Faculty of Technology

Girls into STEM

Visit offers girls an insight into science and technology studies

School girls in a mechanical engineering lab build working models of drag racing cars
54 girls from Portsmouth and Hampshire schools tested their knowledge of technology and engineering on a special taster day organised by the University of Portsmouth.

On Wednesday 12 June, the Faculty of Technology at the University of Portsmouth hosted a ‘Girls into STEM’ day for 13 and 14 year-old pupils from nine local schools; Admiral Lord Nelson, Bohunt, City Girls, Cowplain, Horndean, King Richard, Mayfield, Milton Cross, and Priory.

‘STEM’ industries - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - are widely believed to be key to the recovery and growth of the UK economy. But, research published recently by EngineeringUK suggests that the UK will need to double the number of students studying engineering subjects in order to fill the predicted 1.86 million openings in the engineering jobs market in the coming years.

The Year 9 girls were introduced to the university and its work in the field of STEM subjects. Then, they were divided into groups, each visiting the departments of civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and computing.

Lecturer, Lynsey Plockyn introduced the groups to one of the university’s electrical and mechanical engineering labs. She then tasked them with designing and building battery powered buggies and then racing them in time trials.

Today is about attracting more girls into engineering as a profession. Currently, only 12% of technology undergraduates are girls. There are lots of jobs in the industry and the career prospects are very good.

Lynsey Plockyn, Senior Lecturer in Product Design

Amanda Thomas, senior lecturer in civil engineering introduced the girls to the subject of design and construction and then set them the challenge to design and build a paper bridge capable of supporting the weight of multiple Mars bars.

Gareth Owen, senior lecturer in computing and specialist in forensics showed the girls around some of the university’s brand new computing labs. He then challenged them to become forensic investigators, recovering hidden files that that could reveal the identity of a suspected criminal.

It was really good fun, solving problems as they came along and seeing what the other teams had done. I thought I’d chosen my subjects already, but now I’m going to look into studying science at college.

Emily Callen, a pupil at Mayfield School in Portsmouth

Find out more about courses in technology area subjects at the University of Portsmouth including civil engineering and surveying, computing, electronic and mechanical engineering, and mathematics, and about education and outreach activities organised by the Faculty of Technology.