Designated to mark the birth of Ada Lovelace, October 13thcelebrates the ingenuity, innovation and independence of women in the engineering sector. Born Augusta Byron, Ada was raised by her mathematician mother who carefully steered her away from the ‘insanity’ of her poet father, Lord Byron, and towards the sciences. Despite her famous parentage Ada is perhaps best known today as the author of the first computer programme.

A close friend and colleague of Charles Babbage, considered the father of the computer, Ada’s work was published under a gender-neutral acronym and is now recognised as an early model for a computer and accompanying software. Unfortunately, she died before her ideas could ever be tested, and is often now overlooked in history.

Today, Danielle George is a young female scientist who is making waves in the engineering world but unlike Ava, she is recognised in her time. Danielle works in radio frequency engineering, working on projects that range from developing tools for more innovative farming to a space mission measuring radiation left over from the Big Bang. Aged just 28, Danielle began lecturing at the University of Manchester and last year was the youngest woman to give the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

This prosperous career in engineering can be traced back to her childhood; in a recent interview for BBC Radio 4 Danielle noted that she was always asking about the working of objects. She makes the distinction that to ask how marks a scientist, but an engineer also asks why. It’s this kind of thinking that Danielle is passionate about encouraging in younger students and their parents, particularly as the BBC begins to distribute over 1 million micro:bits to 11 year olds across the UK this year. Designed for entry-level electronics, you can use them to create anything from a selfie button for your mobile phone, to a pedometer with a few lines of code. Danielle argues that the idea behind them is really just to be creative and to have fun.

This is same ethos behind the Talent 2030 National Engineering Competition for Girls, which launched on 28 September. For the chance to win £1000,  we invite girls aged 11-18 to submit their ideas for ‘How can engineers solve the challenges of the 21st century?’, giving them the opportunity to explore the creative world of engineering as well as winning some fantastic prizes. It will run until Friday 18th December and prizes will be awarded at the Big Bang Fair in March 2016. The competition is free to enter and is sponsored by Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy and PepsiCo, and run in partnership with Centrica. It can be run as an after-school club, a CREST Award activity or even in lessons. We also encourage girls to enter independently of their schools where it is not offered – don’t let anything hold you back from following in the footsteps of these inspiring women.

 

 

For more information see the Talent 2030 website: www.talent2030.org/competition.