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        23rd June is International Women in Engineering Day, and to mark the occasion we want to talk about the fantastic team of engineers that work here at Astor Bannerman, what they bring to the business, and why we need more girls to come into the engineering profession.

        International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) gives women engineers around the world a profile when they are still hugely under-represented in their professions. As the only platform of its kind, it plays a vital role in encouraging more young women and girls to take up engineering careers.

        Engineers are incredibly important at Astor Bannerman as innovation and invention are core to what we do. Our dedicated engineering team use their knowledge and experience to design, test and build new pieces of equipment that aim to mitigate some of the challenges faced by disabled people and their families.

        The theme of this year’s INWED is Inventors and Innovators, so it is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the work of Ahlam Qattan, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, who plays a crucial role in the development of innovative new products at Astor Bannerman.

        We talked to Ahlam to find out more about why she decided to become an engineer, what barriers she thinks still exist for women in the industry and asked her what advice she would give to girls thinking of becoming engineers.

         

        Q

        Hi Ahlam, why did you choose Engineering as a career?

        A

        I was interested in maths, physics and art at school and a teacher told me I should look into engineering. I had always enjoyed making things and knowing how things worked so the more I looked into it the more it seemed like a good fit for me. There appeared to be a good amount of theory with some hands-on work and a chance to be creative. Initially I had wanted to pursue a job in the automotive industry, but after years of working across a whole range of sectors I progressed my career into medical device design and I’m really happy with where my career has taken me.

        Q

        What is a common misconception about engineering?

        A

        That engineering is just hitting things with hammers. Not all engineering is a physical job, and there is a lot more to engineering that just cars. Engineering at its core is problem solving, there is a lot more creativity involved than you might think.

         

        Q

        What are you currently working on?

        A

        Astor Bannerman recently released a range of bolster support cushions I designed, which has had a really positive response so far. Small products like those can often get overlooked, when actually they can make a big difference to the day to day care of an individual. Currently I am also working on a much larger product scheduled to debut later in the year, which should be another great piece of assistive equipment for the community.

         

        Q

        What challenges do you think women face in the Engineering professions?

        A

        It can be an intimidating profession to get into when you know that, statistically, you might be one of, if not the only, woman on your team. It can be hard to always have to advocate for yourself and to have to educate those around you on the bias (conscious or unconscious) that they may have toward women in the industry. That added stress, on top of everything else, can be a lot to manage. But, finding a team that you work well with and that respect and appreciate the work you do is possible, they do exist!

         

        Q

        What would you say to girls who may be considering Engineering as a career choice?

        A

        Your voice and ideas and opinions are just as valid and as worthy of hearing as your male counterparts. The industry needs more women, from all different backgrounds, to influence the next generation of products and innovations across every sector. Businesses are more successful with diverse teams and better products, that cater to more people, come from diverse teams. There are so many different things you can do with engineering as a base to start from, don’t be limited by other people’s estimations of you.

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