Kirsten Porter, Engineering Operations Manager, UK Atomic Energy Authority
I am the Engineering Operations Manager at UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Fusion Technology Facility in Rotherham.
What does that involve, look like on a day-to-day basis?
On a day to day basis I create and manage operations and maintenance regimes for testing rigs to ensure that we can remain safe and operational. I am also involved in the design of new rigs with various companies to ensure that they can be adequately operated and maintained while keeping safety as the number 1 priority.
How did you get started working in STEM?
I completed an apprenticeship in fabrication and welding within the steel industry. I then worked as a fabricator at the wire rod mill. Over time I moved into planning and then a mechanical engineer role.
What qualifications did you take or gain along the way?
I gained an Advanced Apprenticeship, alongside industry specific training and a HNC in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently studying my BEng Hons degree in Mechanical Engineering and plan to begin a masters degree next year following graduation.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love that no two days of my job are the same. I have the fantastic opportunity to be involved in the future of energy production and be at the fore front of technology development. I love working within a brilliant diverse team with people that teach me new skills every day.
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how have you overcome them?
I have raised two children during my career, and balancing parenting and a career can be challenging at times. I have overcome this by having a fantastic support network and being able to work in a flexible way so that I can adjust my plans as required.
What advice would you offer for someone joining the STEM sectors?
I would encourage anyone to take every opportunity given to you. Continue to challenge yourself and never be afraid to ask questions. I thoroughly believe that there is never a stupid question, and in my experience people are happy to help anyone that is interested.
What do we need to do as an industry to attract and keep more women in STEM?
We need to invest our time and efforts to show women that STEM is an available career path, whether this is children in school or women hoping to change their careers. We need to show strong female role models and continue to empower women and girls into STEM careers.