that it was hit a number of times by large objects which knocked it over!

Cosmic Crash That Knocked Uranus Sideways Also Made Its ...
http://www.space.com

Stay tuned for more STEM Scribbles coming soon! And head over to Instagram to see the post and the reel in action!

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

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Perception of Aerospace Engineering in Female Students – Research

As 2SistersinSTEM we are incredibly interested in the perception of STEM in young people. I specifically am intrigued by the current thoughts and perception of Aerospace Engineering in female identifying students.

I am studying Aerospace Engineering at university and an one of very few females on my course. I am currently looking into how to encourage more females into Aerospace and would really appreciate it if you could help me out!

Currently I am conducting research into the perception of Aerospace Engineering in female students aged 11-18. Below I have added the Google Form so if you are within the target group I would love it if you could answer the following questions.

I would be incredibly thankful if anyone could share the link to the form so that it reaches more people! I have linked the questionnaire here and would greatly appreciate it if you could share it with teachers, parents and people of the target group!

Thank you so much for completing the form or sharing!

Maisie

2SistersinSTEM

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Why Is Science Communication Important?

Hi! It’s Lily again – and today I am going to be talking all about Science Communication or Sci Comm for short.

What is Science Communication? Who are Science Communicators? And crucially why is Science Communication important?

Keep reading to find out more …

What is Science Communication?

Science Communication is the practice of communicating science-related topics to non-experts. This often encompasses the communication of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) topics which we have discussed before.

The communication of science can take many forms, from written articles in newspapers, magazines and blogs to standing in front of a non-expert audience to give a lecture or leading an interactive science workshop for children. 

Sometimes science communication is known by other terms such as:

Public Engagement – this usually aims to engage the general public in two-way scientific conversations, about shared issues and problems, to hopefully benefit society as a whole.

Outreach – these activities are usually seen as public lectures, activities and workshops to encourage the public understanding of science and scientific research and are also often used to encourage school children to take up STEM study in higher education.

Science communication is so varied and vast in what it encapsulates …

Reference: https://www.big.uk.com/scicomm

What is the history of Science Communication in the UK?

In the UK Science Communication came to prominence in the 1980s. The scientific community was concerned that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government had adopted a policy for scientific research that prioritised projects with quick-rewards over those of a more fundamental, ‘pure science’ nature.

It was felt this short-term approach was due to a failure of politicians and the wider public to understand STEM. More ‘public understanding of science’ was needed. So in 1985 the Royal Society published a report on ‘The Public Understanding of Science’, referred to as the Bodmer Report.

This report was pivotal, firstly it stated that scientists should consider it their duty to communicate to others about their work and its importance. Bodmer led to the creation of the Committee on Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), which organised funding schemes for Science Communication activities. Handing out prizes for new initiatives including ‘popular science’ books—of which there followed quite a boom, led by Stephen Hawking’s 1988 Brief History of Time.

In 1989, John Durant (the first UK Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Imperial College), Geoffrey Evans and Geoffrey Thomas published the first major survey of public understanding of science in the UK. They found high levels of interest, but that only 14% of British citizens could be called ‘scientifically literate’ according to tests of knowledge of scientific terms and processes.

Secondly Bodmer called for more science in the media, enthusiastically taken up by the BBC, which already had several TV and radio programs. Other broadcasters also increased their science offerings. Newspapers responded by appointing science journalists, correspondents and editors, and some introduced special science sections into their regular pages.

So who are Science Communicators?

There are many ways that you can be a Science Communicator:

  • Write as a science journalist at a national newspaper or magazine.
  • Work in a university press office to help promote the breakthrough stories from scientific research carried out by the academics.
  • Deliver science shows or organise events at science festivals, schools or science centres.
  • Design and make interactive exhibits for science centres.
  • Volunteer as a STEM Ambassador sharing your knowledge in schools and in the community.

I have been lucky enough to do lots of Science Communication from tours and workshops at science centres to volunteering at schools, to running coding clubs in youth centres and being a part of an incredible science festival! I love it, I find it so rewarding and could not recommend it enough!

I am particular passionate about inspiring more young women to pursue careers in STEM and getting young people excited and interested in STEM is a brilliant way to start!

So why is Science Communication important?

Some Science Communication can have a really powerful effect – take the success story that is Blue Planet II!

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet revolutionised the mindset of an entire nation. Millions of people in the UK were inspired and encouraged to change their habits. It managed to create real change in the way a nation thinks about single use plastics. It was reported that 88% of people who watched Blue Planet II changed their lifestyle in some way. Attitudes towards single-use bags, disposable plastic straws, and packaging will never be the same. According to research (by Waitrose), more than 60% of people use reusable water bottles more now than they did in 2017.

