Fine words are spoken about encouraging women and other under represented people into engineering but they amount to little without real foundations to build on such sentiment.
Support can include financial backing and in May this year EnerMech provided the Robert Gordon University (RGU) Foundation with a £10,000 ACCESS RGU scholarship to support under-represented students studying engineering.
EnerMech is an Aberdeen-headquartered company that provides mechanical services to the international energy sector and the first recipient of the EnerMech Scholarship is 19-year-old Adebowale Odukoya – aka Ade – a first year mechanical engineering student from Glasgow.
In addition to financial support, Ade will also receive mentoring and paid work experience from EnerMech throughout her four-year degree.
The company’s Shirley Smith, HR director, and Phil Bentley, technical director took some time from their schedules to expand on the scholarship and discuss the exciting opportunities that exist at EnerMech for engineering graduates.
In EnerMech’s experience, what are the major stumbling blocks encountered when hiring graduates and in what ways with involvement with the scholarship help to eradicate them?
EnerMech must compete with major companies to attract graduates, which can make it more challenging for us to attract and retain our graduate population. However, the work we have to offer graduates is varied, highly technical and offers graduates the opportunity to see projects from start to finish. By participating in the scholarship we can work with a student over the course of the degree to build up their knowledge of our business lines and project demands, whilst giving the student access to real life scenarios which will help their learning on the course. We anticipate this will bring a benefit to both parties and engender some loyalty to the business. It is also a way of increasing awareness within the university with regard to our commitment to developing people. Shirley Smith, HR director
How involved were EnerMech in awarding the scholarship and what were the key requirements you were looking for when choosing the recipient of the award?
The RGU Access team set the financial criteria for the student and EnerMech set the criteria linked to the degree course and social factors. EnerMech’s objective was to assist a student with ability to continue their education, who without the scholarship would have found this extremely challenging. The short list was selected by RGU Access team. EnerMech then reviewed the shortlist of three applications and selected the recipient from these. Shirley Smith, HR director
The scholarship provides paid work experience and mentoring, so how is it structured and what form does the mentoring take?
The work experience is structured around our summer graduate placement scheme, which we run every summer. We have also offered Ade paid work experience during other university holidays if she chooses. The work experience is not compulsory but something we have committed to should the student want it. The work experience itself is either project related i.e. a specific project we set for the undergraduate to complete during their term with us OR involves the student working with one of our engineering groups. We have seven undergraduate placement students working with us this summer. Shirley Smith, HR director
A mechanical engineering graduate has a number of sectors in which to practise his or her profession. In your opinion, what sets your part of the energy industry apart from other sectors competing for new talent?
The energy industry is a global industry and enables personnel to pursue international assignments throughout their career. In addition to this, given the challenges the industry faces currently, the demand for cutting edge technology and solutions is always at the forefront, making this an attractive opportunity for individuals who wish to push boundaries. The dynamic, ever evolving, nature of the industry provides a career that is always interesting. Phil Bentley, technical director