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Mintlaw Academy ‘Energy Girls’ Discover Fluid Power at Sparrows

25 April 2012

Female students at a high school in North-east Scotland have been finding out how women are playing an increasingly prominent role in offshore engineering.

The nine ‘Energy Girls’ from Mintlaw Academy visited the Sparrows Group base in Aberdeen’s Bridge of Don and met female engineers who already work for the company which specialises in offshore lifting, crane and fluid power engineering.

Photo: (l-r) Katy Crawford (Sparrows engineer), Abby Thompson, Rebecca Tosh and Heather Sim (course co-ordinator)

In what is traditionally a male-dominated industry, the students saw how Sparrows female staff were involved in designing hydraulic and mechanical engineering systems and managing the maintenance regimes which, amongst other things, keep the massive cranes which are on every North Sea platform and rig operating safely and reliably.

"It was a real eye-opener”, said S3 pupil Iona Robertson.

"I learned a lot about career opportunities for women in the oil industry”, added Serena Clarke, also in S3.

The girls, who have been taking part in the Girls into Energy programme, toured the fluid power workshops at Sparrows, where hydraulics pumps and motors from cranes and other hydraulic equipment are stripped down, repaired and rebuilt to as-new condition. They also saw presentations by Bevin Gunn-Florence – the first female engineer to join Sparrows in 1996 – and Katy Crawford, one of Sparrows newest engineers, who joined the company after graduating from Robert Gordon University in 2011; both spoke in glowing terms of their experiences as female engineers in the oil industry.

Engineering Team Leader Bevin said: "A combination of good timing and hard work meant I progressed from graduate engineer to senior support engineer in five years.

"Since then, I’ve gained experience in a range of roles for clients in Europe and Africa, and I’ve just been promoted and given my own engineering team to lead. I think I’ve proved that the opportunities are there – but for some reason it’s still sometimes difficult to persuade schoolgirls and young women that it’s really true!”

Katy said: "The Girls into Energy Course is excellent and I hope to see it expanded into other schools, as it definitely would have sparked my interest in engineering at a younger age.

"Having put a lot of effort into organising the day, it is great to see that the girls are interested in pursuing a career as an engineer. Hopefully, with a combination of events like this and the Girls into Energy programme, more girls will decide to follow in their footsteps into engineering."