The Houses of Parliament announced a ban on single-use plastics and 60% of us also now more regularly use a refillable cup for takeaway coffeeWith 66% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they were more likely to choose a reusable cup when out. In supermarkets customers are also increasingly buying unpacked fruit and vegetables. Sales of loose pears, for example, are growing at 30 times the rate of bagged pears. 

There is so much more to do but Science Communication can have real sweeping positive consequences across governmental policy and across society as a whole. Bringing important scientific issues to the forefront of people’s minds and leading to larger changes in habits and the way we live.

I believe excellent Science Communication like this, is important now more than ever in an age where we have an incredible amount of information at our fingertips all of the time. Unfortunately not all of it is factually accurate. The spread of misleading (and in some cases completely false) information is extremely prevalent.

The oversimplifying of scientific information is a very popular practice, otherwise known as “infotainment”, it focuses on describing new scientific discoveries in an entertaining fashion. This means important science is often sensationalised to get more views or findings are skewed or generalised to the extreme to make a good headline. The same goes for misleading graphs, stats and infographics and unfortunately, it is these that lend themselves beautifully to being widely circulated in the media. For example a study in Science found that fake news was 70% more likely to be retweeted than true news.

So we must continue to fight the barrage of misinformation and confusion with excellent, factually accurate and engaging Science Communication.

You can find out more about Science Communication and how to become a STEM Ambassador here.

Lily

2SistersInSTEM

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STEM Scribbles – The Eiffel Tower Grows?

Hi there it’s Lily here! And today very excitingly we are starting a new series called STEM Scribbles!

We will be sharing incredible and intriguing STEM related facts and info accompanied by one of my little scribbles!

Both myself and Maisie are really passion about science, tech and engineering communication so we hope you enjoy this more SciCom related content!

So what interesting STEM related fact do we have for you today? – read on to find out!

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower grows a little in the summer – approximately 15cm?

  • When a substance is heated it expands due to a process called thermal expansion.
  • So in the hot sun materials can increase in size and then as the sun sets they can decrease in size.
  • When a material is heated, molecular activity increases and the energy stored in the bonds between atoms increases too. With the increase in stored energy, the length of molecular bonds also increases.
  • The ratio of expansion and change in temperature is known as the coefficient of thermal expansion of the material. More on exactly how to calculate it this can be found here and here.
  • Common engineering materials generally have a constant coefficient of thermal expansion so this expansion doesn’t need to be considered too much during construction.
  • However large structures are sometimes built with expansion joints to accommodate the expansion and reduction in size of materials due to change in temperature.

You can find out more information about the iconic and incredible feat of engineering that is the Eiffel Tower here.

Reference: http://www.webuildvalue.com/en/reportage/eiffel-tower-story-secrets.html

Stay tuned for more STEM Scribbles coming soon! And head over to Instagram to see the post and reel in action!

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

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‘But you don’t look like a physicist!’

Hi, Lily here! For this week’s post I am going to be talking about the reactions I have faced when talking to people about the fact I did a physics degree. My thoughts on the conversations I have had, how the responses have and continue to affect me and ultimately why I think working to tackle stereotypes is so important!

A few years ago whilst I was studying at university a question I was often asked (and often felt uncomfortable answering) was – what do you study? Early on in my degree I would reply almost shyly, bashfully …’umm I study physics’ and it usually shocked people to some extent. But why? This is what I want to explore in today’s blog post!

Over the past few years being on the receiving end of this exchange many times I can pretty much group people’s reactions into the following:

  1. ‘Woahhh you must be really clever … I dropped physics as soon as I could!’
  2. ‘Cool that must be really interesting!’
  3. And third and finally – ‘No way! But you don’t look like you would study physics!’

As I worked through my physics degree I became more and more confident in my ownership of the word physicist. I hadn’t studied physics for 3 years, put ALOT of hard work into it to not feel worthy enough to be a ‘physicist’. And I think in some way this made me analyse the reactions I got to telling people I was ‘a physicist’ even more closely!

So let’s break down these reactions! Firstly number one, something along the lines of ‘that must be soooo hard’, or ‘I never got on with physics at all’. This is probably the most common response I get – which is really sad! People that have had such a rubbish experience with science and physics in particular at a young age that they ‘dropped it as soon as they could’ or ‘always remember it never clicking’ or that ‘they just never got it’.

