Olivia Brown Dos Reis, Summer Intern, Alliance Transport Technologies
My current role is as a Summer Intern within the Remanufacturing department of Alliance Transport Technologies Ltd, based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
What does that involve, look like on a day-to-day basis?
Over the 8 weeks on placement, I have worked within 3 different department. This has involved working within the machine workshop dismantling AdBlue pumps, completing an R&D project looking into the removal of an unknown conformal coating and repairing damaged PCBs from vehicles. While I was working in the machine workshop after dismantling the AdBlue pumps I would clean and repurpose the cases, which involved shotblasting, jet washing and spray painting. Working in the Remanufacturing workshop involved working on customer units including dash boards, gear selectors and ECUs, I would test the unit to understand what the issue was and then following the customers approval I would repair the unit, this could entail replacing components or reworking dry solder joints. My R&D project involved researching and testing possible methods of removing the potted conformal coating from Scania ECUs, which after testing multiple methods I was successful in finding a method of removing the coating, which enables component level testing to be carried out on the units.
How did you get started working in STEM?
I always loved Physics and Maths at school and A-level, so when it came to deciding what to do at university, I chose General Engineering as it allowed me to develop both. While at university I wanted to gain experience within industry to help me decide what I want to do once I graduate next year, so I have completed a year in industry at Sellafield Ltd as part of my degree and a summer placement at Alliance Transport Technologies Ltd for personal development. Once I finish my degree in July 2023, I will be looking to start my career in STEM as a graduate Engineer.
What qualifications did you take or gain along the way?
I completed A-levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, with an AS-level in Further Maths. I am currently completing my integrated master’s in General Engineering with industry at The University of Leicester. While at university after my year in industry I was able to gain EngTech status with the IMechE
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love the problem-solving aspect of STEM and knowing that every day will never be the same as the day before. As well as seeing the real-life benefits of the work I am doing, such as the remanufactured electrical components I am currently fixing which prevents them from going to landfill. This is especially crucial currently due to the chip shortage which has been affecting the world, some of the units I have remanufactured have lead times of over 1 year, which would have a disastrous impact on industries as vehicles would be out of operation until new units could be purchased.
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how have you overcome them?
Being so early on in my career I have been fortunate enough not to experience any real challenges over being a woman in engineering. Hopefully, this is a sign that the industry is evolving to be more inclusive and diverse, instead of being a male dominated industry. However, people are often surprised when I say that I am studying engineering at university, but within the industry itself this has not been the case.
What advice would you offer for someone joining the STEM sectors?
Just to remember you are as capable as everyone else in the room and deserve to be there and to never stop questioning the ‘norm’ if you see an alternate method which could improve the workplace, just ensure you approach this in the correct manner. If you are ever unsure on anything, simply ask, it is better to admit being unsure then risking it. Especially in engineering where your decisions can endanger others safety as well as your own.
What do we need to do as an industry to attract and keep more women in STEM?
I believe more high-profile female role models within STEM for young woman to aspire to be, would encourage the younger generation to take a greater interest in STEM at a secondary and even primary school level. As I personally never had a female role model in STEM, I just followed what I enjoyed at school. This could be introduced with more STEM ambassador events at schools to spark the initial interest with students to show them that there are multiple different career paths they can choose from no matter their background.