On 23 June Oxford Brookes University and its’ Department of Computing and Communication Technology and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Science worked together to deliver a lively programme of workshops for year 11 and 12 girls from local schools, to celebrate National Women in Engineering Day.

The purpose of the day, which marked the 95th anniversary of the Women’s Engineering Society, was to raise the profile and celebrate the achievements of women in engineering, and encourage more girls to consider engineering as a career.

The day kicked off with a short welcome from Associate Dean Strategy and Development, Helena Webster before the girls took part in a variety of specially organised hands-on events.

First in line was a cryptography workshop where the girls learnt about the mathematics of cryptography and codebreaking through the ages, including the German Enigma machine of World War II, and tried to break some codes and reveal hidden messages. Our visitors then moved on to a workshop where they learnt how to build and test a simple lie-detector. Certificates were awarded to the best and worst fibbers of the day!

A buffet lunch was provided in the Auto lab amongst the racecars and engine parts. The girls were treated to an impromptu talk from one of the members of the Formula Student team who was working on this year’s car in the lab, and to a short talk featuring our bamboo bike, in the lab next door. Artie our humanoid RoboThespian robot was on hand to chat to the girls, guess their ages and pose for photos and there was a valuable opportunity to talk with staff about placement opportunities and careers.

The pace picked up again after lunch when the girls visited the BrookesTV studio to experience a few minutes of fame as presenters and producers and to find out how a TV studio operates. The last workshop of the day gave the girls the chance to work with Raspberry Pi computers to create ‘wearable computing’. Some very stylish bags were produced!
Three o’clock found us convened for a relaxed chat with our visitors who told us they had really enjoyed their day. They all had their favourite bits, but what they found especially good was the hands-on nature of all the workshops. A lot of work went into the production of the event so it was really good to hear how well it was received.