I think there is something pretty important to think about here! Are people scared off from subjects when they are younger because they are told by friends, family sometimes even teachers that they are ‘really hard’ or maybe that ‘they haven’t quite got what it takes’? Now I am not saying that physics isn’t difficult, but I believe passionately that the majority of people who study physics or perceived ‘hard’ subjects are not naturally good at them! They don’t ‘just get it’ – they work really bloody hard and they slowly improve their knowledge over time. It is not magic! I think it is really dangerous to perpetuate this idea that certain subjects are only for people who show extraordinary intelligence or brilliance – this is not the case, what you need is a passion for the subject, lots of determination and the willingness to put a lot of hard work in!

The second reaction is great – it is always brilliant when at the mention of physics people respond positively! Usually they might have an interested in something science-y themselves or they may have seen or read a physics or science related documentary/film or book. This is why science communication and science in the media is so important! People’s whole perception and view of what I do is usually based around what they see through the media – for instance people often talk about Brian Cox and what they think of his documentaries.

The third and final response I frequently got (and initially really feared) is ‘No way! But you don’t look like a physicist!’. This response is usually preceded by a look of shock/confusion and is by far and away the most difficult to reply to. This response is the reason for years I was shy and often nervous to have this conversation. What am I expected to reply to that? When someone looks at you in disbelief when you tell them what you do/ what you study – it really does make you question yourself! It shouldn’t, but it does – does this person think I’m lying? Do I look incapable? Do I look too young? Is there something wrong with what I’m wearing? Is it because I’m a woman?

I know I do not look like society’s stereotypical physicist or scientist e.g. a caricature of Albert Einstein – mad scientist vibe! But the shock, disbelief and judgement from others can make you feel really self conscious! And this is something I really don’t want other young women in STEM to have to deal with.

This is why female representation in STEM is so, so important! Anyone no matter what they look like can be a physicist or work in STEM! Diverse role models working in STEM are so important and this is where social media really comes into it’s own. You can find such a wide variety of people working in all sorts of STEM careers, and this is only going to keep improving. We need as many people as possible sharing their stories to keep pushing for wider representation. This will hopefully lead to more people realising that physicists and people working in STEM come in all shapes and sizes, from wide ranging backgrounds, career paths and life experiences. That we are not all – a certain age, a certain sex, dress a certain way, talk a certain way – but that we are varied and unique and that this diversity and continuing to work to improve representation is what will push Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths forwards.

Working to tackle stereotypes is extremely important and this is one of the reasons why I started this blog! The more people there are talking about their experiences the more role models there are for young people aspiring to work in STEM. If young people can align themselves to people already working in the field this will hopefully give them the belief that they can do it too!

Let me know if you have had a similar experience ( ‘But you don’t look like a …’ )? And what more do you think we can do to continue to smash stereotypes of what a physicist or someone who works in STEM looks like?

Thanks so much for reading!

Lily

2SistersinSTEM

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3 STEM Podcasts I’m Loving in Lockdown

Hello, Maisie here! Due to lockdown Lily and I have been living together for a while now, it’s been fab but sometimes I just need to be in my own zone. You will often find me with my headphones on listening to some form of media – podcasts, audio books or music.

So here I am again with a few more STEM related podcast recommendations! Grab a cup of tea and have a listen to these educational and funny podcasts. Hope you enjoy!

The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry

Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford solving everyday mysteries with the power of science! I think I have a slight obsession with Dr Fry and Dr Rutherford, I love their humour and chemistry – it’s contagious!

Taking inspiration from Sherlock Holmes, they scientifically investigate queries and questions that are sent in by their listeners.

Episode Recommendation: ‘The Scarlet Mark

‘The scarlet mark’ is an episode from rather a long time ago…2016! The questions this episode revolves around are ‘does red hair skipping generations?’ and ‘is the ginger gene is dying out?’ – in essence this episode was all about gingers! When Adam Rutherford called ginger hair “an astonishing beacon of awesomeness” I myself (possessing the ginger beacon) knew I would love the episode!!

Historian Professor Kate Williams tells us a little of the historical background of redheads – for instance Shakespeare calling it the dissembling colour. Also Judas was never described as ginger in the bible but has been portrayed as being a redhead for many years – hence red hair was a sign of distrust.

Listen to The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry here


Encyclopedia Womannica

I love this quick, snappy and easily digestible podcast. Encyclopedia Womannica features short (often 5 – 10 minutes) episodes containing key information about incredible women. The series talks about the women we should have learnt about in school – from warriors to explorers and obviously women in STEM! This being a STEM blog I am obviously going to recommend the ‘STEMinist’ section of the series but there are loads of other interesting and inspirational women featured throughout this podcast!

