During a visit to Edinburgh-based technology company Finmeccanica - Selex ES today, the Minister met Naomi Mitchison, a Selex employee and the 2014 UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year. She was part of a team that designed a system which identifies and counters heat-seeking threats to aircraft.
Selex has been at the forefront in encouraging young people to study the STEM subjects science, technology, engineering and maths as part of a drive to increase the numbers of British engineers, particularly women, who are under-represented in the sector.
The company organises a regular Rampaging Chariots event, where schoolchildren aged five and above are helped to design their own robots as a fun and engaging way of helping them to test their engineering skills and develop an interest in the STEM subjects.
Andrew Dunlop said:
Selex are doing fantastic work in encouraging young people to consider taking the STEM subjects which will be key to maintaining and growing Scotlands engineering expertise.
It is exactly the right thing to do and it was great to meet someone like Naomi Mitchison, who is an excellent role model for any young person considering a career in engineering, but particularly for young women, who are still under-represented in the sector.
Women currently make up a tiny proportion of our engineers and we need to make a career in engineering an attractive option, because a diverse workforce means a more successful workforce.
The UK Governments Women in Engineering campaign is part of a long-term strategy to boost the economy and productivity, including the creation of two million more jobs and three million more apprenticeships over the next five years.
Naomi Mitchison said:
Engineering is an incredibly rewarding career and we need more people to come into the industry. There are roles and opportunities for everyone and we need a wide range of skills. We need to bring more diversity to engineering because that means we have more ideas and we can utilise our talents to the full.