AYRSHIRE Connects, a brand new network for female science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students at Ayrshire College, was launched recently by leading engineer Sarah Murray who is assistant chief of EVA, Robotics & Crew Systems at NASA.
It is estimated that women make up only nine per cent of the UK’s engineering workforce and just 17 per cent of IT specialists working in the UK. Ayrshire College is on a mission to encourage more girls and women into these areas to take advantage of the opportunities available in Ayrshire and beyond.
Ayrshire Connects will link female students studying STEM courses at the college with each other, with students in other colleges and universities, with women in industry and with key influencers.
Over 120 girls and women attended the launch of Ayrshire Connects at the college’s Ayr Campus in the week that the college hosted the first ever Mission Discovery programme in Ayrshire, an incredible space school for 200 pupils and students.
Sarah Murray was part of the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) team delivering Mission Discovery and she delivered the keynote speech to the Ayrshire Connects audience.
Sarah spoke about the uphill battle she faced as a black female student trying to establish a career in engineering in the US. Sarah’s fascinating and inspirational story captivated the crowd as she proudly recalled the opportunities she has earned for herself with NASA.
Sarah said: “I am absolutely impressed by how Ayrshire College is engaging with its female students. I thought it was a great idea to bring these young women together so that they can network. If they got something out of my story, and it seems like they did, then I’m really glad I was able to inspire them.
“If the students could take away only one thing from this evening, it would be: know what your goals are, and no matter what bumps you hit in the road, get over it and keep pushing.”
Julie Keeble, chief scientist for ISSET, also attended the launch of Ayrshire Connects and said: “This is probably the best women in STEM event that I’ve been to during my career.
“Having someone like Sarah Murray here, who’s so inspirational, there’s no doubt that the students would have taken something from it in terms of what you can do if you believe in yourself and you keep on trying.”
Ayrshire College vice principal, Jackie Galbraith, said: “We are delighted at the enthusiasm and interest shown by those who attended the launch of Ayrshire Connects. Already, a number of leading industry figures have volunteered to work with the network. Students will be in the driving seat of the new network, with full support from the college and the Student Association.”
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