Episode Recommendation: ‘STEMinists: Emmy Noether

The episode that first caught my eye was about Mathematician Emmy Noether, I have to admit I had not heard of Emmy prior to listening to this podcast.

She was one of only two women sitting in on her university classes at the time. In 1907 she received her PhD in mathematics, after she graduated Emmy worked at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen for 7 years (unpaid!). She joined the Mathematical Institute in Göttingen and worked on theoretical algebra and general relativity, Emmy proved two theorems that are key in general relativity and particle physics.

Emmy was not allowed to be an official lecturer because she was a woman, however in 1919 Albert Einstein himself stepped in to advocate for Emmy and eventually she was allowed to lecture.

Listen to Encyclopedia Womannica here


Science Vs

Wendy Zukerman hosts the ‘Science Vs’ podcast, this podcast investigates and discusses fads, myths and the big opinions behind them. Throughout the episodes Wendy discusses the topics with experts and tries to separate the fiction from hard science – Wendy is so enthusiastic and her podcast presence is excellent! I love the music that backs up each episode, it makes the half hour episodes fly by and you’ll be wanting to listen to another straight away! The most recent podcasts are relating to COVID-19 so give those a listen if you want to find out more.

Episode Recommendation: ‘Bigfoot

The Bigfoot episode talks about sightings of the human like beast that is Bigfoot – the question is could Bigfoot really be out there? Some people take Bigfoot sightings very seriously, there was even a scientific paper published investigating over 500 Bigfoot reports since 1944! One of the possible explanations they explore in this episode is the extinct Gigantopithecus, a giant ape dated to around 300,000 years ago. Some people believe that there may be one of these large apes roaming forests in America – not so extinct after all. By the end of the episode, after the scientific investigation, you may be able to guess what conclusion was drawn about the big man Bigfoot himself!

Listen to Science Vs here

What are your favourite podcasts at the moment – science related or not? Share your recommendations in the comments – we would love to hear them!

Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

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7 STEM Careers You Might Not Have Heard Of

Hi, Lily here! Today I am going to be talking about STEM careers you might not have heard of before.

It can be really difficult to know what career you might be interested in or what kind of job you think you would like to do. Once I had decided on studying Physics at university I thought that would make it easier to decide what career I might want to pursue, but in a way I think it made it even more tricky! As I worked through my degree and took the opportunities to gain experience in different areas I realised there were so many more careers out there than I ever thought possible!

As I discovered when I was researching possible career paths, there are so many resources all over the internet to help you find out about careers and about how you can pursue them! One of the most useful and clear is bbc bitesize careers. You can search for a job and find out from someone who does it how they started their career. You can also search for a subject you like and then see related careers you might be interested in – very useful if you’re an indecisive person like me!

Another really useful website for researching jobs is prospects where you can find extensive lists of jobs you could pursue depending on your favourite subject at school or what you are studying at University! To find out what apprenticeship might suit you best based on your interests, the apprenticeships.gov.uk website is a really good resource too!

So let’s crack on, these are 7 really interesting STEM careers that you might not have even know existed!

  1. Prosthetist

Prosthetists and orthotists care for people who need an artificial limb or a device to support or control part of their body.

Working as a prothestist might include:

  • designing and fitting surgical appliances (orthotics) like braces, callipers and splints
  • assessing a patient’s needs before they have an artificial limb or appliance fitted
  • taking measurements and using computer modelling to produce a design of the prosthetics or orthotics
  • carrying out follow-up checks with patients to see how they are coping with their device
  • making sure the appliance or limb is functioning properly, and is comfortable
  • carrying out adjustments or repairs

This is Becky, she’s a prosthetist and you can find out more about job and her story here

2. Patent Attorney

Patent attorneys advise clients on how to apply for patents on new inventions, designs or processes. To do this you need an understanding of scientific and technological principles and processes in order to understand the invention yourself and be able to explain it to others.

Working as patent attorney may include:

  • meeting inventors or manufacturers 
  • searching existing patents to check the invention or design is original
  • writing a detailed legal description of the invention or design – known as a patent draft
  • applying for patents to the UK Intellectual Property Office or European Patent Office
  • advising clients whose patent rights may have been broken
  • representing clients if a case comes to court
  • advising on other issues like design rights and copyright

This is George, he is a Trainee Patent Attorney. To find out more about what the job is like and his story check out the video below

3. Games Designer

As a games designer, you use creative and technical skills to design video games. You bring ideas, build prototypes, create interactive narration and develop the game’s mechanics.

Working as a games designer may include:

  • using your creativity to design games for a range of devices and platforms that engage and capture the imagination of the user
  • consider, plan and detail every element of a new game including the setting, rules, story flow, props, vehicles, character interface and modes of play
  • creating a concept document and using this to convince the development team that the game is worth proceeding with
  • conducting market research to understand what your target audience wants
  • leading on the user experience (UX) design of the game, ensuring players have the best experience

This is Rhianne, she’s a games designer and you can find out more about her story here

4. Solar Farm Manager

A solar farm manager, manages a number of solar farm sites across the UK, these are fields of solar panels storing and converting energy from the sun.

Working as a solar farm manager might include:

  • Dividing your time between office-based work and visiting sites to check they are running correctly
  • In the office you could be checking power and energy readings to make sure the solar panels are working correctly
  • When visiting sites you might be inspecting the cables and electrical equipment. Including measuring the output of electrical current from solar panels, and using thermal cameras to check the temperature of the cables is within a safe range

This is Manish, he is a solar farm manager and you can find out more about his story here

5. Cyber Security Analyst

Cyber security analysts help to protect an organisation by employing a range of technologies and processes to prevent, detect and manage cyber threats. This can include protection of computers, data, networks and programmes.

Working in cyber security might include:

  • researching/evaluating emerging cyber security threats and ways to manage them
  • planning for disaster recovery in the event of any security breaches
  • monitoring for attacks, intrusions and unusual, unauthorised or illegal activity
  • designing new security systems or upgrade existing ones
  • engaging in ‘ethical hacking’, for example, simulating security breaches
  • identify potential weaknesses and implement measures, such as firewalls and encryption

Funmi works in cyber security you can find out more about her job and her journey below

6. Ecologist

As an ecologist, you’ll be concerned with ecosystems – the abundance and distribution of organisms (people, plants, animals), and the relationships between organisms and their environment. You usually specialise in a particular area, such as freshwater, marine, terrestrial, fauna or flora, and carry out a range of tasks relating to that area.

Working as an ecologist might include:

  • conducting field surveys to collect biological information about the numbers and distribution of organisms
  • carrying out taxonomy – the classification of organisms
  • using a range of sampling and surveying techniques, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), aerial photography, records and maps
  • carrying out environmental impact assessments
  • analysing and interpret data, using specialist software programs
  • working on habitat management and creation
  • keeping up to date with new environmental policies and legislation

Gabrielle is an ecologist, you can find out more about her job and her story here

Gabrielle at work, smiling to camera.

7. Science Journalist

As a science journalist you’ll research, write and edit scientific news, articles and features, for business, trade and professional publications, specialist scientific and technical journals, and the general media. Science writers need to understand complex scientific information, theories and practices and be able to write in clear, concise and accurate language that can be understood by the general public.

Working as a science journalist might include :

  • producing articles for publication in print and online
  • conducting interviews with scientists, doctors and academics and establishing a network of industry experts
  • attending academic and press conferences
  • visiting research establishments
  • reading and researching specialist media and literature, e.g. scientific papers, company reports, newspapers, magazines and journals, press releases and internet resources including social media
  • attending meetings or taking part in conference calls with clients, scientists or other writers
  • reviewing and amending work in response to editor feedback

Rosie is a science journalist you can find out more about her job and her story here

A young woman stands smiling at the camera in front of her busy desk, with her arms folded

There are so many exciting STEM careers out there! It really is incredible the variety that are available and the number of different pathways you can take to end up working in STEM!

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

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Inspirational Interviews – Anne McIlveen

Hi everyone, hope you are all doing okay! This week we are back again with another inspirational interview!

Today we are sharing Anne McIlveen’s story, she works in the aerospace engineering sector as a Field Services Engineer at Boeing. Anne started at Boeing as a summer intern and has basically never left!

Keep on reading to find out more about Anne and her journey so far.

Tell us about your current job.
Anne McIlveen – I am a Boeing Field Services Engineer, working to provide around the clock support for all of Boeing’s customers who operate the C-17 Globemaster III military cargo transport aircraft.

Who/What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
When I was little I didn’t know what I wanted to do, in fact I don’t think I even knew what a professional engineer was until I was 17. However, I was lucky enough to receive some very good advice; “pick a thing/subject you love, if you love something it’s much easier to spend time getting good at it.” As a result I just kept pursuing the subjects in school that I enjoyed.

How did you get to where you are today?
Whilst studying for my A-levels (Maths, Physics, and History) I was fortunate enough to be able to do a week of work experience in Bombardier Aerospace Belfast. After climbing over a Tucano fatigue specimen aircraft and learning about Non-destructive Testing techniques and composite materials I knew aerospace engineering was for me. During the summer of my second year at university I managed to secure a summer internship with the Boeing engineering team at Royal Air Force Brize Norton supporting the C-17. Almost 5 years later and I’m still there today. Recently I’ve just been awarded C-17 Delegated Engineering Authority, which means I’m now able to release new structural repair procedures for any aircraft in the worldwide C-17 fleet.

What does your typical day look like?
As a Field Engineer I’m based on a military establishment. My day often starts by discussing the flying programme and which aircraft the Customer needs engineering assistance with. After that my days can vary a lot. Sometimes I spend most of the day at the desk designing a new repair, and answering a variety of technical queries, whilst others can be spent on the aircraft investigating and helping solve problems.  As the C-17 plays such a vital role in national defence, it’s important that our customers can get around-the-clock technical assistance. This means that every few weeks I also provide 24/7 on-call engineering support.

What are your career highlights so far?
Last year I was lucky enough to spend 3 months in California working with our head office stress analysis department. Whilst there I got to attend the annual Women in Aviation Conference, which was a fantastic experience. Although it’s pretty hard to top that, anytime I’ve been able to help our customers fix an aircraft and fly an important mission has been pretty cool. For example, at the moment we’ve been doing lots of flights to supply PPE for COVID-19 relief efforts.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy doing lots of sport – swimming, cycling, running and stand-up paddle boarding. The more time I can spend outdoors the better!

Thank you very much Anne for sharing your story with us!

Lily & Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

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STEM Books – ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’

Hi, it’s Maisie! Today I am going to be talking books! In particular a recent STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related book I have read, which I just had to recommend.

Over the past year, whilst I have been working in industry I have really got back into reading. I am using Goodreads which is an app where I can track my reading progress. My aim for 2020 is to read 35 books and I think I might actually achieve it! I have already read 20 books this year so I’m well on my way. Now that we have been in lock down for a fair few weeks, I have been reading even more, especially in the evenings. I thought I would have a chat about my favourite STEM book of the year so far!

I have recently finished reading ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ by Stephen Hawking. This was his final book and had not actually been completed when Stephen Hawking passed away. It was finished in collaboration with “his academic colleagues, his family and the Stephen Hawking Estate”. This book is a collation and reflection on everything he studied and thought about throughout his lifetime.

Professor Stephen Hawking was a Theoretical Physicist, one of the most internationally recognised scientists of our time. Some of his research includes the big bang and black holes. A lot of his research was pioneering, he even proposed a theory for black hole radiation that was named after him – Hawking radiation.

Within the book there are 10 wide-ranging chapters, in each Hawking aims to answer some of the universe’s largest and most complex questions.

  • Is there a God?
  • How did it all begin?
  • Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
  • Can we predict the future?
  • What is inside a black hole?
  • Is time travel possible?
  • Will we survive on Earth?
  • Should we colonise space?
  • Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
  • How do we shape the future?

I love how, throughout the chapters, you get to see Stephen’s sense of humour within his writing, it is a very enjoyable and entertaining read. Hawking’s excellence and true genius shines throughout his writing. I really appreciated the way Stephen approached the topics in question and answered them in an understanding and inclusive way. These are some potentially contentious topics, but he discusses them brilliantly.

The book does contain some scientific explanations but they all have a purpose and Stephen does a great job at making the topics understandable for all. This book can be easily enjoyed and understood by anyone, irrespective of age or scientific understanding which is a pretty mean feat! Hawking uses his words carefully and sparingly so everything said within the book holds real meaning.

My favourite chapters were those that tackle the questions of our future. If humans should colonise space and how that would affect us all. Also how AI (artificial intelligence) will contribute to the future of technology and if we will be able to control its rapid development. All the answers are very thought provoking and I reread them just to digest all aspects of the response.

The heartfelt afterword by Lucy Hawking (Stephen Hawking’s daughter) is a lovely ending to an ever so intriguing book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore the big questions of our world. I was always a little nervous to read a book by such a iconic scientist, I thought I would be way out my depth but actually the way Stephen Hawking writes is so accessible. Definitely go give this book a read!

Maisie

2SistersinSTEM

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